Te anau Road trip, Southern Scenic route and some history

We decided to go on a road trip on Saturday, get to see a wee bit of the island that we live on.

We started off with the local Christmas shop, which is actually just up the road from us. the shop was utterly amazing!!

My life is now complete though, as I now have these two essential Christmas tree decorations! 

Here is a small glimpse of the shop!

Onward we went, on our way to Te Anau, taking in some of the Southern Scenic route on the way. We stopped off at Lake Manapouri on the way through, Stunningly beautiful scenery. This is the lake that you catch the boat to Doubtful Sound from. You can only get there by boat.

Te Anau is a small place, obviously a tourist destination and obviously it isn’t quite tourist season yet, the place was quite quiet. We stopped for lunch. As we were sitting in the cafe, enjoying our meal, we could hear the faint sound of bagpipes. Out of the window I saw large groups of people. It happened to be the day for the Santa parade, and it was starting right now!

The parade ended in a small field where there was a gathering of stalls, vintage cars, tractors and the like, a bit like the Wyndham show. There was a band, and the fire service were doing a demonstration on fire safety in the home. How cool we stumbled upon that!

While there we had a wee look at Te Anau lake, lovely little marina and a little track alongside the lake.

Lake Te Anau

As we headed out of Te Anau we stopped off at the wildlife park. Not a soul there, you simply put a dollar into a slot and walked around yourself.

The islands of New Zealand were isolated for millions of years and unique birds evolved in an environment where there were only a few natural predators, such as eagles, owls, hawks. People introduced predators such as cats, rats, stoats, and browsing animals such as deer, goats and possums, all which have had a dramatic effect on the habitat. Some birds became extinct and others are now threatened. The birds in the sanctuary are not readily seen in the wild, have been injured or involved in captive breeding programmes. There are many many types of owls, including the Ruru, which we couldn’t get a picture of, and lots of types of ducks.

ON our way home, we drove the southern scenic route back, and came upon two finds that we werent expecting, Clifden Suspension bridge, being the first. A Wooden suspension Bridge recognised as a New Zealand engineering achievement of outstanding significance. It was designed and built by Charles Henry Howarth in 1898-1899. It was the first bridge over the Waiau river and had the longest main span (111.5m) at the time.

The next thing that we discovered was Macracens rest, with a sign quite similar to that at Bluff. It stand on top of a cliff edge, looking down over vast unspoilt shingle beaches.

Colac Bay tavern's Christmas Tree!We were running a wee bit behind time and so decided to also stop for tea on the way. We called in at the Colac bay tavern, lovely meal but a very unusual way to display a Christmas tree!!

Our final find was a sign that we drove past last time we were out for a drive, but Mark had read about Cosy Nook and said he thought it was worth stopping off at.

It certainly was. What a funny little place. It was named by Captain George Thomson the Bluff Harbour Master, after his homeland Scottish Village Cozy Neuk. Mullet Bay as this cove was known, was an early site of Maori occupation. In the 1820’s this area had one of the largest Maori villages in coastal Southland consisting of 40-50 whare (houses). This bay was not suitable for Maori to launch their Waka (canoes) but ideal sandy beaches were located nearby. during tribal hostilities between Ngai Tahu and Ngatimamoe in the 1700’s the fortified pa on Matariki Island (the largest offshore island) was a place of refuge.

Cosy Nook is actually the name of the beach around the corner. Until the 1960’s Mullet Bay was the base for up to 7 fishing boats working in the Foveaux Strait. In recent years most of the fishermen have moved away, usually to neighbouring Riverton. The cove used to be rich in seafood, but it is now virtually fished out. the small dwellings (cribs/batches,/shacks) were originally huts built by the fishermen in says when there were no regulations. They gradually came into their ownership. they have no land titles, they cannot be enlarged, and no more may be built. Maori predecessors have a thriving village half a kilometre up the coast.

The cottages are teeny tiny and I have no idea how they live in them, so isolated. We did see one man, and there are cars parked by the shacks. Amazing way of existing. As we were walking on the rocks, one local was foraging for drift wood.

One last thing that did make us smile on the way home was this mail box. We eve turned around and went back to get a photo!!

The best letter box in the world?

Author: Melanie Magowan

I am a massage therapist and part time athlete

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