Nearing the end of our South Island epic family roadtrip, we are staying two nights in Riverton. It’s my first time in this region of the country; James and I are both reminded of rural Pennsylvania due to the rolling hillsides and patchwork pasturelands along the road.

But then there’s the ocean. Or strait, more properly speaking. The Faveaux Strait runs between the South Island and Stewart Island, the third largest island of New Zealand. While we won’t be making the trip there this time (the ferry is quite expensive, actually!), we can see its shores from Riverton.

Our bach is darling. And it’s chilly here (the high today was 12C; that’s 53F). James has lit the fire in the fireplace both days and tonight Charlotte asked for a hot water bottle for her bed.

Although it hasn’t been warm enough for sunbathing or swimming at the beautiful beaches, we have had a great time.

Today we visited Monkey Island at low tide, when you can walk out to this little island remnant with stone steps to the top. It was really cute.

Scrambling over rocks on Monkey Island, Southland

Then we drove a bit further up the road to Gemstone Beach. Apparently semi-precious stones sometimes wash down from the mountains and then are thrown back up on the beach.

We didn’t find any ourselves, but we sure had a fun time searching. I’m pretty sure the kids’ usual game of running away from oncoming waves was in usual effect!

Searching the river water for gemstones.
When I asked him what he was doing, Cal said he was “digging this hole to protect this rock from the waves…”
Shoes got wet. Yes they did.
Examining the finds: mostly pounamu (greenstone).

After collecting some lovely greenstone, we piled back into the car and headed back to our cozy beach-side bach. We had lunch and the kids played for a bit. Then we drove to Invercargill (about 30 minutes away) to watch the Star Wars movie (again).

Tomorrow we drive to the Catlins, a rugged, remote area along the southern coast, where we’ll stay for three nights. Perhaps the skies will clear and we’ll be a bit warmer…?



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