At the Victoria Railway Hotel we awake to a 7⁰ morning. With the forecast high of 21⁰ we are hoping for nice weather.
There is no street parking at the hotel so last night we park in the Council multi-store car park next to the hotel. Only about 6 cars in there overnight. And when we checked out this morning before 9, there were probably less than 20. Seems strange as it is within a block of the start of the CBD.
We head off to take a few shots of the town area - and maybe our Mary would like this piece of public art that is adjacent to the Courthouse.
There are lots of memorial statues and the parks are stunning, but the commercial side of Invercargill is very depressed.
Quite a bit of street art which we suspect is mirrored by body art given the number of tattoo parlours. That and jewellery shops - go figure.
We head over to Invercargill's Queens Park which houses the Southland Museum.
We kick start the morning with a light brunch in the Cafe. The museumis another amazing collection of historic and contemporary displays including two that we spend quite a bit of time in - the Southlands War - WWI through the memories and memorabilia of local families; and Beyond the Roaring 40's which celebrates those stoic people who explored the subantarctic islands. There are so many amazing artefacts on display including a snow sled that is intact. This display is balanced with another that celebrates the region's maritime history.
I am amazed at the top third of the lighthouse that sits on Dog Island. The precision and beauty is stunning. Made of brass and prismatic glass that is in parts more than an inch think, and in other areas fine enough that you would think a sneeze would shatter it!
It is these exhibits that really capture our interest and we spend a good few hours exploring and marvelling at the ingenuity and tenacity of the early explorers of this southern land.
With a quick visit to see 'Henry' the 120+ year old Tuatara. Facing extinction, the Museum's successful breeding program is ensuring the very survival of this rather unique reptile. They do not mature to reproductive age until they are about 70. Just think about that - a 120 year old horny male!!! You can read more of Henry at their website.
It is after midday when we leave and that was reluctantly. We head over to the Bill Richard's Transport Museum. This is another goldmine for Michael to explore and as we want to get to Bluff and have lunch, I give him a one-hour deadline. I'll let him tell you about what he saw:
This museum and the one I saw at Wanaka are as different as chalk and cheese. The Bill Richard's Transport Museum is indeed a sight to behold, apart from being housed under one massive roof the exhibits are in pristine condition and most are in running order.
The first section of the museum is dedicated to Ford automobiles, which is a chronological history starting from Henry Ford's first vehicle through to the Ford racing stable. Every conceivable Ford motor car is on display and gleaming. It can be likened to admiring the exhibits in a dealers floor plan. The floors are of highly polished concrete which virtually mirror the exhibits.
Moving into the next section is an array of heavy vehicles. Trucks of different types are represented, and not only Ford. Single chassis trucks, buses and prime movers including Leyland, Albion, Packard, Le France and a rare 1911 Stewart, just to name a few. I was thrilled to find examples which my late father had driven in the 60's and 70's. These being Leyland 'Octo' and 'Mantador', and a Thames 'Trader' all looking resplendent in their respective liveries.
Moving on as time was getting away, I entered another section dedicated to agriculture, firefighting and earthmoving. Unfortunately, my time here had expired whereby I didn't get the opportunity to view the recreational and general sedans,wagons and saloons. Ce la vie! However,should you visit New Zealand, head to Invercargill and this magnificent museum.
So just after 1 pm we head south to Stirling Point. A quick dash up Bluff Hill gives us amazing views over the Forveaux Strait, the township of Bluff with its fishing port and long jetty - probably as long as the Urangan Pier usually was. There is also a famous lands end signpost that mirrors the one in the northernmost part of Scotland!
There is a really well known restaurant here - the Oyster Cove - famous for Oysters (der) and we are headed here for lunch. Even though it has gone after 2 pm, there are still a number of people having lunch, and more continue to arrive as we eat.
Michael started with the Oysters - not Bluff Oysters unfortunately as the season doesn't open until - wait for it - tomorrow! So he has to settle for Pacific Oysters. Still ever so fresh. Served with natural Malt vinegar salt, watercress butter, toasted bread. I had the home baked Thyme & Sea Salt Loaf Spiced red onion-beetroot jam, watercress butter, sweet pepper pesto. HUGE. Enough for probably four! Hot, buttery and delicious.
AND we had ordered a main! We both chose Classic Blue Cod - Crisp lager battered Blue Cod, kiwi slaw, game chip basket, house made tartare, malt
vinegar emulsion. At this point we determine
that this is lunch and dinner. The food was amazing. The Blue Cod so fresh, white and clear in taste.
Finally done with lunch after 3:30 pm we head down for a selfie at the signpost and then leave to head to Blaclutha for the night. We are basing ourselves here for the next couple of days while we explore the amazing coastal area known as The Caitlins.
We are staying in a unit on the property called Blair Atholl - yes more links with Scotland, and owned by Jared and Karla McPhee. Karla is an advisor employed by the local Council and delivery services to small businesses for the state government -really small world isn't
it!! we are still full from lunch and about 9:30 pm just have a little of the orchard stonefruit we bought in Arrowtown and some cheese and crackers.
All in all, a cracker of a day. Looking forward to tomorrow.