This last week has been incredible! We were up bright and early the day after Luke's birthday to catch our 930 ferry to stewart island. The 4 days we had there went by so fast! When we first got there we lugged our giant backpacks to the hostel, Stewart Island Backpackers, then headed to the visitor center to plan our weekend. We tried to book a fishing trip for the next day (Saturday), but we weren't promised anything since it was a busy holiday weekend. So we registered our interest and went on a walk to Ackers Point. It is half road and half path with a bit of beach in the middle, but the views at the end were amazing (despite the little bit of rain we experienced along the way). We walked through a little bit of forest then it opened up into the view of the water which was incredible. Thanks to the tide coming in we raced across the beach on the way back trying to keep our feet from getting wet! That afternoon we checked back in with the visitor center to see if there was going to be a fishing trip for us the next day. Unfortuantely, there wasn't, but we made friends with one of the really nice women at the visitor center and she said she'd do her best to find us something before we left. So we headed up the road to the only grocery store on the island to get some food for dinner. When we left the store we heard our names being called out and turned to see it was our friend from the visitor center. So we headed back there to see what she was yelling about. It turns out she was able to book us on a boat for Monday, so at least we had that to look forward to. She also told us where we could go looking for some Kiwi's after dark. So we went back and relaxed at the hostel, then headed out Kiwi hunting. We didn't see anyhing except other people looking for kiwis! We decided tomorrow night we'd go a little bit later.
The next day we woke up and headed back to the visitor center. We had heard about a nearby island called Ulva Island and thought it might be worth a visit. So we booked a trip on a boat to this really small even more remote than Stewart Island. It is basically all owned by the department of conservation except one small section which is privately owned. We did a walk around the island through untouched rainforest and saw some amazing beaches with golden sand. We stopped for lunch at the last beach which was the furthest point from where we started, West End Beach. When we sat down to eat this endangered bird called the weka started taking some interest in us. First I took a drink from my water bottle, and when I put it down he pecked at it like it was food. Then he started crawling all over Luke. Finally we started eating out sandwiches and he literally lept at my peanut butter and jelly! Luke then had to tease the birds with some gingerbread cookies making two fight over one piece. Then he felt bad and gave the other one a piece too. That was probably the sunniest day we had while we were there so it was perfect for the hike and the beaches. We saw loads of other types of rare New Zealand birds as well - Bellbirds, Tui, Pigeons, and the robin. That night we waited until about 930 to go Kiwi hunting hoping that all the people out hunting the night before would be fast asleep by then. We were right, we were the only ones out that night looking for kiwis. Even the kiwis weren't out! It was still really fun hunting through the woods for them though!
The next day the weather was interesting. When we woke up it was sunny and warm so we put on shorts and went down to see when we could rent bikes from the visitor center. Once again our friend helped us out by reserving some bikes for us that afternoon. We headed back to the hostel to have lunch and change into warmer clothes since it seemed to be getting a little bit colder out. By the time we got to the visitor center to pick up our bikes it was drizzling. We were headed to this place called Lees point where there are these chains that have to do with this story that says a fisherman used stewart island as his anchor. By the time we made it up and over the first hill we were not only panting bus also soaking wet from the rain. It was too late now so we kept going. There were a few difficult hills but they always brought with them a nice breezy downhill. It was great to finally make it to Lee's Point. Too bad it was raining so badly that there was no where to go to admire the view without getting even more soaked. Since we were already drenched we wandered around a little bit taking some photos before heading back up the massive hills to the visitor center. We originally rented the bikes for four hours, but by the time we made it back to the visitor center we were soaked, soar, and maybe a little bit cranky, so we decided to bring them back early (2 hours early). It was still fun!
Then suddenly it was our last day in Stewart Island! We were up early again to go fishing on Lo Loma. The boat we were on had two funny very kiwi fisherman running the show. we didnt use fishing poles we used these ropes/lines that had two big hooks and a big weight at the end, but we caught loads of fish! The waters here are full of blue cod so we took away about 20 fish at the end of the trip! They even fillet it all on the boat while we're fishing so we just have a bag of perfected filleted fish now! We've made fish tacos and breaded fish since and they have been delicious! After the fishing was over we went back to the hostel to warm up, shower and get our things over to the ferry.
Our next stop that night was the Catlins. The place we stayed, Penguin Paradise, was great. It was just a house with 5 rooms and we were the only ones staying there the first night! We got the whole house to ourselves with a fireplace to keep warm which was great since it was freezing! We also started working on the worlds hardest 550 piece puzzle. We barely finished the outside of it before we called it a night. The first morning we were there we went to Curio Bay which has a fossilized forest which just looks like rocks. We went the first time at about 12 oclock in the afternoon and we only saw some rocks, so we figured we try coming back again at low tide (330) to see the forest. When we went back at 330 we saw the same exact thing. Then we realized they were fossils. It was once a forest, but has since been burried over by volcanic debris. In any case we were able to walk down to the water which was really nice. Then we waited until dusk and we got to see a yellow eyed penguin waddle onto shore so that made it worth the trip. That was sort of the highlight of the day! The next day we left our nice house in the wilderness to head out of the catlins stopping at loads of waterfalls along the way - Mclean Falls, Matai Falls, and the pinnacle Purakanui Falls! They were incredible! It was also an amazing day weatherwise so it was just a perfect way to see the Catlins. It is absolutely untouched and beautiful.
Once we finished with our last waterfall we headed on our way back up the east coast to Dunedin. It's quite a hilly place! We are staying at a hostel called Elm Lodge (Its on Elm Street). Its nice enough, its a house in a nice neighborhood up a massive hill like everything else in Dunedin. We enjoyed a little of the free internet but it didn't take long to fall asleep. This morning we were up and off to the i-site here to book our two short days in Dunedin. Today we really wanted to go on the Speight's Brewery Tour and tomorrow its the Cadbury Factory. Beer and chocolate, what else do you need?? Once we had those booked we headed out to find the renowned used bookshops in town. Once we realized we were looking in the wrong place we stopped for lunch at a place in the city center that had a lunch deal on. Luke had a chicken burger with brie and I had the seafood chowder. Both were really tasty. Then we headed on to try and find the Octagon Bookshop. We finally found it and it was worth the search. It has some of the greatest treasures in there, and everything was 50% off, so I got 2 books for $5! It has classics, poetry, history books, recent books, mysteries, literally anything you could think of, but better. Once I finished making Luke wait while I read every title in the store, we headed off to browse some other bookshops before heading to our Speight's Brewery Tour. It was really a great tour. We got not only a tour of where the beer is brewed, but a little bit of history of the company and of Dunedin as well. We got unlimited tastings for a half hour as part of the tour! then headed off to a happyof tthats where we are now for a few days before we go to hour at a place called The Black Dog (which apparently has no relation to the one in MV, I asked). Tomorrow is really our last day of this whirlwind tour of the south island. I can't believe how quickly this has gone! Tomorrow evening we'll be back in Christchurch, then its up to Nelson on Thursday! Not before the Cadbury Tour of course!