Invercargill: Penguins, Waterfalls, & Really Old Trees

Invercargill isn’t a very touristy city, but it was a great place to rest a little. Their accents are the thickest we’ve encountered so far in New Zealand! Tough for us to understand sometimes, but everyone was very patient with us about repeating themselves!

Our favorite breakfast place there was Zookeeper Cafe. They had great food, and we ate there both days we stayed in Invercargill. The Cafe also had relatively fast Wifi, which is hard to come by in most of New Zealand! Invercargill is also close to some amazing bays and wildlife, including tons of sheep! We’ve seen sooo many sheep while driving! New Zealand still has millions more sheep than people, and it was fun to see all of them.

It was incredibly windy along the coast. This giving many of the trees a “windswept” look. One of the places we stopped at on the way to Invercargill was Gemstone Beach. It’s a pretty and secluded area with impressive cliff faces, and interesting layered rocks. We didn’t see anything that looked like gemstones (to our very untrained eyes). That said, it was still a very lovely beach, and worth a stop.

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Windswept Trees

Porpoise Bay & Curio Bay

Some research led us to Porpoise and Curio Bay in search of a petrified forest. It took us a while to find the trees because we started in Porpoise Bay, without realizing the main forest is actually in Curio Bay.

Waves at Porpoise Bay

According to signage at the beach, you can often see dolphins swimming and jumping in the waves at Porpoise Bay. Although we didn’t see any, there were incredible views of the water, beach, and coastline. While we were walking, Joseph tripped on some mud, but pulled off a majorly impressive Matrix style move! He was able to punch the ground with his fist, flip over, and come up on his feet (all while holding the camera). He also managed to not get any mud on him! At least one of us is graceful!

Penguins & The Petrified Forest at Curio Bay

The petrified forest is home to some really, really, old trees. 170 million years old to be precise! Steady and heavy rain fell on ash-covered volcanoes, creating rivers of mud, ash, and rocks. The waters flooded hundreds of square miles, including the area which now makes up the petrified forest. The water, rich with silica from the ash, caused the trees to turn to stone within a span of a few months. We saw many trees lying in the water near the coast.

Along the bay, penguins nest in the brush beneath the cliff faces. This is one of the few places in the world people can get close to Hoiho, or Yellow-Eyed Penguin territory. These are the rarest penguins in the world! The best time to see these penguins is near dusk, but luckily one was hanging out in the brush near a cliff in the petrified forest.

McClean Falls

A sheep farmer we met while Salsa dancing recommended we check out McClean Falls. You need to hike a little bit to get there, but the trails were well maintained. The hike is 40 minutes there and back, and we spent a while at the top taking pictures. While we were up there, Sam was standing at the edge of the falls and something fell (leaped?!) out of a tree behind her and went over her shoulder. All of a sudden she saw a large rat scurry away, and climb into another tree! Tree rats!! Ack! Luckily that was the first and last rat encounter of the trip. 🙂

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McClean Falls

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