"" Writer's Wanderings: New Zealand Diary - Nugget Point Lighthouse and Te Anau

Thursday, December 05, 2013

New Zealand Diary - Nugget Point Lighthouse and Te Anau

Thursday, October 24, 2013

I guess we should have expected a little rain on our trip. After all it is spring. We start out in a light drizzle for our drive to Te Anau. While Lady Garmon says our drive is only three hours, it can be a tedious three hours if the roads are curvy and wet and we do have one stop to make that’s a bit out of our way.

About an hour into our trip, we turn off on the road that leads to Nugget Point. There is an iconic lighthouse sitting there. The area gets its name from the rocky islets dubbed nuggets that surround the point.  The lighthouse was built in the late 1860s and first lit on July 4, 1870.

The road turns to gravel and even though the sun is out again, it has not had a chance to clear up all the puddles. Goodbye to the clean car. We park and begin our trek.

The walk is refreshing. These morning climbs are becoming habit. Maybe it will help work off some of the meals I’ve had like the Beef Schnitzel last night. The lighthouse is picturesque as are the surrounding cliffs and seaside. You can easily see why there needed to be a lighthouse here. It is now fully automated (1989) although there is still a house for a keeper. And I discover that it was also a post office at one time. It would have been a long trek out to the point to check on your mail.

There are supposed to be several different kinds of wildlife here including seals, gannets, and some other water birds but we are so high up it is difficult to see them. The binoculars are back in the car. We linger long enough for Bob to post his Facebook check-in. He tells me if we ever go missing that Facebook will be the place to tell them where to start looking. Okaaay. My question  is how long before anyone realizes we’re missing?

Our allotment of sun ends shortly after we get back to the car. It drizzles and rains all the way to Te Anau. Thankfully the road is mostly flat and straight the whole way. We pass acres and acres of pastureland with sheep grazing and several areas where there are deer being raised. I make a note that I have to try some venison. Maybe it tastes different when it’s domestic rather than wild.

We arrive at the Shakespeare House, our bed and breakfast for the next two days. It is a strange configuration. I think that the rooms were built all on one level to join two houses together. A large conservatory runs the length of the building and has comfy chairs and tables. Our room looks like it was once a living room and possibly a small dining area. We have a queen sized bed and an extra twin and lots of elbow room, a welcome relief after the small compact studio we have just left.

A trip into town reveals a plethora of choices for eating. This is a resort town and they cater to tourists with lots of souvenir shops and eateries. We decide on something Italian and choose a place that we will return to at dinner time.

The sun is out again and there is a wildlife park we want to see. We drive the short distance and find it easily. Our B and B host told us that it has rained here for a week. The lake is six feet higher than normal and the wildlife park is quite squishy as we start to explore it.

Several large arboretums are set up and the one we are drawn to is the one holding two Kea. The Kea is the world’s only mountain parrot. It is also known as the clown of the mountains. They seem to have an uncanny ability to adapt to their changing environment and are extremely intelligent. So much so that there are warning signs to look out for your personal items when they are around—especially if those personal items are edible. It has distinctive orange feathers under its wings otherwise it blends into its forest surroundings in the wild quite well.

We didn’t get to see the Kea in the wild at Arthurs Pass when we took the Tranz Alpine train. It takes a few minutes before they come out of their tunneled habitat but once they do, the show begins. One of them does quite a dance.

A few other areas contain some other parrots called Kakas and we briefly look at them but the drizzle begins again and we decide to call it a day. We go for dinner and then return to the Shakespeare House and our room, Henry V, which is right next to Romeo and Juliet. Down the hall are the rest of the plays and in the morning, we will eat in The Globe room. Clever. Very Clever.

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