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We left Christchurch right after we brought Patrick to the airport – going south. Luckily, as we figured out later as our hostel was only a couple of streets away from the part of town which was damaged the most in the earthquake. We still don’t know whether the houses of „The Old Country House“ are also damaged but that’s because of the exceptionally bad cellphone reception (and therefore also no internet connection either) here in the Catlins. But let’s not mix up everything but try to stay chronologically. Well:

After we brought Patrick to the airport, we went down to one of my favourite hostels here – the „Olive Grove“ which is around 20 minutes south of Oamaru. We stayed for 4 days even though we originally only wanted to stay for 2, but we got such a warm welcome by Kim, Lyn and their 2 children in their home that we immediately felt home and decided to chill out in their hammocks, drink tons of tea and read our books for a bit longer.

Going further south after that, we were basically already on the gate to the „Bermuda Triangle of New Zealand“… at least I’ve heard that’s what the Maori people calls this part of land here between Dunedin, Invercargill and Te Anau. Previously when I had been here, I never really connected to this part of the country… though I found the landscape very pleasant, I always felt the urge to move on and leave as quickly as possible. I didn’t think much of it until I heard other people had similar experiences. Anyway, this is a rough description of my mixture of feelings when I thought of going down to South-Otago and Southland… only this time it felt different when I got there. It might be because of Chris‘ radiant cheerful aura or because of the higher rate of sunshine which I have never seen here before (my memory is washed out between all kinds of rain and wind), but this time I really enjoyed my time here and feel sorry already to leave again! We camped east of Dunedin on the Otago-Peninsula and explored the great coastlines, looked out for albatrosses (unfortunately in vain) and watched Blue Penguins coming home to their nests. Especially the penguins were a very special experience for us: right below the car park in front of the Royal Albatross colony is a Blue Penguin colony where the adult penguins return to after nightfall to feed their chicks. So we stood their in the blowing wind and rain, waiting for them to come home. Soon they arrived, landing right below us on the beach, waiting for their fellows to come along and chatting (at least that’s what it looked like) and to dry off their feathers. When they considered their group was large enough (there is always safety in numbers I suppose), the little birds of only about 30-40 centimeters started to climb up the little hill in order to get to their nests. Walking is not that easy when you are a penguin, I guess. They erect their head, lean forward to an almost 45° angle and try to steady themselves by stretching their wings out. Coordinational problems they seem to compensate by speed. Looks hilarious! When you hold very still and don’t make any noise, they might not distinguish you from the surrounding and literally bump into you… that’s what happened to me when I was kneeling on the ground for shelter from the wind. A penguin couple oversaw me and almost bumped into my knee. I held my breath, sitting there petrified and the penguins turned their heads in irritation, obviously not quite decided what to make of me. After a while all the three of us aggreed on not to be a threat to one another (the sharp beaks right next to my bare hand made me a bit nervous) so they streightened up, stretched out their wings for balance and literally ran on to their nests where they were welcomed noisily by their chick(s). As it was dark we couldn’t take any photos of course, but there are always things you just have to store in your memory :o)

Sandfly-Bay, Otago-Peninsula

Sandfly-Bay, Otago-Peninsula

When the earthquake hit Christchurch, Chris and I were busy organising lunch at Hell’s Pizza (the best Pizza in New Zealand). Chris thought I wanted to tease him – shaking the car while he was sitting in there. It turned out that Hank and his very bad shocks is an excellent indicator for earthquakes though. Only the funny behaviour of the people nearby persuaded us that something really did happen. We ran into Kim from the Olive Grove Hostel in the street about 10 minutes later who told us that the epicenter had been in Lyttleton (a small town just outside Christchurch) but Christchurch had been hit more than Lyttleton. He couldn’t give us any more information though (after all, the earthquake only happened not even 15 minutes ago) and as it didn’t sound like something to worry about too much, we continued with our plan, driving down into the Catlins on the Southern Scenic Route. Of course we got an even greater shock when we arrived in our hostel that evening and could watch the news at last! We only had a normal phone available which gave us the opportunity to call home, but no cellphone coverage and therefore it took us until the next morning to find at least a weak signal on a high cliff right at the bottom of the Catlins on the southern-east-coast at Nugget Point so we could use our Internetstick to upload a message on our blog. First we thought it’s because Vodafone is down as we heard on the news but after a while we found out there is no coverage whatsoever in the whole Catlins.
The following days we passed by with our new hobby: walking – first to the waterfalls and beaches near our hostel and then for 2 days on a wonderful track around Papatowai – the Top-Track. Here you can see a lot of the varied specialties of this region: sandy beaches, high cliffs, meadows, forests and wild bush. Five farm-families provide access for up to 6 people per day to exceptional and remarkable views on their lands. The number of visitors is restricted by the accomodation: a trolley bus from the 1950s from Dunedin was set up on a hill top, equipped with gas stove and heater as well as beds. Since the track seems to be quite unknown to most of the travellers here, Chris and I were the only ones that day and didn’t see a single creature apart from one farmer and heaps of cattle and sheep. But a night in a lonely bus on a hilltop sounds a lot more romantic than it actually is… reality has a lot to do with excessively sore muscles, soaked clothes from the rain and appealing thermals ;o) We did have a lot of good laughes though :o)

in the Catlins

Lighthouse at Nugget Point, sunrise

Purakaunui Falls

at the McLean Falls

McLean Falls

somewhere along the way

At the beginning of the Top-Track, Papatowai Beach

At the beginning of the Top-Track, Papatowai Beach

we walked up the wrong hill… what a pity, especially because of the rain

the „Top-Bus“

dinner-time :o)

a loo with a view

a loo with a view

there even was a cold shower for the brave ones…

the view from the Top-Bus

in the forest

call it, whatever you want… Fangorn, Pandora, Neverland… all the names would fit. Unfortunately, we couldn’t take any pictures at the most exciting parts where the way got really steep and we even had to climb for a bit. But then again, the pictures wouldn’t have done these places any justice anyway.

McLannen River, almost the end of Top-Track

Sealions on a beach

Sealions on a beach

Tomorrow we will leave the Catlins, reaching the southern point of the „Bermuda-Triangle“: Invercargill. There we want to try to organise our trip to Stewart Island which we couldn’t do from here due to the lack of internet /cellphone reception. Let’s see what the outer world is doing!

9 Kommentare auf “In the Bermuda-Triangle at the end of the world”

  1. Conny sagt:

    OMG OMG OMG *______________________________* Das ist so wunderschön! Ich weiß…ich wiederhole müüüsch aber ICH BIN NEIDISCH!!! xDD Ich möchte, wenn ihr zurück seid, ein Album! Mit aaallen Bildern drin *_* Bitte mit dem Titel „Conny’s persönliches, kleines Pandora“^^ vielen Dank! End of message ^^

    • Chris sagt:

      Hihi, mal gucken was wir da machen können. Klären wir spätestens im August bei Andy im Keller! :-)

  2. Nette sagt:

    Hallo ihr beiden,
    beruhigend, dass ihr doch das G l ü c k und die Gabe habt zum richtigen Zeitpunkt am ‚richtigen Ort‘ zu sein………
    Die Bilder sind einfach großartig!!!

  3. Raewyn sagt:

    Gorgeous photos Katie. I am so glad you were south of Chch when the tragedy hit. It has been awful.

    • Chris sagt:

      It still seems so unreal to us. As we where travelling we did not really realize and we are always shocked every time again when we see announcements about missing persons put up in the backpackers…

  4. Volker sagt:

    wie unfassbar gut Eure Bilder sind! Ich weiß ja, wie gut Chris photografieren kann – aber Kathi steht dem ja in nichts nach.
    Was sind nochmal Eure Pläne wenn Ihr wieder da seid? Doch bestimmt nicht mehr Lehramt und PC-Freak, Ihr bewerbt Euch doch mit dieser Seite bestimmt bei National Geographic oder GEO oder ähnlichem. ;-)
    Jedesmal wenn ich Euch hier besuche vergehen Stunden mit Bilder schauen und Träumen. Gebt mir mehr…. :-)
    Lieben Gruß und weiterhin alles Gute.

    • Chris sagt:

      Wow Volker, Danke! Es freut uns ja immer riesig, wenn ihr hier mitlest und auch ab und an mal was schreibt, bei dir aber freue ich mich ganz speziell, da ich ja weiß welch ein Internet-Muffel du bist… Finden wir super und noch schöner das dir die Berichte und Photos gefallen! :-)
      Viele Liebe Grüße vom anderen Ende der Welt

  5. Chris sagt:

    Fernweh hervorzurufen ist immer ein gutes Zeichen. :-) Schön das dir die Photos gefallen!