An Adventure at Slope Point, New Zealand

I am pretty ridiculous sometimes when it comes to the things I will do to get a photo I really want. One of those situations came to pass on the sixth day of my current trip to New Zealand. I really wanted photos of myself at the Northernmost & Southernmost points in New Zealand. As you can see from the photo above, I got the one at the Southernmost point, but it was a lot harder than it sounds.

Slope Point is the Southernmost point of New Zealand’s South Island. If you look at a map of the South Island, it’s hard to tell which of three points- Slope Point, Waipapa Point, or Sterling Point near the town of Bluff- is the furthest south. Most people go to Bluff, where a sign is also posted, but those who really know go to Slope Point.

The guidebooks all describe the hike out to the point as “an easy 20 minute walk through a sheep pasture”, which, in theory, it probably usually is. When I arrived, a storm had just rolled in.

I had just stretched out and gotten comfortable, when, abruptly, the rain stopped. I immediately threw on my raincoat, grabbed my point-and-shoot camera (no way was I taking my good SLR out there, in case it started pouring again), and started walking at a brisk pace.

I hadn’t made it more than a few hundred feet from my campervan when it started raining again. It had already been really windy (I found out later that the gusts went up to 75mph), and now the rain was going directly into my face. I removed my glasses and put them in my raincoat’s front pocket, as I couldn’t see anything out of them anyway, and I also do not have a very strong prescription.) The sheep pasture has a couple of easy rises you have to cross as you head toward the point. I was moving fast and being blown all around, so I didn’t notice the muddy tracks on the downside of the second hill. As soon as my sneakers hit the muddy patch, my feet came out from under me, I landed on my back, and slid to the bottom of the hill. I was stunned because I hadn’t anticipated it being that slippery. I took me a second to realize I was soaked and covered in mud and sheep dung.

Look at the grass being blown sideways by the ferocious wind

There wasn’t really much to do at that point. I’d come this far, there was no way I was just going to quit and head back to the campervan without my picture. I got up and kept trudging toward the marker in the distance.

I made it out to the point and was nearly blown off my feet by the raging winds. This posed a problem. I was the only one out there (the people from the other two cars that were in the parking lot when I pulled up had obviously chickened out), so I had no one to take the photo I needed. I tried taking them myself, but as you can see above, this didn’t really work. I knew if I put the camera on the ground and tried to use the timer, it would just blow over.

I ended up building a little shelter of heavy stone and using the timer. It took three times to get it right, but I finally got this workable photo, which I edited to the better looking on at the beginning of this post. Satisfied, and wind-blown, I headed back to my parking spot, this time being more careful about where I was walking.

Halfway back, the sky began to lighten and the rain slowed to a sprinkle, although the wind didn’t die down. On the way, I warned two sets of tourists who had just pulled up to watch out for the mud slick on the second hill.

I got out of it with a the picture I wanted, and the only damage was mud stains on my jeans and t-shirt, being soaked all the way to my underwear, and a pair of soggy tennis shoes. I was glad to have the campervan, which made changing into dry clothes much easier.

Hopefully, getting the Northernmost picture at Cape Reinga on the North Island is easier in a few weeks, but stay tuned….

6 Responses to “An Adventure at Slope Point, New Zealand”

  1. eriksmithdotcom says:

    Yes, these things happen to me!

  2. eriksmithdotcom says:

    Ugh… I didn't feel that way when I was soaking wt and covered in sheep shit! 🙂

  3. eriksmithdotcom says:

    I did it and it's a good story!

  4. I woulda been the chicken who stayed in the car. Way to go, Erik!

  5. Leah Travels says:

    The things we travelers won't go through to get what we want…good for you!

  6. Nikole74 says:

    Sounds like a great adventure…I can just picture you falling and sliding down the hill!!!  Very funny….sounds like you are having a wonderful time.  I cannot wait to hear all about this trip!

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