Roads Less Travelled - A tui feasting on flax at the Bluff Hill Lookout

Roads Less Travelled

Roads Less Travelled - A tui feasting on flax at the Bluff Hill Lookout

As we spent Christmas at home this year, and as the weather was really kind to us, we decided to do a few day trips on roads less travelled (by us anyway) in Southland.

Roads less travelled – just an excuse to show off images of our beautiful Southland

So, heading out from Invercargill, through Winton, we made our first stop at Nightcaps, about 65 kilometres away.

builders joiners and funeral directors nightcaps - roads less travelled
Sinclair and Sons, Nightcaps

Like Ohai, Nightcaps was once a busy coal mining town, but even with the nearby Takitimu mine still operating, the town’s population has dwindled to around 350.

With such a low number of residents still living there, one wonders how long the Nightcaps Funeral Directors will stay in business.

birchwood road - the main street of the old coal mining town of ohai

The last coal mine operating in Ohai closed at the end of September this year, with “cleaning up” expected to continue for two or three years while the area is restored to an environmentally friendly state.

Clifden Suspension Bridge near Tuatapere
Clifden Suspension Bridge near Tuatapere

Next stop on our roads less travelled trip was the 111.5m long Clifden Suspension Bridge just outside Tuatapere, built in 1898 to span the Wairau River.

The cost to build the bridge was £5007, and a restoration project on the bridge a few years ago topped $470,000.

The suspension bridge was replaced in 1978 by a new bridge 130m downstream.

Main Street through Tuatapere

Tuatapere is the self styled “Sausage Capital Of New Zealand”. Tui Base Camp on the town’s main street is where they are made – and the wee cafe on-site is the best place to try some.

This is also an ideal starting point to walk the Hump Ridge Track which starts close to Bluecliffs Beach, down near the mouth of the Wairau River.

darkening skies at bluecliffs beach te wae wae bay
Darkening skies over Bluecliffs Beach
an old boat high and dry rusting way in long grass in a paddock near Tuatapere
High and dry near Tuatapere

Not far out of Tuatapere on the road heading back towards Invercargill, this old boat has been left high and dry rotting in the long grass for as long as I can remember.

mccrackens rest lookout looking west towards Tuatapere and the distant hills
McCrackens Rest Lookout

McCrackens Rest was the next stop-off on our roads less travelled road trip.

You get great views over sweeping Te Wae Wae Bay and along this stunning coastline.

fossickers trying their luck on gemstone beach orepuki
Searching for gems – Gemstone Beach, Orepuki

Seven minutes further down the road is Gemstone Beach at Orepuki.

Semi-precious gems such as garnet, jasper and quartz may be found here from time to time, but most fossickers find only interesting and attractive pebbles and stones shaped and worn smooth by the action of the tides on the beach.

no swimming sign at gemstone beach orepuki
Gemstone beach – No Swimming

Gemstone beach is definitely a no swimming beach!

looking out over foveaux strait at cosy nook with Stewart island in the distance
Rocks at the entrance to Mullet Bay – Cosy Nook

The Southern Scenic Route is not, however, without its true gems, one of which is Cosy Nook, 5 kilometres off the main road.

old slipway and cottages at cosy nook
Cosy Nook

More correctly called Mullet Bay, this is a picturesque rocky bay, with a few beaches and cottages nestled on one side.

Looking out over Tiwai Point and Awarua Bay from Bluff Hill lookout
Looking out over Tiwai Point and Awarua Bay from Bluff Hill lookout

Our roads less travelled road trip ended with a diversion down to Bluff, the southernmost point of State Highway 1, but not the southernmost point of the South Island. That honour belongs to Slope Point – way of in the distance on the right of this fantastic view from the Bluff Hill Lookout.

stirling point signal station at bluff
Stirling Point Signal Station
iconic signpost at stirling point bluff
Stirling Point sign

And of course no road trip in the deep south is complete without visiting the iconic signpost at Stirling Point.

All photographs taken with a Panasonic Lumix G95 with 12-60mm lens, and processed using On1 Photo RAW 2022

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