Farmland and Wild Coast
Trip Start Jul 31, 2005
209Trip End Sep 05, 2007
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We left Invercargill during the morning and drove through rolling farmland for about one hour before making our first stop. As we came into the Catlins there was a sign indicating that this was the start of the region and we soon turned off of the sealed road onto the first of many gravel roads we would drive on that day. First stop was Waipapa Point. This was the site of New Zealands worst maritime disaster, there is a lighthouse here and a small expanse of sand. Lying there on the sand when we visited was a sea lion, he was rolling around in the sand posing! There was another one climbing over the rocks and then swam out into the sea.
We continued on, dust flying up behind the car to Slope Point. This is the southernmost point on New Zealands south island, as we had been to the northernmost point we felt we had to make a stop here too! It's literally a yellow signpost marking the place, we parked the car and walked about 15 minutes across farmland to the signpost which reads the distance to both the equator and the south pole. It was interesting to find that we are way closer to the south pole than we are the equator!
After the obligatory photo's at Slope Point we continued on along the gravel road which hugged the coastline and fields of sheep and cows to our next port of call - Curio Bay.
We parked up high on a hill behind the camping ground and ate our lunch looking out across to the beautiful Porpoise Bay and then visted Curio Bay.
Curio Bay is the site of one of very few Petrified forests in the world, we already saw a petrified forest when we in Namibia, this was our second and was quite a different site as it was actually along the coast and not inland.
Driving further along the southern scenic route we came to a stunning lookout atop Florence hill, we looked down onto the huge sweep of sand called Tuatara Beach - this beach looked more like something we had seen in Australia - but here it was in New Zealand
We stopped and hiked up the steep walk to McLean falls which were very pretty the walkways were covered with ferns and huge native trees. The same with Purakauni Falls, but these waterfalls are tiered and so look quite different - however the walk was very much the same.
We were a few hours to early to see Cathedral Caves which are only viewable during low tide, and so we continued on to Cannibal Bay. This bay was sandy and beautiful, by this time it was early evening and so the wind had got up and the air was much cooler. We walked for a while on Cannibal Bay and watched a seal hobble along from the sands and eventually go into the sea. We drove back along the rough narrow road out onto the highway, soon turning off again for our second to last stop of the day.
Roaring Bay is on the way up to Nugget Point, it is home to the Yellow eyed penguin, known in Maori as Hoiho. We saw about six of them on the beach as we looked out from the hide which has been built into the cliff above. Some were walking along the beach, one just came in from the sea and others just stood there with their wings out drying off from the sea.
Nugget Point was freezing and very windy by the time we arrived, the view was gorgeous, though we never spotted anymore seals.
That night we decided that we would continue on into Dunedin the next morning, so we found ourselves a basic cabin on a motor camp in the town of Balclutha. Fish n Chips and some Dunedin brewed Speights later and we were tucked into bed asleep by 10pm!