| The sun woke us up this morning at Purakaunui Bay. After a quick breakfast, we packed up and headed out, up the gravel road toward the main road.
As usual, it was a one-lane wide, two way winding road, but we only saw one car coming the other way so everything was great, until we came around a corner and saw—SHEEP! A whole flock of sheep in the road, headed our way! So we found a wide spot and pulled over while they streamed past. After several minutes, the river of sheep ended (without a herder in sight), and we started up again. But more sheep came around the bend, and froze when they saw us. Finally, Larry switched off the engine, and then they proceeded to pass us (the previous sheep seemed less affected). Finally, we saw the end of the flock, being herded by a man in a pickup truck, with 2 dogs in the back. I guess once they got on the road, they just kept on going.
Our first stop was Purakaunui Falls, where we had a nice hike in the woods to get to the falls. (The Maori are historically a Polynesian people, so I just think of these names as Hawaiian, which isn’t totally accurate, but it helps.)
Since the sun was shining, we decided to make the most of it, doing several short hikes.
Our next stop was at Takahopa Bay, where we hiked through rainforest again, on an almost deserted trail. There we saw our first tui (big bird, with a funny call). Maybe we should have renamed the place Sawatui, to go with the town of Wingatui supposed named by an early settler who shot a tui but only winged it. (I don’t make up these stories.) At the end of the trail there was an ancient Maori site, consisting of a midden with many shells and some bones washed out of the bank – some really BIG bones (moa? whale?). Subdued by ancient history, we walked on the beach a little, decided we couldn’t get all the way back walking on the beach, came back on the same trail.
At Lake Wilkie we took a short trail near a small lake, with signs telling about the different stages of forest. Nice hike, nothing remarkable.
At McLean Falls we had a longer hike, again through rainforest. There were more people at this one. It was a very dramatic, two-step falls. Coming back to the main road, again we were met by a flock of sheep, this time herded by a man on foot with 2 dogs. It was interesting to watch the dogs work, as one sheep strayed to the side, and they brought it back to the rest, and then one bolted backward, and had to be convinced to rejoin the flock. Dogs are more agile than sheep, and sheep can’t make sharp turns on asphalt. I swear the sheep looked proud of itself for making its break for freedom.
By this time we were starting to think about where we would spend the night. Curio Bay was our next stop, but the park there has no internet, and we wanted that tonight. So we looked for dolphins at Curio Bay (but didn’t see any), then looked at the petrified forest and one lone yellow-eyed penguin, sleeping on the rock a few feet from all the tourists. The petrified wood dates from when NZ was part of Gondwanaland, 180 million years ago. Apparently this area of petrified wood stretches along the coast for about 22 km. Quite unusual.
Then it was on to Invercargill and our holiday park, where we have power, internet, laundry, and hot showers.