This was the last day of summer, and we were leaving to get to the Catlins. This is a part of the country that is less explored by tourists, but great for seeing wildlife, vast scenery, and great beaches. Not long into or drive we pulled over to a viewpoint over the Redcliff Wetland reserve and the view was beautiful (I've used that word a lot but it's so true! it) especially with the low clouds and sunshine shining down.
Monkey Island beach
We drove to Bluff, which is the end (or start, depending on how you look at it) of the SH1, the highway that goes he length of New Zealand. The public toilets at Stirling point spoke to us and even played us jazzy music!
Our final stop was at Waipapa Point, where there is a lighthouse and also a beach where sea lions are often seen. We walked up to the lighthouse which gave quite a good photo, and then walked to the beach where yes, there were two sea lions! It was absolutely amazing walking onto the beach and seeing them there, so close to us.
Walking back to the car I took a photo of the tree, which show how strong the wind can be in the Catlins.
We got to our holiday park site, where we had a cute cabin which even had electric blankets! I dumped my stuff for my final stop of the day; the cathedral caves. These are another of the most popular places to visit in the Catlins and can only be accessed 2 hours before and one hour after low tide, which was at 5:15 today. I got the the car park just 20 minutes after the gates opened and there was already a queue to get in. After a speedy 20 minute walk down hill I got to the beach, which in itself is very beautiful. The caves were amazing and you could walk through one entrance and get to the other. It was super busy though.
On the walk back up I took lots of photo breaks and it was a lovely walk through bush.
It's officially autumn here in New Zealand and our first full day in the Catlins. Again it drizzled as we set off but by the time we were 15 mins away the sun was out, so we quickly grabbed a photo at the Florence Hill lookout, where we could also see the beach we would move on to later.
Our first proper stop of the day was Surat bay, another place that sea lions sometimes hand out. It was a very pretty beach and we got to see two sea lions chilling in the sand. One even waved to us! It was good we left when we did though as the tide was coming in and we would have had to wait or walk far too close to the sea lions to get back out.
Next up was the Purakaunui waterfall. It was a quick and easy walk in to view the falls, which were pretty but not too strong.
Another waterfall was up next, well, it was actually two. Matai falls and Horseshoe falls are only two minutes apart, and pretty again, even if there were two American girls who sat in the way whilst I was trying to take photos!
Papatowai: Tahakopa river estuary and beach.
We finally made it to the beach we had seen from the Florence Hill lookout. Tautuku Bay was absolutely gorgeous, and a long stretch of golden sand. It was lovely to walk along it, although we didn't walk too far as the wind was blowing us in the other direction!
The final place we headed to was back the way we had been the previous day, Curio Bay. There are two walks that we wanted to take; one going up the hill to lookout at the sea and the other to the beach. I saw a dolphin jumping in the waves by the beach so our decision was easily made! Hector dolphins are often seen along Curio bay and Porpoise bay and sometimes even swim up to and with people in the water. There were two people in the sea when we walked along the beach, and it was so exciting trying to spot the dolphins. Unfortunately you only get a peak at them from my photo.
The walk up the headland showed us the strength of the wind and sea, as we saw waves crashing against the cliffs and some pretty spectacular crashes.
Today we headed away from the Catlins. Our first stop was for coffee and breakfast for Laura, which she got at a cute trailer in Owaka. Next we headed to Cannibal Bay. After a roughly 20minute drive across a gravel road we reached the beach. I'll admit I was dubious about whether it was worth it, but when we got on the beach we saw 11 sea lions. Most of them were just chilling out, but there was one in the sea. He would move a few meters and then flop on the beach, as if it was lots of effort, before going up a bit further up and repeating the action.
Next we drove up to Nugget point, another of the most visited parts of the Catlins. There is a lighthouse at the end overlooking the 'nuggets'.
My favourite part though was seeing (and first hearing) the seals down on the rocky bays down below. It was incredible to see them, and so many too. I wish I had a better camera to take photos, but you'll just have to believe me!
Both of us were pretty tired by this point, so we took some photos just after kaka point of the beautiful and vast beach, and made our way to Lawrence, where we are staying the next two days as our base for visiting Dunedin (The Eagles are there tomorrow so everything was booked out when we looked!).