Sitting just below Invercargill, Bluff is well known for its oysters, whilst also being the home of the ferry to Stewart Island. Depending on the weather, you can sometimes have a clear view of Stewart island, other days you may not see anything. The popularity of this area is obvious by the number of tourists, huddling close to the iconic Bluff sign for photo opportunities.
Sitting just above the sign, is the Oyster Cove restaurant, with sweeping views out across the moody Foveaux Strait. This is the seaway which divides New Zealand’s South Island from Stewart Island. According to Maori legend, the strait was created by the obedient whale, Kewa, when summoned by the traditional Maori elder Kiwa to create a waterway.
Hence the Maori names for the strait being Te Ara a Kiwa “the path of Kiwa”, or Te Ara a Kewa “the path of the whale”.
No matter where you are seated within Oyster Cove, the huge floor to ceiling windows provide a panoramic, moving vista, whist you enjoy your meal.
Mouthwatering treats await you on the menu, this Paua Cob loaf made for a hearty meal. Hubby partnered this with the creamy, delicious Seafood Chowder. It wasn’t the season for the famous bluff oysters, however he intended on having as much local seafood as he possibly could throughout the trip.Today, my choice was the lamb, which simply melted in my mouth, being so soft and tasty.Presentation was eye catching and overall, staff were very considerate and helpful. The entire atmosphere of this venue rates very highly. Exceedingly high ceilings complement those massive windows, giving an air of spaciousness.
With a belly full of good food, you are probably now ready to head outside. When we entered Oyster Cove, the day was quite pleasant. By the time we left however, the prevailing chilly, southerly wind had pushed cloud over the area. Still, there was time for a trip up the Bluff Hill to take in some views from the lookout, before the rain set in.Even though a little murky, you could still see out across Bluff itself. Keep in mind the weather here is generally coming directly from the mass of ice surrounding the South Pole. That wind can have quite a bite to it.
Have a look in the opposite direction, to see the last inhabited land mass before Antarctica, Stewart Island. Today, barely visible, but still enough to make out the outline of 1746 square kilometres of island, home to about 380 permanent residents.
Historic Bluff is worth the short 20 minute drive from Invercargill, at least once. Many houses here are still the original workers homes from days gone by. A lot have been remodelled and improved, yet still retain their heritage.
Visit during the Oyster festival in May, and you will find the roughly 1800 population of hardy souls, swells by an additional 4000 for the festival duration. Be sure to purchase your tickets well in advance if you’re interested, as they do sell out very quickly!
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