Day 3, Sunday
Timaru – Oamaru – Moeraki – Dunedin – Invercargill – Bluff
The next township is the ornate Oamaru, which is about an hour’s drive away (down south on SH1, also part of the Southern Heritage Route), was once a prosperous and booming gold-rush town, evident from its many impressive buildings made of local limestone rock.
The enchanting Moeraki Boulders.
Another 30 minute drive down south on the SH1 will bring you to the mysterious, ethereal Moeraki Boulders. Maori legend claims the boulders are food baskets washed overboard from the ancestral canoe Te Araiteuru, which brought the first Maoris to New Zealand. Geologists however, argue that they are concretions, the crystallising of mudstone forming hard, weathering-resistant rocks. A café above the beach has an alfresco setting, where lunch is paired with superb views of the Pacific Ocean.
78km further down south on the SH1 is Dunedin (pronounced ‘done-eden’), New Zealand’s fourth largest city. Dunedin’s main sights include the 47m tall Italianate Municipal Chambers and the Neo-Gothic St. Paul’s Cathedral at the heart of the city referred to as the Octagon. There is also First Church, built in Neo-Gothic style, and the imposing Flemish-Renaissance Dunedin Railway Station. The bluestone tower registry block of the state University of Otago, New Zealand’s oldest university, dating back to 1878 which was modeled after Scotland’s Glasgow University.
Bluff, arguably the southernmost town of South Island, is a three hour drive away. Take SH1 to the town of Clinton, turn right into SH93 (a shortcut) before rejoining SH1 at Mataura town to continue to Bluff. En-route, you may wish to pop by Invercargill City, where landmarks include the Water Tower and the Troopers Memorial War Monument at the intersection of Dee and Tay Streets. Try the delectable meal of the famed Bluff Oysters (in season from April to September) for dinner at the Land’s End restaurant, located at Stirling Point overlooking Foveaux Strait, where SH1 ends and mandatory snapshots of the famous Stirling Point signpost are taken.