Along the Away

a traveler's tales

Posts Tagged ‘ coastal ’

We had a whole week for our trip to Adelaide so we decided to spend two of the days on a trip to Kangaroo Island – I’m so glad we did as it was the highlight of our trip!

We wanted to make the most of our time so we booked to go with Adventure Tours Australia. My sister had been on a tour with them in Western Australia and had an excellent experience so we booked on the 2 day Kangaroo Island Explorer trip which cost just over $400 – and was worth every cent!

Starting bright and early on day 1 we were picked up from our hotel by a mini-bus and then transferred at the bus interchange onto a large coach to Jervis Cove where we would get the ferry to Kangaroo Island.

Kangaroo Island Ferry


We intended to spend our third day in Adelaide making the most of the city’s free bike program, which is open to everyone, everyday. Free bikes are located all around the city at places like tourist attractions, education centres, and hotels, and can be hired for daylight hours just by providing ID. It sounded like a great way to enjoy more of the path by the River Torrens, especially as the path runs all the way from the CBD to Henley Beach via the Linear Park Trail (more information is provided on the SA Trails website and on the Bikely website).

Unfortunately, despite our grand plans it was not to be. Free bikes can’t be booked ahead, it’s first in first served so we decided we better get in early. We walked to one of the university campus bike hire locations but sadly temperature restrictions kicked in! Bikes won’t be hired out on days forecast to reach over 38 degrees. This was a disappointment as we thought we’d be able to handle the heat considering we were starting so early in the day, however it is good to have safety precautions for the Australian heat.

We decided to get the tram to Glenelg Beach and walk along the coastal path there instead of cycling. The tram was easy enough to navigate to using the Metro trip planner again. Glenelg is at the end of the line so it was obvious when we arrived – especially the fresh salty air and beach greeting as right at the tram stop.

Glenelg to Henley Beach Walk Glenelg to Henley Beach Walk


Yes here I am, still continuing on with my New Zealand travel posts. From last year. From August. Oh well!

So there I was in Christchurch, with a week left before my flight to Sydney.

It’d been on my heart list for awhile to embark on a solo road trip. I’ve done this a couple of times in the past (my favourite to Byron Bay in 2007) and a couple of duo road trips (my faves were a week around the Irish coastline with my friend Anna when I was 21, and an almost-week meander around Tasmania with my friend Anette when I was 28).

After a while I start to feel a yearning to hit the road again.

For my last week in New Zealand I knew I wanted to hire a car and road trip. I studied the map and decided to take a mosey down the south east coast of the South Island.

Roadtrip to Oamaru

I booked a budget (but not bomb) option on a website called Economy Car Rental. I had a bit of trouble finding the pick-up location because the receipt named one local business pick-up but it actually operates out of another one – it wasn’t really made that clear on their website or booking process but other than that the hire experience was really positive. The guy at the local Scotties Rent a Car pick-up location was very helpful, setting up the navigation console and giving me multiple contact numbers in case I ran into any trouble.

I set my sights on driving south to stay the night in Oamaru. It took about three hours, and I ended up driving pretty much straight through as I left at 3pm and it fell dark before 6pm. It suited me to get into the swing of a long stretch in the driver seat listening to Jack Johnson on shuffle and sinking into the blissful nowhere-to-be, no-one-to-see state of mind after three weeks of jam-packed activity.

Roadtrip to Oamaru

2014 New Zealand (3614)

I stayed at the Empire Backpackers which I found online and booked that morning. I had a lovely stay there, appreciating the homely vibe and the main street location. I was welcomed by the hosts, given a tour around the common areas and accompanied up to my room whilst generously being offered suggestions for my short visit.

I stayed in a private room which was just perfect – a big comfy bed, heater, lamps – simple but clean and very ‘guest room’ like, it felt like staying with friends. I highly recommend a stay there if you end up in that part of the world.

2014 New Zealand (3612)

I walked the main street looking for somewhere to have a hearty meal; the neighbourhood was quiet and cold, but really beautiful – I knew it would look completely different in the daylight.

2014 New Zealand (3604)

I had a delicious bowl of soup at the Star and Garter Restaurant and then had an early night – there was not too much happening in Oamaru on a Saturday night!

2014 New Zealand (3601)

I was up early in the morning and took a stroll around the corner towards the Victorian Precinct. As is always my morning priority I looked for the perfect cosy cafe to enjoy breakfast and coffee, my absolute favourite meal of the day. There were a couple of contenders, I loved this sign at Steam Cafe, this sums it up ;-)

Roadtrip to Oamaru

But I kept on walking as the crisp morning beckoned and I wanted to explore a bit more.

Roadtrip to Oamaru

The Victorian Precinct is quaint! Such beautiful architecture; the European kind; the we’ve-been-around-for-ages historical kind; the kind we don’t see too often in the relatively young Down Under territory.

Roadtrip to Oamaru

There is a fascinating building called Steampunk HQ right in the heart of the precinct. On the website they explain:

Steampunk is a quirky and fun genre of science fiction that features steam-powered technology. It is often set in an alternate, futuristic version of 19th century Victorian England.

The Steampunk future is driven by unusual steam powered devices – the ‘world gone mad’ as Victorian people may have imagined it. Examples are machines like those in the writing of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, and in tv shows such as Dr. Who.

Oamaru is an ideal setting for Steampunk art and activities, given the wonderfully preserved and thriving Victorian buildings.

It was closed up when I walked by so early, I would have liked to go into the museum but settled for watching the interactive train/art piece out the front.

Steampunk HQ, Oamaru

Roadtrip to Oamaru

The Victorian Precinct feels like a step onto a movie set, the 19th century buildings are mostly made from the local limestone. The community has cultivated the olden day atmosphere of the buildings into the local businesses. Cafes, book stores, art galleries, gift stores. A stroll through feels quite magical.

Roadtrip to Oamaru

I stopped in for breakfast at the Woolstore Cafe, in the old Woolstore Complex, a grandly restored storehouse built in 1881, 100 years before I was born. I sat by the window and watched the early morning foot traffic made up mostly of people setting up for the weekend market.

Roadtrip to Oamaru

The precinct is located right on a small harbour so I walked around the back of the buildings towards the water.

It was eerily quiet, just me strolling around, the wind cool on my cheeks and my breath puffing out in little clouds in front of me. The texture of the buildings on this side was even more gorgeous, weathered away by the seafront. Old railway machinery rusted away.

Roadtrip to Oamaru

When one travels alone, occasionally they must use rusted railway machinery as a makeshift camera stand…

Roadtrip to Oamaru

I snapped, snapped, snapped away. Every turn I fell in love with the grungy-ness, the weathered beaten sturdiness of the buildings.

Roadtrip to Oamaru

The aching lonliness of the disused, once vital, infrastructure.

Roadtrip to Oamaru

It reminded me a lot of parts of England, like Cornwall maybe?

Roadtrip to Oamaru

The local tourism authority has done a good job of historical preservation balanced with just the right amount of visitor infrastructure and information. Too much and it ruins the atmosphere; but here, it is just enough.

Roadtrip to Oamaru

Roadtrip to Oamaru

Roadtrip to Oamaru

I stayed for half a day before feeling like it was time to get in the car. If I had all the time in the world I would have been happy to linger. I could have gone to the Steampunk HQ museum, visited the little penguin colony, explored more of the local cafes, but as it was I think it was enough.

I hopped in the car and headed toward Dunedin with my heart set on stopping to see the Moeraki Boulders on the way.

Somewhere before I came to them I followed a signpost to a lookout – I can’t even recall the name of it now, it was one of those whims you take while on the open road. Anyhoo, wherever this place was, I met a lovely sheep.

Roadtrip to Dunedin

Check out the view he has, just beautiful!

Roadtrip to Dunedin

About half an hour down the road I followed the turn-off signs and parked near the Moeraki Boulders Cafe & Gift shop. There is a direct access staircase to the beach directly next to the boulders which is signposted for patrons of the cafe only. I headed down to take a look at these marvelous mega-pebbles (I made that term up).

Roadtrip to Moeraki Boulders

Aren’t they spectacular?

The boulders started forming over 60 million years ago on the bottom of the ocean, and over the course of time ended up on shore. The biggest ones are 3 metres in diameter and weigh over a tonne. No wonder they aren’t floating off into the ocean!

Roadtrip to Moeraki Boulders

It was cool to spend some time walking along the beach watching – and dodging – the waves as they crash over the boulders, keeping them smooth and rounded.

Roadtrip to Moeraki Boulders

It started to rain after I had taken about a hundred photos so I climbed back up the stairs and took shelter in the cafe, had lunch and watched the ocean from the window. I wrote out some postcards as I lingered over a coffee.

Solo road trip at it’s best.

In my own time, in my own way.