SEVERAL DAYS INTO OUR JOURNEY AND WE HAVE BEEN FOLLOWING OUR PREDETERMINED ITINERARY RELIGIOUSLY. When we sat down reminiscing our trip thus far the day before, someone brought up the idea of visiting the southernmost tip of the island. “It will be a good boast, something to write into your blog,” said Eric, wishing that we will agree with the extra miles of driving. “But according to Wikipedia, it is still not the most southernmost point on Earth, not even the southernmost city,” informed Charles, not wanting us to be disappointed. I quickly added, “We’ll come up with some believable extreme to say about it,” and so we took our first detour for the trip.
The route from Te Anau to Invercargill is some of the most fascinating ones. The Southern Scenic Route which continues into the Caitlins, is quite dangerous for inexperienced drivers. The strong Westerlies, winds blowing inwards from the Indian Ocean can cause vehicles to go off path (we had more than one near-miss accident here).
Within the city is the Southland Museum and Gallery (donation required) which houses a good collection of sub-antartic islands south of New Zealand, many which are its territories. Another unexpected attraction is its well-maintained Botanical Gardens. We enjoyed its large aviary, beautiful rose garden and an informative animal farm. This relaxing walk was a very long-awaited sanctuary within urban civilization.
Bright blue skies and sea
WE HAVE BEEN STARVING OURSELVES THROUGHOUT THE TRIP. For one, food is ridiculously expensive for our standards. We would have expected cheaper prices for local produce such as Kiwi, NZ beef and seafood. In contrary, most of them are even cheaper back in Taiwan. Imagine our surprise when we discovered a $10 Japanese Bento on the streets of Invercargill. This small cozy Japanese restaurant is much like our savior. The bento consists of rice (something that we long crave and miss), fresh fried tempura pieces and several sides that reminds me so much of home. This lunch was both filling our tummies and our hearts that we did not want to leave.
But luckily we pulled our homesick selves together and left for Bluff. A small seaside town south of Invercargill, a gateway to Stewart Island. We were blessed with bright blue skies and high sea tides, picturesque coastal views of everything south of South Island. We the completed our mission with a visit to the “Southernmost Starbucks on Earth, Facebook check-in and photos for proof.
Invercargill proved worthy for a detour. This day was one charming and unhurried experience we would never forget. Who else would resist cheap tasty Japanese food and a chance to be geographically south as most can be.