Monday 31st March

Typical that the morning we had to get up and pack and be out of the motel by 10am was the one morning the kids actually slept in!
I left them sleep until just before 9am and somehow they managed to make it out the door and help me get packed in time.
I went to say goodbye to Shona, and had a lovely long chat with her.
She & Greg are wonderful hosts.
Cannot recommend Surrey Court Motel highly enough.
Lovely people and very comfortable and extremely clean motel units.
We drove into the cbd so Mahalia could get some t-shirts from JeansWest.
She had tried on Azzan’s and decided they fitted her well.
She also found a couple of very pretty maxi dresses.
While she was doing that Azzan was in a ‘$2’ shop choosing ‘something that he could not possibly live without’.
He had his phone in his pocket so I left him to it as ‘the thing’ changed every few moments 😉
When I finally got back he had changed his mind from a watch, to a book light, to several other items, and finally a bottle of hideously stinking cologne :-/
He just loves his smelly stuff and often gets a bit carried away with spraying his Lynx whilst in the car causing great outrage from both me and his sister!
I zipped across the street and got a frappaccino from Starbucks and then we headed off to fuel up the car and we were outa the city!
Drove to Riverton, realised on the way that I had run out of RUC’s.
Stopped off at Riverton to buy some more at the PostShop only to be told that they don’t them there.
Darnit!
Just have to hope and pray I don’t get picked up before I get to Te Anau as there is nowhere in between to purchase them except online.
We cruised off along the Riverton Rocks coastal route to have a look at the scenery.P1080395
Rocks are just made for jumping on!
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Found a young comic on the rocks
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And a fashionista on the beach
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Carried on to the end of the road and found a delightful stretch of beach and rocks.
It was a very calm day but the waves were still very active and mesmerising.P1080411P1080422
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Azzan wandered in the dunes pondering what to write in his book.
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For all their sibling scraps they really do get on well xxx
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Two cute oyster catchers were patrolling the beach.
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Yet another rock to leap on 🙂
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We carried on along the Southland Scenic Route and came across Cosy Nook.
It is a delightful wee place.
We drove to the end of the road and encountered a very friendly chatty ‘local’.
His father had actually built all the wee cribs there.
He himself lived in Riverton and was just visiting, doing a bit of beach combing.
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More rocks to explore.
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Some retired North Island fold were there in their campervans.
They were watching Mahalia leaping on the rocks and reckoned we should be sending the photos into a competition or magazine 🙂
There were hundreds of titi or mutton birds flying around the bay, just skimming the water.
They looked like a black cloud shimmering along the surface.
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The toilet amused me 🙂
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As we left a group of boys from Invercargill Boys High on an outdoor ed camp were being released in wetsuits and paddle boards to expel some energy!
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Interesting notice boards with some answers to questions you may not have even known you had 😉
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You can see which way the predominant wind blows here!!
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This unusual stunning historical house was near the turnoff.
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We had some rather riotous conversation as we drove.
Never quite knew what profound words were going to launch forth from the back seat!
A – ‘When you are really old, and I am really rich, I will make sure you have the best rest home to live in!’
R – ROFL!!
– ‘I thought I would live with you.’
A – ‘You can put that thought on hold!’

 

Next place we diverted off to was Monkey Island.
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Great place for some selfies – there is always one in the photo isn’t there!!
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Really cool beach.
We counted over 16 camper vans there!
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Kids decided to go suss out the island.
The tide was on the ebb so they thought they would brave the water and see how deep and cold it was.
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Azzan’s ‘complaint’ is that Mahalia is taller than he is so she stays dryer higher!P1080508
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And after returning a good romp on the beach to warm up and dry off was in order.P1080524P1080525P1080529P1080531
They dried and dressed amidst great hilarity and then we were off down the road again.
Arrived in Orepuki and drove passed this interesting looking cafe.
Did a u-turn and went back to investigate.
It was around 3pm and I was starving.
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Proved to be a very good decision.
The food was excellent.
All home backed on site.
The lady behind counter was lovely too, very friendly.
Azzan’s sausage roll was SO large he needed help to cut it!
Mahalia had a panini – I helped her eat some of the salad & bread as she was struggling with her braces to get through it all.
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I had this berry tart with yoghurt.
It was incredibly unusual in texture.
Almost melted in your mouth.
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From that lovely sojourn we ventured on a bit further to a look out over Te Waewae Bay.P1080538
To the east
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And to the west
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Mahalia modelling one of her new dresses.
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It was getting late, and the afternoon was a tad drizzly so we high tailed on to Tuatapere to find some accommodation.
I had decided after quite a lot go google searching to stay at the Last Light Backpackers.
But I was so glad I had not booked online, because after Mahalia & I sussed out the accommodation and facilities we decided to look elsewhere.
It might be the most economical place, and it might be old and being done up, but there was no excuse for it to be dirty.
The room we were offered hadn’t even been swept and there were dead flies on the beds.
We drove back into the village and went to the Tuatapere Motel, Backpackers and Holiday Park.
We were greeted cheerfully, shown a choice of rooms and given a tour of the facilities.
The place was fresh, roomy and very clean!
We took a dorm room and unpacked our gear.
Plenty of space to spread out in which was great.
It was quiet so we had the living quarters to ourselves.
Mahalia heated up the lasagne we had bought in Invercargill and we ate that for dinner with raw spinach and a slice of bread & butter.
I had to have a wee talk with Azzan about his behaviour.
It didn’t go down terribly well.
I hate this whole single parent thing, trying to bring up a young lad who needs his dad and some male input.
I can talk to the girls, identify with them in personal areas.
I just do not know how to get through to a young adolescent boy the whys and wherefore of growing into manhood.

After the kids went off to bed I sat out for a while longer.
I was feeling a little low.
Sat remembering all the times Tim & I had taken the kids holidaying over the years.
The fun times, the memories.
We had some great adventures.
I was really missing having him near me.
With no distractions of home and farm he would be extra attentive and even more snuggly.
I just want to snuggle up with him in our sleeping bag and have him cuddle me close.
I eventually headed into our bunk room to find the kids still up.
Got them sorted and wriggled into my sleeping bag and tried to sleep.
It was fairly fitful.
Gave up trying to sleep around 3:30am :-/
Crept out to the living area with my sleeping bag and laptop and caught up on a heap of stuff.
Have a feeling today will be a long one……..

Sunday 30th March

It was really good to be able to lie in bed and not rush to get up until nearly midday.
We were invited to have lunch with my cousins so we scooted through showers and were out the door around 11:45am.
Spent a lovely few hours with my cousin Bev & Jonny.
Hadn’t seen them in a a few years so good to catch up with them and hear all the family news.
They were just celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary – pretty cool eh?
I haven’t been to Invercargill since 1998 when I flew down with Brianna, who was just a few months old, to spend time with my Aunty Margaret who died soon after.
Two of their g’kids Tane & Ryshae, visited while we were there.
Nice to meet them and their parents, Gavin & Selina, when they came to collect them.
We left soon after 2pm.
Mahalia took this of me and Bev – can’t tell we are related eh?  😉
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I left feeling a bit emotional so it was good to head off to the Southland Museum and find the Tuatara House to take my mind off things.
The Tuatara breeding programme there is very successful and it was fantastic to be able to see them up close.
So far they have bread about 110 babies.
Many of which have been sent to zoos around New Zealand.
They are naturally living on islands near us but the access is very restricted so we cannot see them easily at all.
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Tuatara once inhabited all of NZ but now they are only found on 30 off shore islands – .1% of their original distribution.
They are nocturnal but they bask in the sun to raise their body temperature to aid their digestion of the food they consume at night.
They eat anything – if it moves and will fit in their mouth they eat it.
They are very territorial and each has their own burrow.
In the wild a female lays eggs every 4 years.
These take 12 months to hatch.
Artificial incubation has increased hatching time to 5-6 months.
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The sit extremely still.
The children were taking great pleasure in spotting any movement, a blink of an eye or a shake of a head.
All very fast.
They sit like statues.
Henry is 111 years old and is still actively reproducing.
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The kids are watching the wee baby tuatara sunbathing on the piece of wood.
So cute 🙂
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After we had ouf fill of them we passed though the auditorium and watched a local kappa haka group performing.
They were young lads around Azzan’s age.
Obviously having a good time 🙂
Then we went upstairs and found Burt Munroe’s ‘Indian’
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Also had a wander through their other exhibitions, all of which were extremely well presented and very informative.
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Azzan kept going off ahead or hiding so I have far more photos of Mahalia.
But she caught up with him on the ship wreck.
It was moving and groaning and creaking and dark.
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The albatross exhibits were very well laid out.
Mahalia doing a albatross pose.
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Two species of Kiwi.
On left the ‘Apteryx oweni’ and on right the ‘Apteryx australis’.
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Outside the main door were these three impressively immense anchors from sailing ships wrecked off the southern coast in 1881 and 1913.
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We walked past these lovely straight lines of trees on our way back to the car.
Mahalia did the measurement test to determine the age, but as we were taught this for native trees I am not sure if the same rule applies to introduced trees.
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We drove down to Starbucks.
I got a drink  while Mahalia went cruising the clothes shops and Azzan the book shop.
I had just sat down to drink my frappaccino when they both arrived.
Mahalia found clothes she liked but reckoned everyone was staring at her so she walked out :-/
By the time we went back the shops were shut so they will have to wait for another day.
I drove the kids back to the motel.
They had had enough visiting for one day and I had had enough of taking them visiting.
So they organised their own dinner and packed up their gear and chilled out.
I drove across town to visit another cousin who I hadn’t seen in a very long time.
I joined them for a fish’n’chips dinner.
Michelle had just arrived home from a scrapbooking weekend so we had loads to talk about.
Catching up on family and then once Russell headed off to work we talked art 🙂
I was delighted to find someone who is as obsessed as myself.
Most impressed with her work.
She has a very definite style.
I was getting really weary so I dragged myself back to the motel around 8pm.
Crashed straight into bed.
I have been really struggling to hold back tears today.
Missing Tim so much.
Azzan posted a poem on FB this arvo and it broke me when I read it.
He didn’t write it – just identified with the sentiment.

I know this man
Who is dear to my heart
Suddenly one day
It was torn all apart

This man taught me every thing
That I needed to know
But I never really listened
Until he had to go

He gave me love
And touched my life
Its all over now
He no longer has to fight

He tried to teach me
Right for wrong
The day he left
I wasn’t that strong

He is gone now
It is hard to believe
This man is my dad
Who I will never see

But I will see him again
This I know
The day will come
When its time for me to go

So, I’ll hold him dear
And close to my heart
Cause the day we meet
I know we’ll never be torn apart.
Disarae G. Kuhn

Saturday 29th March

I had warned the kids that we needed to be out of the motel door at 9:30am so was rather disappointed that they were trailing in the dust and causing me to stress when they were not ready in time.
I scooted along the road following the directions given me by Suzie at Rakiura Rides.
Mahalia was booked in to go on a 3 hour trek with her and some friends.

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I left her there, happy as wee sandboy, and Azzan & I headed back to town.
I found Starbucks and got my very much needed caffeine fix to help me get my day into some sense of kilter!
We came back to the motel briefly to pick up some things.
While here I booked for a further two nights at Surrey Court just to give us time to chill and rest up.
I am really really tired.
I had a voucher to use at Manna bookstore so we found it and spent some time in there choosing some books and dvds.
It was then time to head out to the beach to watch the riders come along.
But they had travelled faster than planned so we met them at the turnoff.

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We carried on down to see Oreti Beach and left them to carry on.
I haven’t been here since I was 12 so it was interesting to come back again.
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We caught up with them again on the way back along the river.
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One very happy young lady.
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We said our thanks and goodbyes and drove back into the city.
I had jeans to change at JeansWest so did that.
They and a sale on so Azzan got several really nice shirts and t-shirts which will fit him for hopefully sometime!
Also got the two of them a pair of jeans each on their special deal.
Then off to The Batch for lunch.
Jill & Gareth had recommended it to me and they were not wrong.
It is probably the best cafe I have ever been to.
The food is superb, the service is great and very friendly and the surroundings very pleasant.
We sat outdoors, just wished I had realised how tired Mahalia was.
She didn’t want to eat and collapsed with her head on the table for most of the meal!

We came straight back to the motel unit and crashed out for the rest of the day.
It was drizzly but not cold.
I put through a large load of washing and got it dry.
Mahalia hoped straight into bed.
Azzan watched tv and wrote notes.
Later Mahalia phone Marah and we had a good catch up.
Later we had baked beans & eggs on toast for dinner.
Crashed into bed around 10ish.

Friday 28th March – Part 2 Back on the Mainland

I sat and talked with Ron & Sheryl on the way across.
It wasn’t so rough as the previous crossing but I was still having to breath deep to hold down my lunch.
We got our gear once it was all unloaded at the Bluff wharf and then walked up to Bluff Lodge to find our car.
I had parked next to Grant’s van.
Mahalia didn’t know and when we arrived she just went crazy with delight over it.
So apparently VW vans and Swift cars are her major vehicular delights 🙂
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Lex was out so I left him a note and then drove to Stirling Point to show the kids the other side of the Strait, the apparent end of the world and the other end of the chain link.
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The ferry was going back across.
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I then drove up to the top of Bluff Hill.
It was so incredibly windy our car doors nearly took off!!
Wonderful views up there.
It is worth braving the elements just to get your cobwebs blown out.
Very exhilarating 🙂
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Kids had fun when we got back to the car.
They were buzzing from the wind blasts!
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We drove on to Invercargill and found our motel for the night.
It is Surrey Court Motel.
We were most delighted with our choice as it is roomy, comfortable and the hosts, Shona & Greg, are really lovely down to earth great southern Kiwi folk.

Friday 28th March – Part 1 A morning walk

Our last morning on Stewart Island.
The sunrise was bright and gorgeous.
I tippytoed around the backpackers windows trying to find a good location to record it.
Thankfully there were only 2 other folk awake to be stunned by this mad woman running about in her pjs, pushing open a stuck window & standing on the window sill to get the best vantage point 🙂
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I got myself showered and packed and moved my things into the storage room and hung out in the kitchen for a while until it was time to wake the kids.
We had to have our rooms vacated by 10am but they were happy for us to chill in the living areas for as long as we wanted.
Very accommodating folk 🙂
I was sitting with my laptop checking messages when I found one from Shoshannah, linking to a video she had just posted.
I sat and silently wept as I watched it.
So hard at times like this to be surrounded by virtual strangers.
Tribute to Dad

I got the kids up around 9:30am and finally they were packed and ready to go.
Unfortunately the Nature Cruise was not a goer again because it was too rough out in the Strait.
I did have a backup plan though, was not going to let the kids sit inside for the remaining hours of our visit 😉
We went for a walk out to the old stone house that we had seen 2 days ago while on the Paterson Inlet Cruise.
It was a 2km walk along the road out towards the point.
It was a coolish morning so we all had our warm jackets on but after a while they were striped off as we heated up from the walking.
It is a lovely walk, passing quite a few cool boat sheds along the way.
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Not too sure what this bay was called but the sand colours were beautiful – a mix of black and golden.
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This row of gum trees may not be endemic but they are providing a nursery for native plants.
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This old wharf/jetty looked very unstable but Mahalia was determined to test it out.
It stood fast despite her jumping 🙂
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More cute boat sheds.
Technically they are not allowed to be lived in.
But the locals get around that by ‘living on their boat’ which just happens to be stored in the shed 😉
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Some viewing points along the way.
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At the end of the road in Harrold’s Bay – ‘Port of Call‘.
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Then a 5-10min walk along an easy track to the stonehouse.
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Felt a bit sorry for Lewis Acher when I read his story.
He worked so hard here only to have the Crown take it off him when they purchased Stewart Island in 1864.
He apparently tiered his 9 children in bunks 5 high to fit them all in to the is wee cottage.
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Mahalia wanted to go out to the point but we had a ferry to catch so decided to head on back.
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Mahalia banged her chin on something and wanted to take a photo of it with my camera so she could see if there were any marks.
I teased her by saying she was getting far too vain and as I couldn’t see anything there was nothing to worry about.
Then down the road she found this corner mirror so had to check it out there 🙂
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I am very pleased with my Scarpa boots.
I bought them at MacPac in Dunedin and they have proved to be very comfortable, no blisters at all and I have worn them pretty much continuously for the past 3 days.
I hate heavy footwear so have been fairly picky when choosing a hiking boot, am so glad I found these.
They are perfect.
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We must’ve walked around 5-6 kms all up and by the time we arrived back in the village we were all starving hungry and very thirsty so we made a beeline to the South Sea Hotel for some sustenance.
It was our farewell meal so we sat and enjoyed it.
Ron & Sheryl arrived back from their walk and spotted us in there so came to have a chat.
They were taking the same ferry back so we arranged to talk further then and went off to get our gear ready.
We had nearly an hour to chill out at Bunkers so chatted with Alex & Danilo, Grant, and Jay when he arrived back from work.
Then at 2:45pm we trundled off down the street to check in at the ferry office.
The day had been rather overcast with a few spits of rain but nothing untoward.
Another ferry came in and a large group of people hopped off onto our ferry.
They were from a Porche group who were on tour and had done a quick day trip.
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Farewell Stewart Island.
I will be back!
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Thursday 27th March

I woke around 5am, read my kindle for a while and went back to sleep until Mahalia came in to get her stuff a few hours later.
We had a fairly cruisy morning.
Called up the Marine Cruise to Titi Islands we were booked on and decided to postpone till tomorrow in the hopes that it will be better weather.
Instead we went walking.
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Strolled along to the 4 Square Supermarket and bought a few items.
Popped into the Red Shed and bought our Village and Bays Tour tickets which we decided to do instead of the boat trip.
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Then wandered along to the Post Office.
Left the kids playing on the swings while I posted mail.
This sign really amuses me.
It is telling us who are already here that this is the town of Oban.
To my mind it should be facing out to sea to tell all those who are still yet to arrive where they are coming to!!
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Met up with our new friends who had been out cycling.
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We had some time to fill so went for a walk up to the Presbyterian Church which sits on the hill overlooking the wharf area.
It is a very obvious landmark.
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View from the church.
Our backpackers is the large cream building in the middle of the photo.
A most convenient situation.
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We walked around a lovely track in front of some holiday homes and found Bathing Beach.
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The water here is very clear.
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There is a boat wreck across the inlet.
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We followed Mahalia down to the beach.
It is ever so pretty there, very sheltered &  inviting.
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Back up the steps as we had to be back by 11:45am and I was watching the time.
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We waited at the information site for a wee while and then loaded our bus with a few other tourists.
Kylie was our very informative and knowledgeable guide.
She drove us all the way over to Lee Bay, the end of the road and the beginning of the Rakiura Track.
Then back across the village and around a few roads, up to Observation Lookout, telling us the history and local information.
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The crayfish processing factory at Halfmoon Bay.
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The bush telegraph!
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These circles were embedded into the walkway.
Loved this quote!
‘I must go over to New Zealand one day’ – Stewart Islander.
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“The face of the earth is changing so rapidly that soon there will be little of primitive nature left.
In the Old World, it is practically gone forever.
Here, then, is Stewart Island’s prime advantage, and on one hard to estimate.
It is an actual piece of primeval world.’
Leonard Cockayne 1909.
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“Stewart Island anchors more than Maui’s canoe.
It anchors in it’s rocks, rivers and rugged shores, and in its garnishment of plants and animals, the hope of generations unborn that places like this will always exist.
Neville Peat 1992.
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Te Puka – the anchorstone.
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The Dancing Star Foundation has erected a 2.1km long predator fence here ‘to help inhibit the movement into the sanctuary of non-native mammals which have a serious, negative impact upon indigenous life forms.’
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At low tide you can see the planks of timber left behind in the water from all of this years ago when the rimy was being milled here.
The timber, because it is submerged is not decaying.
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The 1.5hr bus tour was most interesting.
When we returned to base we walked back to the backpackers and enjoyed some fresh sourdough bread with cheese and salmon for a late lunch.
Then around 4pm we went walking to go visit the last shop which we had not yet been to.
The Fernery.
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It is a lovely shop with some really cool things.
Everything they stock must pertain to the birdlife and nature of SI or be art created here.
The kids entertaining themselves while I shopped 😉
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The kids then chose their dinner at the supermarket.
Azzan opted for a frozen roast chicken meal.
Neither I nor Mahalia were terribly hungry so I bought a tomato to add to the fresh bread and salmon and Mahalia chose a 1L container of soy ice cream!
We went back to Bunkers and sat and chatted for a while with some of the other guests.
When you stay in a place for more than one night you get to meet up with people more than once and build a rapport with some interesting folk.
Two of the guys, Grant a Kiwi teacher who has been working abroad for a few years,  who we had met at the Bluff Lodge, and a young fella Jay from Wellington who is working on the island for two weeks, were going down to the hotel for a drink so I went with them for a walk and a change of scenery.
The kids were happy to blob out without me for a while.
I enjoyed a Rekorderlig Berry cider while the guys cleaned up a few bottles of Speight’s.
It was really good to enjoy some relaxing adult conversation.
I eventually led them to it and cruised back to see if the kids were ok.
Passed through the dining room to chat with two other new friends from Cambridge NZ.

The kids went off to bed after I arrived back.
Spent the rest of the evening talking with a couple form Cambridge UK who I had been chatting to in passing over the past day or so.
Also a German woman who has been on a very long trek around the island who is rooming with Mahalia, a French girl and several others.
Several have been curious about the homeschooling and how it all works so we have had some good conversations about that.
Grant & Jay arrived back.
They had asked about Tim so I shared photos of him etc with them.
It is good to be able to talk about Tim and share my darling man with others.
Helps to bring him nearer and feels like he is sharing our time here.
Quite an enjoyable time socialising.
Networking more friendships around the globe 😉

Wednesday 26th March – Part 2 Ulva Island

After meandering around Paterson Inlet we arrived at Ulva Island.
It is a reserve so we had to be careful as to what we took off the boat.
There can be no rats or seeds let loose to upset the ecological side of nature there.
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There are some magnificent old trees which were planted in the early days.
Of course they are not what we would plant nowadays in amongst native forest but they are still pretty cool.
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There is some really neat foliage here.
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Punui
Apparently rats love this so they use this plant as a gauge to see if there are any rats loose here.
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The ferns are so beautiful here.
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A cute wee Stewart Island Black robin came to visit us.
They are so friendly.
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And up the path further another was playing.
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Our guide was very informative.
I was fascinated to learn about the lancewood.
We have these at home but I have only known the juvenile ones.
They reckon that they stay like this with jagged unappealing leaves until they are taller than the moa could reach.
Then once they grew above that height then they foliage developed quite differently.
The lancewood tree on the right is about 50 years old and incredibly tall.
Whereas the young one on the left is probably about 20-25 years old and is about 6-7 feet tall.
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We walked through the bush until we arrived at Sydney Bay and enjoyed a short walk across the sand and another short bush walk before arriving back at the boat.
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It was great to see the keruru and tui as well as a weka.
We could hear plenty of other birds but unfortunately never saw them.
The kaka was the loudest but was hiding from us today.
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Leaving Ulva Island.
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Wish we could’ve stayed much longer.
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We came back to Oban and did some shopping.
There is a Global Sky shop here and I did some serious damage to my card!!
They make the most lovely merino wool garments and it was all begun here on the island so what better place to support their industry 😉
The kids went off back to chill out in our room.
Once I arrived back we relaxed for a while and then headed down to the hotel for dinner.
I had a Rekorderlig berry cider while waiting for our meal.
It was so good.
I ordered the salmon & couscous.
It was delicious.
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Mahalia was still full from lunch so just wanted garlic bread which they made especially for her 🙂
She still couldn’t eat it all so tucked a few pieces in her pocket for later.IMG_6292
Azzan got half of his pizza boxed up too.
But they still managed to eat desserts 🙂
Pavlova for Mahalia.
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And a superbly delicious ice cream sundae for the connoisseur!
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They make very good mochaccinos so I had one instead of dessert.
A combination of a wild boat trip over, a lovely boat trip and island walk plus the cider was making me rather weary.
We went for a wander along the beach front and then back to the backpackers for the rest of the evening.
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Azzan & I are sharing a twin room and Mahalia is in a dorm room with a couple of lovely ladies.
The kids went off to bed sometime after 9pm.
I finally got some wifi so spent a few hours updating my blog.
There is no cell cover here for Vodafone either.
Seems that Vodafone needs a shake up in the southern realms!!