Thats right. Bluff is not the southernmost point of New Zealand. It’s just that State Highway 1 ends there. (Bet that’s worth a few bonus points the next time you’re asked to supply a couple of quiz questions!)
And what does New Zealand do to mark this potential area of touristy attention? Not very much apart from a couple of discrete road signs. No fanfare, no cafe, no information boards, no venders, no hot dog or burger stands. Just a handful of dwellings spread over kms, a warped and twisted grove of ancient, vertically challenged trees and a field that recently hosted some cows. Yes, you are reading correctly. Cows. Cows that have left their presence felt and smelt in very obvious ways. And its all gravel/ unsealed road. (We discussed road classifications earlier…)
Slope Point is so understated that it doesn’t even have a formed path to get to it. There is a walkway alongside the field boundary of the farmers field (Public Right of way access) and then you are left to walk along the cliff tops to the light beacon and sign.
There were a couple of things that resonated with us and tugged at our heart strings here. The beauty of the remoteness and raw exposure of the land to the extremes of the weather. There are few trees here, and the ones that were, well they are definitely showing their age and the physical effort in competing against the prevailing winds. It reminded Neil of growing up on the Western Isles. Life is hard and unforgiving if you get it wrong. But the rewards are so much more personal and deserving. On the day of our visit, it’s a summers day in December, squally showers and a decent breeze is blowing from the south. In other words, it’s a very cold wind that’s come straight up from Antartica, over 4000kms away. And people live here!
Secondly, the rock formations around here are amazing. Not only do they look incredibly weird, there’s several different types (formations), all displaying different colour bands and jumbled up together as if somebody has squished all the plasticine together and battered it flat on top. But there’s no information board explaining anything! Okay, granted that a) it might not be very safe to stand around too long exploring the cliff tops and b) the wind would probably blow any information board over in the first decent coastal storm, and c) there’s possibly an underwhelming appreciation of the amazingly complex geological science given the prevailing physical weather conditions… (I admit 1 person hardly counts as a fan club, but it’s a start- Neil) but surely somebody could write something…
So it might take a bit of extra effort to get here, but with a bit of careful driving and a windproof jacket, we don’t think you’ll be disappointed. And how did Slope Point get its name? It’s not official, but I suspect that its because there is a very steep slope that goes from the field boundary to the edge of the cliff. Look again closely at the photograph at the top of the page and you can actually see the slope.