On the ninth day of our big trip, we drove from Invercargill to Te Anau. To drive straight there would have taken only a couple of hours, so we decided to take a longer route and see more sights. W went west and a little south, and stumbled across a historical museum in Riverton. Because it was raining, we decided to spend part of our day there—it was dry inside! The museum was very interesting. Our tour started with a movie about the Maori and the first white settlers in the area, and then we spent time exploring the wonderful exhibits. Someone noticed this poster, showing gems that can be picked up at a nearby beach, and Esther took a picture of it. The boys enjoyed the room with all the rocks! I liked the historical exhibits better, but this room was quite interesting, too.
We found Gemstone Beach on the map, so we decided to stop there. It was drizzling, but not too hard. The group of people in the center of this picture are our children. They figured that the creek might be a good place to find gems.
This is what the beach looked like. Most of these stones are about 1/2-3/4 inch in diameter. Such a variety! I don’t think we found anything too valuable. We found a lot of jasper, and some that may have been jade, and a lot of others that were just plain beautiful. We filled a 2-quart bucket with them to bring home. They are still sitting in that bucket, except for a few that I put in a quart jar to weight it down so it wouldn’t spill when I put sunflowers in it.
Shortly after our visit to Gemstone Beach, where we ate our picnic lunch, we turned north and drove for a couple of hours to Te Anau. I would love to see what the area is really like; it was very cloudy and we couldn’t see the mountains that I’m sure were towering over us.
We saw a sign for a historic bridge, so decided on the spur of the moment to stop. That’s one thing I enjoyed about this trip. Most days, we had enough time that we could stop when we wanted to see something. We planned the trip so that, except for the last two days, we never drove more than 2-3 hours a day. This bridge was fun to walk across.