From Tekapo, I took the bus south back to Queenstown – but only for one night. The next day would prove to be a much longer day of travelling.
From Queenstown, I had hoped to find a bus straight south to Invercargill, and it’s on the route map that a service runs that way but, whether due to Covid or just operational changes, it wasn’t running now. That meant a four-hour journey to Dunedin, with a two-hour break, before another four-hours to Invercargill.
It wasn’t a disaster, but it did drag at times.
Taking some time in Invercargill
The reason I travelled all the way south was to get to Stewart Island, although plenty of people I met along the way asked me why I’d bother going that far. The answer is simple…
I came here to see as much of the country as I could, and this is literally about as far south as I can go!
What I didn’t anticipate on was the island being so busy. It’s not a big community, so accommodation is limited, and I thought, after Christmas and New Year, it’d quieten down a bit. It didn’t. That meant I was able to book only one night and it was a few days later than I intended.
I used the time to see Invercargill, and while it was nice enough, there wasn’t a lot there to make me go back for another trip. If I had a car and could drive to the Catlins or other areas, it might be a different story.
Queens Park is worth seeing. It’s a large green space with a golf course taking up a part of it. You’ll find an animal enclosure and an aviary there, too, and on a nice day, it’s a good place to wander in the sun (or shade). The museum is also nearby, but this is unfortunately closed. You can still see the Tuatara at the rear of the building, however, but they’re more likely to appear if the weather is good.
I also took a walk along Otepuni Creek, which was a nice and relaxing walk from the heart of the city taking you east. It’s a series of small garden areas until you leave the centre and more green space isn’t interrupted as often by roads.
Beyond that, I took some time to relax and catch up on writing stuff, and the hostel I stayed in was nice, which was a bonus!
One night on Stewart Island
To get from Invercargill to Stewart Island means a quick journey south to Bluff, and a ferry from there. There’s a coach transfer option, too, which is very helpful. I’ll say now that even on a good day, this boat is going to be a bit bumpy. Keep that in mind if you get a bit queasy. I enjoyed the ride!
Taking the first ferry and the last the following day gave me as much time as possible to see the island. It’s known for a few things, with plenty of tramping trails for those looking to go into the bush. Me? Not so much.
There are plenty of shorter walking trails around Oban, which is where the ferry arrives, and I did a few of those. My favourite being the walk along the coast to Horseshoe Point, where I was rewarded with some stunning views. I got caught in a 10-minute downpour but dried off very quickly as I continued.
I took a water taxi to Ulva Island, which is worth the trip. I did the full loop in less than two-hours, which is when the water taxi returns, but for those wanting more of a relaxing walk, you can charter a private taxi or wait another two hours. You’ll see plenty of trees, plants and animals, with the Weka being some of the bravest.
Also, check out nature’s red carpet!
On Stewart Island, you can sometimes see wild Kiwis at night, and so I took a walk up to the rugby field where they’re known to appear. Unfortunately, this was one night where none decided to show up – which is a little typical. It would have been awesome to see them (somewhat) in the wild, but I still had a good time overall.
Getting ready for the home stretch
After another night in Invercargill, it was time to get ready to begin the journey north. I’d be going up the east coast this time, but at least part would be new – from Dunedin to Christchurch.
I wasn’t in any rush, though, so a couple of days in Dunedin loomed first, and these little breaks would help break up the coach journeys, at least.