Well, the morning began gently enough with a cute egg event, Bear asked what I would like to do. Looking out of the window it looked cold, grey and wet. Having booked our ferry ride over to Stewart Island it seemed like a good idea to go and reccy Bluff, fifteen minutes away.
The Wetlands is a fitting name for each side of the main road out of Invercargill. Sheep lining up in the few dry bits of their fields. Great numbers of deer are kept in this area famous for its venison, sheep cheese and specialty chocolate. Bluff is famous for its oysters. By 1850, most of Southland had been settled by runholders. As New Zealand’s closest port to Australia, Bluff became the natural centre to service the region’s emerging farming and sawmilling industries. Today the region produces 25% of the countries exports.
Bluff away in the distance.
Bluff is a town and seaport in the Southland region, on the southern coast of South Island. It is the southern-most town in New Zealand (excluding Oban on Stewart Island) and, despite Slope Point being further to the south, is colloquially used to refer to the southern extremity of the country (particularly in the phrase "from Cape Reinga to The Bluff"). It is home to some eighteen hundred and fifty people. The Bluff area, while itself not settled by Māori, was one of the earliest areas of New Zealand where a European presence became established.
Soon we were driving down the main road. Bluff Lodge is a happy looking building and we saw many murals.
We followed the road toward the pilot house at Stirling Point.
Bear did well to get this great shot of the world famous sign in the biting wind just as it began to rain. It was originally built of timber around 1960 with six arms. Following repeated vandalism it was replaced in metal and cemented in place. Today’s version gives directions to twelve locations including Invercargill’s sister city Kumagaya, Japan.
Named after Captain William Stirling who came from Kent and established a whaling station for Johnny Jones in 1836. Standing like a sentinel at the entrance to the harbour is the Stirling Point pilot station built in 1912. The station was de-manned on the 1st of August 1986. Prior to this a signal mast with crosstree was erected and flew flags advising the waiting ships of weather and tidal conditions. Four ships, Scotia in 1864, Pelham and Maid of Otago both in 1886 and Okta in 1913 ended their days on Pelham Rock to the east of Stirling Point pilot station.
Maui was a legendary Polynesian voyager with god-like powers. Creation stories tell how he pulled Rakiura – Stewart Island from the ocean floor to be the Te Puka a Maui or anchorstone for his canoe. Thus anchored, Maui was able to cast his line and haul out the giant fish which became Te Ika a Maui - North Island. This stylised anchor chain is firmly secured on land by a shackle but disappears beneath Te Ara a Kewa - Fovreaux Strait to remind us of the physical and spiritual taurapa or stern post of Te Waka a Maui and Rakiura – Stewart Island. The chain links also symbolise a history of inter-relationships that have given the peoples of Motupohue – Bluff a strong sense of heritage and identity. The chain emerges at Lee Bay on Rakiura – Stewart Island, must go and take its picture there.
Next we drove up to the lookout. Mable parked, we followed a path that went in a spiral to the top. Interesting bits of history along the way. The wind was bone chillingly cold. Not to be hung about in too long that’s for sure.
The earliest known painting of Bluff wharf by C.D. Barraud.
The first ship known to have entered the harbour was the Perseverance in 1813, in search of flax trading possibilities. James Spencer is credited as Bluff’s first European settler. In 1824 he purchased land from Tuhawaiki, built a house and established a fishing station which employed twenty one people. This was the beginning of Bluff, which today has the longest history of any town in New Zealand. However, the missionary settlement at Kerikeri was both earlier and larger and the town is now larger than that of Bluff. The town was officially called Campbelltown in 1856, became a borough in 1878, and was renamed Bluff in 1917.
Initial problems of reaching Invercargill across a huge swamp were overcome by one of New Zealand’s first railway lines. Construction began in 1863 and the line was opened in 1867.
Not sure what’s going on with the dates here.........
.................but we read all the information boards with interest.
Bluff as seen by NASA.
Back to our looking out. The lighthouse on Dog Island.
The sea looked incredibly blue. We could just see Stewart Island under the clouds.
Tiwai Point lies at the entrance to Bluff Harbour. A spit which extends from the western end of the Awarua Plain, it lies between Awarua Bay to the north and Foveaux Strait to the south. It is famous for the Tiwai Point Aluminium Smelter, one of the largest industrial facilities in New Zealand.
Mable with Bluff beside her.
OK, I’ve admired the telecommunications thingy, spun through 360 degrees, I’m frozen to the bone, it’s starting to rain – I’m off.
The port was built on a reclaimed sandbank. Happy to be defrosting, heat full on.
Down on the flat once more, the connection to the aluminium plant looked very impressive.
The first time we ever heard of Bluff was when we visited Canterbury Museum in Christchurch. Fred and Myrtle Flutey filled their home with polished paua. They lived on Marine Parade and were national treasures, appearing in television adverts, one in the 1990’s for McDonald’s. These much beloved residents welcomed all comers to their incredible home that, after they died, passed to a family trust, was bought by one of their grandsons and sold to an Australian couple. Their home has been copied to the last detail and their shell collection as was, is on loan to the museum for ten years until 2017. No one seems to be sure what will happen to the shells then.
Time to head back to Invercargill, passing more murals.
As we drove through to our Top 10 Camp Site, we saw another rainbow.
ALL IN ALL A BIT TOO TIRED AND REMOTE FOR MY LIKING
A BIT SPARTAN WITH GREAT VIEWS FROM THE LOOKOUT