04-Mar-2016 -- The south-eastern corner of New Zealand’s South Island is dominated by farmland, so it’s quite surprising that the three degree confluence points in this area of the country are all in patches of forest. This is one case where degree confluence points don’t provide a representative sampling of an area’s geography.
After driving from Invercargill towards Dunedin through the beautiful Catlins region, I was able to visit this degree confluence point just before sunset. From State Highway 1, I turned left onto a series of gravel roads that ran past the western side of Lake Waihola, then became a series of forestry roads, running around the edge of the Berwick Forest (a commercial forest). I was able to drive within 500 m of the point, before a gate blocked the road. At this point, I parked my car and continued on foot.
As I walked towards the point, I was surprised to find that the surrounding forest had recently been cleared. This surprised me, because recent “Google Earth” satellite imagery - from 2014 - showed this area to still be forested. As I walked towards the point, I wondered: Would I be lucky? Would the area of forest surrounding the confluence point itself also be clear?
Alas, there was no such luck. A gravel forestry road passes just 50 m south of the point. To the south of the road, the forest has been cleared. But to the north of the road, the forest remained. In this area, the land slopes downwards towards a creek; the point lies just before the creek. Hiking in this forest here was difficult, due to the presence of numerous blackberry vines. Also, the slope of the land, combined with the tall trees all around, combined with the presence of downed trees and blackberry vines, made getting ‘all zeros’ very difficult, and I was quite fortunate to eventually ‘catch’ all zeros as my GPS display’s latitude,longitude reading wandered around (somewhat reminiscent of the early days of ‘Selective Availability’).