Bluff, The Southern Most Town In New Zealand
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I gathered my fleece closer around my cheeks and chin, trying to bury my nose into the fabric as far as it would go. The cold air bit at every inch of exposed flesh, and the dull grey skies didn't help lift my mood. A sea gull, black and white and large was peering at me intently, trying to determine if I had any food concealed within the folds of my bulky jacket. Only a few minutes before I had finished some fish and chips, so perhaps he could smell it on my breath. His beady little eyes looked intimidating, and I really had to rememeber that this was a bird, not an evil spirit come to peck my eyes out.
I was standing at Bluff, the southern most town in New Zealand, and I was in the tiny inconspicuous carpark that marks the end of State Highway 1, the road that runs the length of the country.
There is not much at Bluff, it is a fishing town not set up for tourists, yet it is the place you must go to reach Stewart Island, 32 kms across Foveaux Strait. At the wharfs, fishing boats bob up and down, waiting for their chance to dive into the Southern Ocean, daring its massive swells and storms. Bluff is also the home of "Bluff oysters", a delicacy known throughout the country. These oysters are only found around Bluff, and are harvested for a limited time in the Autumn, fetching colossal prices at the markets. The Bluff Oyster Festival is held in the town once a year, celebrating this delicious shellfood.
The town is named after the 265 metre Bluff Hill, which has a road way leading to its summit. From the spiral-shaped lookout at the top, it is possible to see Stewart Island on a good day. On a bad day, you only see clouds. Grey clouds, stretching to infinity and beyond, impermeable and solid.
The car park at Sterling Point has one of those signposts giving distances to cities around the world, and after taking the trouble to come this far, it would be a shame not to get your photo taken with it. A walkway leads from the car park around the base of Bluff Hill, and past some of the early Maori history (evidence of settlements dating back to the 13th century have been found).
The Bluff Maritime Museum is also found nearby, giving a history of the town.