Southern Scenic Route

After enjoying Milford Sound we worked out we had a few days to get to Dunedin before we started to look for work.

We thought of driving straight there, but after looking at maps noticed there is a southern scenic route that takes you around the roads along the very south of the island.

Seeing as how the route takes you from Te Anau to Dunedin we figured it would be a perfect scenic drive. Each day we had no idea where we would end up staying, we just played it completely by ear, which is always a more interesting way to go it.

Day 1: Te Anau to Riverton

We set off on 21st of March from Te Anau driving almost directly south. There was not a lot of places to stop since it was all just driving past hundreds of sheep paddocks. The day was overcast and we were uncertain  if it would rain. We did see a cool rainbow with the mountains in the background.
See the rainbow?

We visited the Rakatu Wetlands where it was extremely windy!

Rakatu Wetlands Fem in the wind Rakatu Wetlands

A little further south was the Clifden suspension bridge.

Clifden Suspension Bridge

When we got to McCraken’s Rest at the southern ocean, the skies were seriously grey.

McCraken's Point So what is nearby?

Not long afterwards it started raining heavily, so we decided to stop over at the sea side town of Riverton that night. Setting up the tent did not seem like a good idea so we got a room at the local pub.

Day 2: Riverton to Slope Point

We started the day by checking out the nearby beaches and I saw a really different type of seaweed for the first time.

Weird Seaweed Magnum near the beach

The beaches themselves were not that spectacular but we could see the mountains of Steward Island.

Afterwards we visited the Riverton museum which was pretty good, then we set off again!

We had lunch at Invercargill and in the afternoon we stopped at Waipapa Point to check out the lighthouse and the sea lions on the beach.

Sea Lions on the beach Close up of sea lions Waves crashing on the rocks

That night we stayed at Slope Point which is the southern most point on the South Island. At sunset we went to close to the point itself and ended up with these nice shots!

Slope Point sheep padock at sunset Sunset at Slope Point

Since we were in a sheep paddock, the local sheep where most interested in seeing what we were up to!

Three curious sheep

On the way back to our tent that night, I was able to get this nice moon shot.

Moonlit seascape

The night was really really cold, but we knew how to rug up and were prepared for it.

Day 3: Slope Point to Kaka Point

We first went back to Slope Point again and visited the true end of the point to officially be at the most southern end of the South Island!

Fem at Slope Point Me at Slope Point

After this we saw a Petrified Forest at Curio Bay. This was interesting to see as you could see where trees once stood and remains of fallen trunks.

View of Curio Bay Petrified Forest

Around the corner was Porpoise Bay where there was giant waves crashing against cliffs and some good views.

Porpoise Bay Big Wave

That afternoon we went to various waterfalls in the area, for the first one I did not take my tripod so it was just the usual waterfall shots.


For the second one which was the Purakaunui Falls which are highly regarded, so I took the tripod and got these cool shots shown below.

Purakaunui Falls Falls nearby to Purakaunui Falls

Below shows the view from the Florence Hill lookout. The weather was awesome for the day!

Florence Hill Lookout East on Florence Hill

Later in the afternoon we meant to go through the Tunnel Hill. This is an abandoned tunnel just inland from Kaka Point and we needed our headlight torches to go through.

It was a rather spooky tunnel and we had not gone more than 10 metres into it when Fem was really uncomfortable and insisted we turn back. I didn’t have too much trouble with this decision as it was rather unsettling in the tunnel!

Entrance to tunnel Tunnel Hill

Penguin on the beachWe set up camp at Kaka Point that night. There were lots of people there for the Easter break so we just had to put up with a lot of noise but that’s nothing new. 🙂

We heard you could view these very rare yellow eye penguins at Nugget Point so right on dusk we went to the point to see what we could find.

There was a hidden shelter that people could use to observe the penguins. There ended up being about twenty people there looking at the beach. After waiting for only about ten minutes, we were so fortunate to  see six penguins over the hour or so!

I know you can always see more close up in a zoo, but it’s always more thrilling to see them in their natural environment. At all times the penguins were at least 200 metres away so it was handy to have a long zoom!

Penguins making their way to shore

Day 4: Kaka Point to Dunedin

On the final day we went back to Nugget Point again to look at the lighthouse. On the way we saw a massive sea lion sunning himself on the beach, so quickly pulled over and took some shots.

Sea Lion on beach

After letting the sea lion enjoy some early morning rays we continued on to the light house. This is just on the other side of the bay where we saw the penguins the previous evening.

We started walking there and turned around the corner and the views just took my break away. It was utterly stunning! Much better than the lighthouse at Byron Bay in Australia.

Nugget Point lighthouse

At the base of the ‘mini mountain’ that the light house was one there were dozens of seals and their pups just playing in the water or resting on the rocks. I needed my zoom lens to capture them but it was fun to watch them.

Seals at Play Seals at Play

We walked up to the lighthouse itself and were treated to even more stunning views on the other side.

Nugget Point and Rocks Nugget Point rocks

After leaving Nugget Point we headed north. There were no other interesting points of interest on the way. After having lunch at Waihola, we decided to continue all the way to Dunedin.

We still followed the official Southern Scenic Route to the very end which was the outskirts of Dunedin and we were rewarded with this sign!

End fo the Southern Scenic Route

So after 4 days and travelling from Te Anau to Dunedin, the Southern Scenic Route was completed.

We set ourselves up at a holiday park in Dunedin and the following day we started to look for work. Yet again, things did not go to plan. More on this in the next post.