Invercargill (pop. 52,000) feels like Grand Forks, ND. It's flat, quiet and the streets are laid out on a grid system. The sky is big, the air is crisp and the people are kind. Jun, one of my former students, works in Invercargill at an practice with four optometrists. He is one of only three who moved to the south island. I showed up in town the other day and met him at his clinic before we headed off for lunch. We'd planned to wander to Stewart Island (pop. 5300) for the weekend.
It seemed early when Jun and I took the ferry across this morning at the tender hour of 9:30AM. I really wanted to slept in when my alarm went off at 7AM. Jun picked me up and the two of us took a thirty minute drive from Invercargill to Bluff, the embarkation point for the one hour ferry ride, which was smooth sailing, free coffee and perfect blue skies. We couldn't have had a better day.
We've landed at a small hostel on Stewart Island. Today we walked around the island and on the advice of a local woman, took a water taxi to Ulva Island, which is a predator-free bird sanctuary about five minutes away by boat- truly an enchanting place. We didn't see a kiwi bird, but did see a penguin and several other native birds. Tomorro Jun'll be going back to Invercargill and I'll head off on the Raikura Track for a couple days of tramping before heading back to the mainland.