The Catlins lie along the south-east corner of New Zealand, and are often touted as some of the most rugged, remote and peaceful places in the country. I had the unfortunate timing of choosing to visit during a long weekend in February, so while it was rugged and remote, peaceful and untraveled wilderness remained a myth to me in this area of the country. I’d spend 3 days travelling from Dunedin, through the Catlins, to Invercargill.
The first stop was the oddly named ‘Nugget Point’. A stellar spot of coastal scenery.
It was also another spot for a lighthouse. I’m collecting quite a few of these by now!
And just the Nuggets themselves, a good clustering of rocks jutting up from the sea just beyond the point of the lighthouse.
From there it was a short drive back to Roaring Bay, where Yellow Eyed Penguins come ashore. Before I could get pictures of a few penguins, some tourists decided to wander onto the beach, despite the numerous signs telling them to stay off. The people on the beach scared the penguins back into the water, much to the consternation of those watching.
Then it was off to Purakaunui Beach, a stellar camping spot along the coast.
The tide was way out, so you felt like you could walk for miles along the flat sandy beach.
After one of the worst sleeps I’ve had in recent memories (the problem with remote campgrounds sometimes is moronic teenagers use them to party), I headed to the Purakaunui Falls, one of the most photographed falls in New Zealand. It’s featured on many a calendar, and quite something to see.
Nearby was also a hike to Jack’s Blowhole. Which, in pictures, isn’t overly special to look at.
But when there, in person, and knowing this information, you get a better appreciation that it is a pretty unique spot. The picture above doesn’t even capture it fully, the chasm feels IMMENSE, and watching waves roar in through there is pretty cool.
The surrounding scenery was always enjoyable in the Catlins.
The Matai Falls, another good sized falls.
And just behind Matai were the Horseshoe Falls.
From the top of Florence Hill you get a great view of Tautuku Beach and its golden sand.
And just behind the beach lies Lake Wilkie, a neat little lake to walk around.
Neat, because there is learning to be done here!
It’s also quite pretty, and one of the few hikes I did that wasn’t swarming with people.
From Lake Wilkie it was a short drive and then another hike out to the Tautuku Estuary, where some rare birds live apparently. I didn’t see birds, but it was nice marshland.
And then the final stop for the first part, the highest waterfalls in the Catlins, the impressive McLaren Falls. At 55m from top to bottom, including multiple levels, it’s a great spot.
Just hard to get without people in the view (one couple stood in everyone’s view, as pictured above, for a good 5 minutes).
And that was just 1/2 of the Catlins! My favourite spots were yet to come…