We followed signs for the Clifden Cave .  We turned up a narrow lane and found the small parking lot; it was empty, and nobody else was around.  We climbed over a stile into a sheep pasture, and we soon came to a little hole that led into the ground. 
      There was a sign beside the entrance giving information about the cave, and also warnings: “Do not enter the cave without at least two light sources per person.  Do not enter the cave if you are claustrophobic.  Cave is prone to flooding.  Hard hats should be worn.  Do not enter the cave if it is raining, or if it has been raining, or if it looks like it might rain.  Be sure you have warm dry clothing.  Be sure you have extra dry clothing for when you get wet.  Be sure you like to get wet.”  Or words to that effect.   
     The mouth of the cave looked dark and narrow, just a hole in the middle of a bank in the pasture, with mud and rocks and debris washed into it.  After reading the sign, we hesitated before going in, questioning the wisdom of the endeavor.  ‘But after all,’ we figured, ‘it’s in the guidebooks and on the road maps, marked as a tourist attraction, and it’s open to the public.  How unsafe can it be?’  (Do you detect a bit of literary foreshadowing here?)  In we went.

     We ducked into the hole and entered the tunnel.  Before long it opened up into a wider chamber, maybe ten feet across, and the floor was strewn with rocks.  So far so good!  But as soon as we rounded the bend and were out of sight of the entrance, it became dark.  Very dark.  And our torches (NZ for flashlights) were small, very small.  We followed the tunnel into the hill, and it became narrower and wetter as it sloped downwards.  The route through the cave was marked with small fluorescent arrows that shone in our torch lights.  Underfoot were rocks and water-filled crevices. 
     Soon the route through the cave became really narrow, climbing down, down, through damp chambers and under low overhangs.  As we bumped our heads on the ceiling repeatedly, the reason for the hard hat recommendation became obvious.  There were many false passages and side tunnels, but we could follow the little arrows with our torches to find our way.  We were careful to keep checking behind us, making sure that we didn’t get out of sight of the markers that would show us the way out again.
     We turned off our torches and stood in absolute darkness.  The blackness seemed not just an absence of light, but an entity in itself, a palpable thing.  It became increasingly clear to us that if our flashlights failed, we wouldn’t have a chance in hell of finding our way out of there. 

     Presently we came to what seemed like a dead end.  The information sign had indicated that the cave stretched on for quite a long ways before exiting the hillside at another location, but we could not at first see where to continue.  Finally we saw a marker - surely that arrow isn’t pointing to that little hole near the floor . . . but of course, it was.  We had to crawl into an opening so small that we could barely wiggle through.  The warning sign at the entrance might as well have included, “Be sure you don’t mind getting down on your belly and slithering like a snake over cold wet rocks!”


     We kept following the path down, deeper into the hillside.  In many places we had to crawl on our hands and knees, or wiggle through narrow spots on our stomachs.  In other spots we had to climb up over steep boulders, always trying to be careful not to bang our heads on the low ceilings, or to drop our torches.  Soon we were very wet and muddy from clambering through the damp passages. 
     Once past the tight bits, the way opened up again enough that we could walk upright, though constantly minding our heads.  The floor was rough with rocks and fissures; we carefully picked our way through.  We were very cautious with our torches, taking care not to drop them or bang them against the walls.  We did not have two lights each like the sign had suggested, though I did have some extra batteries in my pocket.  It would clearly be impossible at this point to negotiate our way out if we lost our lights.  And judging from the look of the parking lot, it might be days or even weeks before anyone else ventured in.  We became more and more aware of the danger of what we were doing.  I started thinking that we were likely to die down there!


     The cave was eerily beautiful.  Stalactites hung from the ceiling, slimy with the limestone-rich water that dripped from a hundred rock formations above.  We passed through larger chambers where we saw tiny pinpricks of light overhead - they were glowworms, attached to the ceiling.  We flicked off our torches, and their phosphorescence shown like a starry night sky.
     I tried to take photographs, but it was difficult with no light.  Jineen would shine her flashlight on the wall to give me a spot to focus the camera on, and then I would take a photo with the flash, with no idea what I was pointing at.  Some of them came out amazingly good!

     It was nearly silent except for our own footsteps and breathing.  Presently we started hearing an eerie sort of pinging sound, echoing through the cave; water dripping from high above into a pool somewhere.  It was spooky.  I half expected to turn a corner and come face to face with Gollum, or some other creepy denizen of the deep dark places of the world. 
     The tunnel got wetter; there were many pools of standing water, often deeper than they looked.  The limestone formations became larger and more magnificent.  The sounds of dripping water became louder.  After about an hour, we climbed down a particularly steep treacherous section of tunnel and found ourselves facing a small underground lake, which blocked our path. 
     The water looked black, and very deep.  The sign when we entered the cave had told us of this lake, and indicated that there was a ledge that could be traversed around the left hand edge of it.  Jineen wedged herself down through a narrow crevice to the edge of the lake to get a closer look.  The ledge was treacherous; about ten inches wide, tilted at an alarming slope, and beneath about a foot of water.  The walls were smooth, wet, and inward sloping, with nothing for possible handholds.  We decided it was impassable.  It was amazing to us that the sign had even suggested that you could negotiate that ledge.  The tunnel we had already come through was dangerous enough, but the ledge would be practically suicidal.  If you fell in the water, it would be very difficult to get up the slippery sides and back onto the ledge.  There is no way a cave such as this would have ever been open to the public in the US !  

     We went back the way we had come, now clambering up through the narrow passages we had come down.  Still proceeding with caution, we bellied through the tight places.  We noticed that the numbers of the glowworms had increased dramatically, as if our passing had woken them.  Eventually we saw a pinprick of daylight ahead of us, literally a light at the end of the tunnel.  It was the entrance!  

     We emerged, well coated with limestone and mud.  It seemed strange to return outside to the living world again, to a green pasture and a light rain.  We watched a weasel running up the hillside and a stoat dart into the underbrush by the road.  We returned to the (still empty) carpark, tired but exhilarated by our adventure. 

     We drove west again, back into Fiordland, to Lake Hauroko , where we had heard there was a really good hike.  The DOC sign said that it was a 3 hour return tramp to Lookout Point, and warned that the trail was steep in places.  But we knew all about steep tracks, after all, we had already hiked to the top of at least two mountains.  And really, how steep could it be?  (Do you see a pattern emerging?)

     When we got out of the car the sandflies started swarming; we had found that anywhere near the water, if you left the door open for ten seconds the car would be full of these obnoxious little pests.  But once you started walking the sandflies would pretty well disappear, and they never bothered us while we were hiking.
     We set out along the trail beside the lake.  For the first half an hour it was level, and we picked our way among the puddles; it had rained hard that morning, so the ground was very wet.  Soon the path started to climb, winding up through the beach forest.  The track up the side of the mountain was quite steep, but instead of having switchbacks like some of the other trails we had encountered, this one went straight up the mountainside.  The path was difficult to follow; it was very small, and only marked with occasional arrows.  We scrambled up the slippery slope, climbing uneven steps improvised from the roots of the trees.  Much of the way the path was sheer enough that it was like climbing a ladder.  It was exhausting work, grabbing handholds on the roots and trees, and heaving our way up.  The air was cold and damp, but soon I was drenched in sweat.

     Half way up, I was ready to give up.  The going was so difficult and treacherous that I didn’t think we would make it.  I tried not to look too far ahead; I told myself to just focus on the path in front of my feet and keep slogging away.  We would stop every little while to gasp for breath, and our legs were burning.  Jineen was quite sick with a cold, so she wasn’t saying much; but she appeared to be handling the trail all right.  Damn!
     Three quarters of the way up I thought I would die.  My legs were like rubber, and it was harder and harder to find the energy to pull myself up the face of the mountain.  This was by far the most difficult trail we had faced.  The others had been steep, but with decent paths; this one was just a slick staircase of roots and rocks and mud.  We had been climbing straight up for over an hour.  I tried not to think, but to just keep putting one foot in front of the other as we scrambled up the slope.  I felt like Frodo going to Mordor.  I kept thinking, ‘Maybe Jineen will say she isn’t feeling well, and will want to turn back.’  But she didn’t, and I wasn’t about to suggest it; I didn’t want to be a wimp!
     (Jineen later told me that on the whole top half she was dying, and that she kept saying to herself hopefully, “Maybe Phyllis will suggest turning back . . .)

     As we neared the summit, we started to get some great views from the high rock outcroppings.  The air was colder, and the day was still a dreary grey.  Whenever we came to an open space, the cold wind would whip in our faces.  We were yearning for the top.  Every time we thought we were almost there, we would turn a bend and find yet more mountain looming above us.
     When we finally, finally, got to the top there was a massive rock, sitting on the very summit, with the path climbing right up onto it.  We stood on the peak and looked out; we could see around us almost 360 degrees.  Lake Hauroko stretched out far below us, with surrounding mountains in the distance.  Even though the weather was gloomy, the view was spectacular as we sat there surveying the world beneath us.  The wind was keen and sharp and we were wet from the exertion; I changed into a dry shirt.  Now that we had actually made it to the top, we felt that familiar sense of exhilaration – we wouldn’t have missed it!  I realized that there is no way we would have turned around halfway; we had been too determined to get to the top.  (On the other hand, if we had known how difficult it was going to be, we may never have started . . .)   


     But now we had to go down!  If the trip up was exhausting, the one down was frighteningly treacherous.  We went slipping and sliding down the slick path, grasping on to trees and roots to keep ourselves upright.  We often had to turn around, face towards the mountainside, and climb down like a ladder – but one with slippery unevenly-spaced rungs.  We both lost our footing dozens of times, barely catching ourselves.  Once Jineen slipped and fell into a tree, and I inadvertently negotiated several portions of the trail on my butt.  
      At one point I went down an especially steep and difficult part of the track.  I was congratulating myself on negotiating it successfully when Jineen, still far above me, called down to ask if I had seen a trail marker recently.  Damn!  I had taken a wrong turn; I had to climb back up that really nasty section of the trail!
     Eventually we made it down.  Our legs were trembling with exhaustion by the time we stood by the side of the lake.  We had not seen another soul on the whole hike.  We felt a great sense of accomplishment - we had made it.  But we did have a new-found appreciation for the DOC warning signs.  How steep could it be?  We had found out!
     When we returned to the car, we needed a plan to keep the swarms of sandflies from getting in with us.  We decided to create a diversion.  Pointing away from the car, I loudly called, “Hey look, sandflies, over there!  Fresh meat!”  While they were investigating we jumped in; it worked.  Only 2 or 3 made it inside the vehicle, and they were soon smushed. 

     We left Lake Hauroko at 7:30 in the evening, and since Clifden had proved to be nearly nonexistent, we headed towards the town of Tuatapere , where we hoped to find some hot food and a room for the night.  Soon it was raining quite hard, though fortunately it had waited (once again) until we had finished our hike.  We were tired, damp and hungry, and ready to settle in for the night.
     It was after eight o’clock when we got to Tuatapere, and we found no motels or B&Bs, just one rather seedy looking backpackers lodge that didn’t appeal to us.  We were getting worried that all the restaurants would be closed for the night.  But luckily the take-away place was still open, and we got some excellent fish and chips for dinner.  The blue cod was delicious, a white flaky mild fish fried in a light batter, and the chips (NZ for French fries, of course) were cooked just right.  They do fish and chips really well in NZ!  Feeling much warmer and fuller, we hit the road in search of a room.
     Our route took us down along the very southern coast of New Zealand .  Consulting our map, we passed through the towns of Te Tua, Te Waewae, and Waihoaka.  No lodging.  These small towns are all marked on the maps, but you can’t tell from that which ones really are towns, and which ones turn out to be just unmarked crossroads.  There was nothing in Orepuki, Oraka or Tihaka.  We saw a sign for a hotel in Colac Bay , but when we turned down the lane we found a crummy little abandoned-looking bungalow next to the sea, with a sign that said ‘For Rent.’  It looked like a total dive; we drove on.  Up until that night we’d had no trouble finding a room, but now we were starting to panic a little.  On this least traveled bit of lonely coastline the problem wasn’t that the rooms were all booked up; it was that there were just no rooms there at all!   

     Finally, just before the town of Riverton , we saw a sign for the High View B&B.  It was nine o’clock when we knocked on their door.  It was cold, and the wind was blowing really hard, and between our caving and climbing that day, we were filthy, wet, and covered in mud.  We were lucky they let us in.  They asked us if we wanted to see the room before committing to it - we said no, that wouldn’t be necessary - we didn’t feel like we were in a position to be choosy.  But in any event, it turned out that the room, like the house, was lovely.  We had a beautiful view of an estuary from our bedroom window.
     Our hosts were Bryan and Robin Barnes, and they were extremely interesting and nice people.  They were retired sheep farmers, and had started a B&B a few years ago after selling their farm.  They served us tea and cookies, and we had a nice chat.  We were tired, and Jineen, still fighting her cold, went off to bed, but I stayed up quite late talking with Bryan and Robin.
     They were really interesting to talk to.  They had traveled all over NZ, and Bryan was very familiar with just about every place we had gone on the trip.  One of the few things he hadn’t done, however, was go through the Clifden Cave .  I told him about our experience there, and he told us that a few weeks earlier a man had been trapped in the caves by flooding – he had to stay in there for the better part of a week before the water levels dropped enough that rescuers could get him out. 
     I mentioned that we were surprised at how unsafe the caves were, and that we were really amazed that the public was allowed in them.  That would never happen in the U.S. , but New Zealanders seem to have a different perception of risk.  Bryan responded by telling me that when he had traveled to Canada on a camping and hunting trip, he and the other New Zealanders in his party would take risks that the Americans and Canadians wouldn’t. 
     “Like what?” I asked him.
     “Oh, like keeping the tucker (NZ for food) in the tents,” he told us.  “All of those guys, they were hanging their tucker out in trees  and such, away from the campsite so as not to attract bears, but me and my buddies kept ours in our tents; I didn’t want some varmints getting my food!  The Americans, they were having a fit that we did that.”
     “Well, you know,” I pointed out, “people do actually get eaten by grizzly bears out there.”
     “Oh, yeah,” he replied, “but really, of all the people who go out there, only a very small percentage of them actually get eaten!”  I guess this falls into the ‘acceptable risk’ category, at least for a man from a country with no native land mammals!       

Day 10
     When we woke up in the morning, it was raining, cold, and the wind was blowing extremely hard.  We were not in a hurry to get on the road.  Robin fixed us a delicious ‘cooked breakfast,’ and we sat in the warm kitchen and talked.  The wind was so strong that the rain was going absolutely horizontal across the valley.  Bryan and Robin told us a lot about NZ wildlife, farming, and conservation of nature.  We talked about great places that we had all visited, and they told us about many more that we hoped to see someday.   
     Robin and Bryan made us feel very at home and comfortable.  We had a shared interest in nature and the outdoors, so we really enjoyed their company.  They invited us to spend the day with them and stay another night.  We had been going really hard the whole trip, and we were still tired from our assault on Lookout Point the day before, so this sounded attractive.  Besides that, it was pouring rain!  We decided to stay.  We had been covering a lot of ground so that we could see as much as possible, experience as much as possible, but sometimes it is nice to stop and just ‘be’ for a while.

     We came to really appreciate High View; it is a gorgeous spot.  It sat high up on a hill, which gave it panoramic views, but did nothing to block the wind.  We could sit in the living room and look out the picture window; the estuary below changed constantly with the tides.  They had a ‘tide clock’ in the living room; it kept track not of the time but of the tides. 
In the afternoon the rain stopped, though the wind was blowing harder than ever.  Bryan took us on a little excursion; he drove us along the coast to Cozy Nook, a small rocky bay where a few hardy cabins clung to the shore and braved the elements.  Nobody was about, and the tiny fishing village had an abandoned look to it, but upon closer observation we could see that people did actually live there.  With the waves crashing on the rocky shore and the wind raging fiercely, it seemed like a very hard place to live.


     We visited several spots along the coast.  The wind was relentless.  There were few houses and villages, but the rolling hills and green pastures stretched right down to the sea.  The trees were so windswept that they grew sideways.  When we stopped to get out, Bryan carefully faced the truck into the wind so the doors wouldn’t get ripped off.  When I tried to take photographs, it was blowing so hard I couldn’t hold the camera steady. 

     Bryan took us on a ‘bush walk’, a two hour hike through the forest.  The trail went through an old gold mining area, where there was a network of long-abandoned excavation sites, canals and mine-shaft openings.  It was a DOC track that went on for over fifty miles, but there were no signs or markers, and we would never have known of its existence but for Bryan .  Nor could we have found our way without him; there were many turn-offs and side trails, with nothing to indicate which way to go.   Bryan told us that a group of school children had gotten lost out there the week before; we could well believe it!
     It was a very peaceful and pleasant walk through the trees.  We saw numerous game trails and deer tracks, and large areas where wild pigs had been rooting up the earth beside the trail.  We didn’t encounter anyone else the whole way.  The walk ended at the home of some friends of Bryan ’s, where we had tea and admired the fabulous view of the sea from their living room picture window.  Robin picked us up and drove us back to High View.  
Bryan likes to collect rocks when he travels (as do I), and he had a basket of interesting stones in the kitchen.  When I admired them, he told me about his late mother’s rock collection; she gathered stones, polished them, and made them into jewelry.  He took us down to the tool shed to see them; there were boxes and boxes of them, of every imaginable color, polished to a glossy shine.  They were absolutely beautiful.  Bryan gave us wonderful gifts; he let us each choose several stones from the collection.  
     Robin fixed us a delicious and unusual dinner of whitebait and crayfish.  Or more specifically, the crayfish was delicious, and the white bait was unusual.  Crayfish is NZ for lobster, and she had prepared a whole bunch of crayfish tails.  They were smaller than Maine lobsters, and the flavor was slightly different, but they were excellent.  I personally can’t really say the same about the whitebait.
     Whitebait is a very popular dish in NZ, especially along the coast.  It consists of tiny little worm sized semi-transparent baby fish, caught in nets by the millions, mixed with egg, and cooked into patties.  Hearing about it, I had always thought it sounded kind of disgusting, but in actual fact, once I tasted it, I realized that I had been right – it was disgusting!  I gamely tried a few bites, but couldn’t actually bring myself to swallow.  Jineen, on the other hand, thought they were delicious; no accounting for taste I suppose.  That’s all right, she can have the whitebait; I’ll stick with the lobster!

     We talked long into the night.  We learned a lot about hunting and wildlife in NZ.  Bryan is an avid hunter, and he told us about the controversy over the DOC’s handling of wildlife.  The hunters want the game animals managed and conserved for hunting, which is the reason they were imported into NZ in the first place.  The DOC, on the other hand, would like to eradicate all non-native animals from the county entirely, as they damage the environment and threaten the indigenous birdlife.  We could certainly see both sides of the argument.
     We also learned about farming in NZ, and the extreme method of pasture rotation that is often used.  In the summer, the pastures are fenced off with electric wire into small sections, and a huge density of sheep or cattle are grazed in these small paddocks.  They eat it down to almost nothing; but only for a day.  The sheep are moved daily to a new section of the pasture, on a 100 day cycle – so once grazed, it would be 100 days before a paddock has sheep on it again.  The dairy cows are actually moved from paddock to paddock twice a day, at milking time, on a 30 day cycle.  This type of pasture management seemed really strange to us, but Bryan assured us that it is very efficient.  For winter forage, they plant fields with ‘swedes,’ a root vegetable like a rutabaga; they put the livestock in these fields and let them dig up the swedes themselves.  Also, they shear the sheep in late winter, before lambing time; this is so the sheep will be cold enough to seek shelter before lambing, so the babies are protected.

     One of the interesting things about travel is the different accents and phrases you encounter.  For instance, Brian had a tendency, like many New Zealanders we observed, to finish a comment by sort of trailing off the end of the sentence, having a pause, and then adding “. . . yeah . . .”
     Another thing that we noticed constantly was that in NZ they tend to use the word ‘wee’ instead of small or little.  As in, ‘I took a drive down the wee road.’  So for purposes of authenticity, I will use the word ‘wee’ instead of ‘little’ for the remainder of this story.
     We took a tour of Riverton, the nearest town, after dinner.  We watched a cloudy sunset, with the waves crashing on the rocky coast and the wind blowing the trees horizontal. 
     My abiding impression of this southern coast of the island was of the unrelenting wind, and the sense that the people were constantly battling the elements.  It was beautiful, but the conditions were tough - it was a windswept land, a hard place to farm.  It reminded me of parts of the west coast of Ireland , like Connemara .  We couldn’t imagine what it must be like to live there in the winter, when the wind is blowing constantly, cold and hard.  But Robin had a more pragmatic approach; she said, “Oh well, you know, you can always put on more clothes when it’s cold, but if you live where it’s hot you can only take but so many off!”
     We had really enjoyed our day, and it was great getting to know Bryan and Robin.  We had learned a lot about the country, and had a relaxing and restful day.  We were glad that we had decided to stay.

Day 11 
We awoke to brilliant sunshine, and gazing out our bedroom’s picture window, the valley below us looked golden.  Jineen had whitebait leftovers for breakfast, but I stuck to eggs and toast.  After breakfast we hiked up the big hill behind the house with Bryan .  From the top we could see the ocean off the back side of the hill, and the whole valley along the estuary to the front of the house.  The wind was still blowing (surprise!), but it was much warmer.
     There was a thicket of bushes and underbrush on the hilltop; we climbed through the wire fence and went inside to collect ferns.  We gathered quite a lot of them, to take to my mother for her dried flower arrangements and wreath-making; now the question was how to get them home!

     We visited the paddock beside the house, where Bryan kept his animals.  He had three Tahrs, which are a kind of Himalayan goat.  They are very agile, and have long warm magnificent coats.  He also had several pet red deer ; they were quite tame, unlike some we had seen on farms along the roadside.  They came when he called them, and we got to see them up close - they had the most beautiful eyes.  One of them had a wee fawn, but we never got to see it, as the mom had it so well hidden.


     Robin had three orphan lambs that she bottle fed, although they were actually quite big to still be on milk.  With the dubious assistance of Bonnie, her bouncy wiggly Labrador retriever puppy, Robin gave them their breakfast, holding a bottle in each hand and the third between her knees as they pushed and shoved in a woolly feeding frenzy.

     We said our goodbyes to Bryan and Robin, and hit the road once again. 

     We set out along the coast, hoping to see some interesting wildlife.  We stopped by Porpoise Bay , where dolphins are often sighted; we were hoping to see sea lions and penguins, but all we saw was a really bad surfer.
     We followed the wee roads along the coast, and explored many small coves and harbors.  In some places the shoreline was rocky and rugged, and in other areas we found smooth sandy beaches.  At times the road would leave the coast and cross through rolling farmland with huge sheep stations before returning back down to the shore.
     We took the short hike to McLean Falls .  Following a trail through dense forest, we came to a lovely cascade - but this was only the introduction.  We continued upstream, and before long we came to a series of fabulous waterfalls, with 4 or 5 tiers.  We climbed up the rocks to the base of the highest waterfall, and sat listening to the roar of the water.  McLean Falls was one of the prettiest waterfalls we had seen in NZ, and that’s saying a lot!

     Our next stop was Niagara Falls .  I had read in the guidebook that this was one place in NZ that is an exception to the rule that the attractions exceed expectations, so I didn’t expect grandeur.  But I was not at all prepared for the reality.  Here was a spot that was on every map, in every brochure of must-see visits, and in all the guide books; but when we got there (and it was very well sign-posted, I might add), there was nothing more than a wee rapid, really not more than a riffle – you couldn’t remotely classify it as a waterfall.  On the bank was a sign, with a large comparison picture of the US/Canada Niagara Falls.  Some NZ surveyor apparently had a very tongue-in-cheek sense of humor.  I couldn’t quite decide whether to be amused or pissed off.  We were glad we had gone to McLean Falls first.

      We stopped at Florence Hill Lookout, a high viewpoint overlooking the beautiful sandy beaches of Tautuku Bay .  There was a small pond in a nearby pasture where a group of Paradise Shelducks were swimming.  Wanting to photograph them, I glanced around to be sure nobody was watching, then climbed the locked gate and snuck across the field to get my pictures.  But as I returned, two farmers, both older men, drove up and parked in front of the gate.  “Uh-oh,” I thought, “Busted!  I’m in trouble now!”  I expected a stern lecture for trespassing, at the very least.
     But of course, this was New Zealand .  The farmers unlocked the gate and opened it for me, pleasantly asked me if I got my photos, and told me all about the lifestyle and habits of the Shelducks.  He pointed out a blowhole in the rocky formation below, called Rainbow Island , where the sea would come crashing through a hole in the rock when a big wave hit.  It was typical of almost everyone we encountered in NZ to be so friendly and nice, even when we were engaging in a mild bit of trespassing.

     We had lunch in the Owaka Diner (with excellent orange-chocolate chip ice cream for dessert), and headed out to Surat Bay to look for sea lions.  We walked along the sandy beach; it was quiet and peaceful, and the waves were about the most gentle we had seen in NZ.  We were now on the eastern part of the south coast, and it was not nearly as windy as it had been further west - the weather was warm and pleasant.  We saw a sign that told us the bay was named for the sailing vessel Surat , which wrecked there in 1874.  We picked up moon shells and watched birds; a colony of gannets was nesting on a small rocky island just offshore.  But we saw no sea lions. 

     On our way back, we saw three girls riding horses along the beach.  Two of them were leading extra mounts, complete with tack; we really wanted to get on the two spare horses and go riding on the beach with them.
     When we returned to the car, we noticed that Manny, Jineen’s driftwood from Lake Manapouri , was positioned with his head over the back seat, presumably so he could look out the front.  Apparently he didn’t want to miss anything.  From then on, we made sure to pack the back seat so as not to obstruct his view.  Jineen was developing the alarming habit of talking to him; she said that he had been feeling neglected.

     ~ continued ~