Day 51 -54 Stewart Island

Nice drive from Te Anau to Bluff which is just south of the major town of Invercargill to catch the ferry. We were there early as usual and so a quick cuppa and a giant scone at the local cafe and a walk around the town passed the time till we caught the ferry. The ferry takes an hour and goes across the Foveaux Strait. It was far from a calm crossing but it was all good.

Checked into our lodge, which was part of the grounds for the local hotel. The town is called Oban and is pretty much the only part of the island that is occupied as at least 80% of the Island is the Rakiura reserve and there is a hut to hut walk that takes 3-4 days but I think we have done our share of those. Dinner in the hotel was good, it was also the local pub for the residents so there was a good atmosphere and a lot of interesting characters.

Next morning we caught the water taxi to Ulva – only a 10 minute journey but once out of the bay…….. very bouncy. Ulva is not lived on and is a sanctuary for the local bird life. We were there by 9 so a bit late really for any substantial sightings but the guide was able to point out some of them, one of which was a Robin only found on Ulva and Stewart Island. We walked through some really old forestry and onto a few little bays and altogether it was a pleasant way to spend the morning. Stopped for some local fish and chips for lunch and then had a relaxing afternoon. Dinner was at a food truck called Fin and Feather and it was amazing. Rob had Elk and I had mushroom, you could have them as a burger or in a salad and the salad was all sorts of yummy flavors. It was followed by a pannacotta that had popcorn, cardamom and other things added which was also very delicious.

Next day we took a water taxi to Port William and hiked back to Oban, the walk went up and down the various headlands and across the little bays and it really was beautiful scenery. Being the overachievers (idiots) that we are there is a decision point at the 9 mile mark, you can either walk a mile back into town or add on the last headland and you can all guess what we chose. Not realizing that this added another 4 miles and made the ups and downs of the previous trail look flat by comparison. Still we were happy to complete it and felt that we earned our pizza in the hotel bar that evening. As it was a Friday, some of the local were singing sea shanties in the bar so it was a good time to be there..

Saturday morning arrived and we were very grateful that we had changed our Ferry to the 8am and not the noon one, we had done it to make sure we were in Waihola early enough for the BBQ that was being cooked as Jim, Toni’s dad, was 82 and we were having a celebration for him. The reason we were so grateful was that the crossing was the bumpiest so far and the weather forecast was for gale force winds to come in at 11am and I can’t even imagine what that crossing would have been like. Anyway, we arrived at Toni’s by early afternoon and enjoyed a warm welcome from Toni, Denise and Jim plus an amazing array of food that evening. We have decided that we probably need to stop eating when we get back to Georgia until the New Year!