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Published: August 23rd 2016
The Catlin coast scenic route from Invercargill to Owaka, and through to Dunedin was the plan for today's drive. The normal main highway goes from Invercargill inland to Gore, then onto Balclutha through farmland and nothing much else.
But the scenic coastal route all but sealed but for 15 km, takes you to some mighty wonderful sights along the way. First stop was the Waipapa lighthouse, the beach, Hooker sea lions and site of the SS Tararua ship wreck.All lighthouses in NZ are now automated, but this lonely windswept point was once home to a family of the lighthouse keeper. Hooker sea lions once hunted to almost oblivion can be easily sighted on the beach, looking like huge fat slugs, camouflaged to look like the rocks and surrounding kelp. The worst civilian ship wreck, the SS Tararua, occurred here with a total loss of 131 lives prompting the installation of the lighthouse. Further down the road is Slope Point which is the southernmost piece of land on the NZ South Island, now accessible only by a 20minute walk along the paddocks. Next stop was Curio Bay which is a massive petrified wood forest, easily seen and accessed at low tide. 170
million years ago this bay was formed, you can walk right out on top of it, easily seeing logs, tree trunks and stumps of tree trunks. You are asked to respect the magnificence of this place and NOT take any souvenir rocks. Florence Hill lookout gives you an elevated view of Tautuku Bay and beach, today we could see one lonely walker and a dog. There is a walk to see a blow hole, probably high tide would be best for this. There are numerous stops along the way to various waterfalls but the one we went to today was Purakanui falls, easily the most recognised waterfall in this area. Appearing on numerous calendars, scenic sites, and websites, if you want to see a waterfall this is THE one. Only a 4km dirt road off the main track, and a 10minute walk in. Owaka is the start or end of the Catlins, go towards Balclutha and turn off to Kaka Point and Nugget Point if you want to see more seals and rugged coastlines. You arrive in Balclutha at the south end of the main street, turn right and proceed down the Main Street and over the huge concrete arched
bridge which spans the mighty Clutha river and onwards to Dunedin. Dunedin was made a home by the Scots who settled this place in the 1840's, after the whalers had already tamed the land. The name Dunedin is gaelic for Edinburgh. Otago University, the first in NZ, dominates the city along with the iconic centre piece The Octagon ( pronounce it Octagin). Magnificent buildings and churches landscape this area, nearby is the most photographed building in NZ, the old Dunedin railway station, now a museum. Windy wet and cold today, as I remember it from past visits. We saw people cycling in shorts and shirts, brave hardy souls.
Tot: 1.285s; Tpl: 0.017s; cc: 12; qc: 32; dbt: 0.0089s; 1; m:saturn w:www (18.104.22.168); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.3mb