Farewell Dunedin.......Catlins here we come

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November 5th 2016
Published: November 5th 2016
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Saturday (29/10) and its time to start heading South. First stop Taieri Mouth, the weather is a little cold and showery but nothing a brisk walk followed by a hot cuppa won’t fix. A few people trying their luck fishing here today, I think they might have to swing by the fish & chip shop on their way home though😊. Further South is the little settlement of Toko Mouth and our stop for the night. The camping spot is under water so we park on the edge of the puddles (It’s a bit like having a lakefront property). The little cribs a rather cute with one having its own outdoor bath on the edge of the river. This is another pretty dangerous beach and swimming is not recommended.

Sunday we follow the Coast road down to Wangaloa. Now this is a lovely spot with a nice sandy beach. You can camp here at the Domain but you do need to be self-contained. As we head back inland and alongside the Clutha river there are plenty of little Whitebaiter shacks to admire. There is the “she”ll be right mate” shacks and then the more upmarket ones😊. Through the little settlement of Sterling to Balclutha only to discover our Motorhome won’t fit under the bridge!! (Lances personal Sat Nav doesn’t read signs). A bit of back tracking back to the main road and we make it to Balclutha for a fuel stop. Back out to the coast and out to the beautiful Kaka Pt. A great place for a lunch stop and to admire the views. From here we follow the Nugget Pt Rd around the coastline and onto the panoramic Roaring Bay and Nugget Pt. This is a must do…….. the views from the lighthouse are spectacular. Our last visit here in 2009 the sky was grey and the sea was ferocious, today we were treated with just as spectacular views with the sun shining and the sea relatively calm. Spot the Seals down in the bays below and Spoonbill birds perched in the rocky outcrops. Just down from the lighthouse is Roaring Bay (when the sea conditions are right this bay literally roars with noise). Roaring bay houses a penguin viewing hide for when the penguins march up the beach at dusk. So if you feel the need hang around you may get lucky at spotting a few. Tonight we have a top spot to stay on a Farm on the Nugget Pt Coast road (Nuggetburn NZMCA POP). Friendly farming hosts, beautiful beach in front with views around the coast to Nugget Point. A walk early this evening up the beach and we stumble across a rather large Sea Lion, it really just finishes and awesome day of sightseeing off.

Monday (31/10) the sun is shining and we feel like stretching the legs. So we decide to walk along the beach, around the coast and up to Nugget Pt lighthouse. The tide is out so we get beach access all the way around until the climb up to Nugget Pt. Another large Sea Lion has left impressive footprints up the beach to where he has plonked himself for a day of rest. People stop to see if we want a lift as we make our way up the hill to the lighthouse. What a friendly lot around here (or perhaps I looked like I needed a lift). More photo shots from the Pt and it’s time to head back passing the Sea Lion who has now completely covered himself in sand. Feeling good after a 4 hour walk in the sunJ. Packed up and we are off again with the first stop Tunnel Hill (Don’t blink you may miss it). This is a railway tunnel that was built with pick and shovel in 1895. Situated just off the main road and is only 276 metres long. This was obviously a good place for Lance to freak me out. Lance thought the acoustics where pretty cool. It’s his fault if I don’t sleep the night! Take a torch and gag the spookers in your family😊. A quick visit to the beautiful Pounawea , here there is a good camp that sits on the edge of the Catlins River, we stayed here back in 2009 but today we decide to mix it up and head over the bridge to Newhaven Motor Camp instead. This is a fairly expensive Motor Camp but it is right on the doorstep to Surat Bay and Cannibal Bay. After getting the lowdown on walking to Surat and Cannibal Bay we opt to get our walking shoes on and make the most of both the fine weather and low tide. Heading around the Owaka River to Surat beach we are blasted with sand and strong winds as we make our way North up the beach. (Yes we are the only mad ones out here doing this late in the afternoon!). At the end of this expansive rugged but very beautiful beach we then head over a low ridge to False Inlet and Cannibal Bay. A Sea Lionl is blocking the path at the end so a bit of cross country is required to avoid any disruption. We stand on a sand dune and just admire the beautiful Cannibal Bay. Down the beach two Sea Lions are courting. I zoomed in and have posted a photo of them. Lance wouldn’t let me post one of the photos he thought it was X-rated. (and he is a Farmer’s son!). It’s time to head back with the wind behind us to push us along. Now it’s Beer o’clock and we are sitting outside in the fading sun with a camp spot right on the water’s edge😊.

Tuesday (1/11) morning and the sun is shining the birds are playing in the river, I have a cuppa tea and camera in my hand, Lance is still in bed but it’s time to kick him out and head to one of my favourite spots……….Jack’s Bay and the famous Jack’s Blowhole. The squally rain rolls in as we arrive in the Bay but we do manage a late afternoon walk up the track to Jack’s Blowhole. Over 200 metres from the sea, the hole is 55 metres deep and at high tide and a good stormy sea it booms. Unfortunately the sea is relatively flat today and the blowhole is very quiet at high tide. No loud gushing of water through the gap from the lookout today. Oh well you win some you lose some. People complain about the walk from the bay up to the blowhole. Yes it is step in places, take your time the track is much better formed than it was back in 2009. Parked up in the bay for the night waiting for penguins to march up the beach………not tonight, maybe it’s too wet! It’s Wednesday morning and we wake to sunshine……yippee. At low tide we walk up the beach to the rocks at the North end of the bay. These are amazing it’s like a roadway along a cliff face and looking back you get beautiful views down across the Bay. Back down the beach and it was time to explore the rocks at the South end of the bay. The rock structure is completely different at this end. Plenty of rock jumping and exploring we head around the point as far as possible. The brown seaweed on the rocks is lethal so care is needed. We spot the odd small paua but nothing legal. It’s been a good morning mooching around rocks, would be nice if it was a bit warmer then you might be inclined to get wet😊. Time to say farewell to my special place and onto our first stop for the day Purakaunui Bay. We didn’t visit here back in 2009, we wish we did. What a gorgeous place, with a stunning beach, river and high cliffs. Today a nude and very brave swimmer was having a wee dip😊. You can stay at the DOC Camp here and we definitely would but unfortunately today we need mobile coverage. From here we visited Purakaunui Falls, followed by Matai & Horseshoe Falls. All worth a visit and only short walking tracks into. Last stop for the day is Papatowai. Lunch down by the water and then a walk out on the beach. The tide is coming in so most of the rocks are covered this afternoon. For those that remember my Paua photo shot from 2009….this is the place I took it😊. We are now parked up at the local DOC camp and it’s time to sort through the last few days of photos! This is a nice sheltered DOC Camp if you are looking to escape the wind.

Leaving Papatowai on Thursday (3/11) we stop off at the Florence Hill Lookout. Great spot with some awesome views down to both Tautuku and Tahakopa Bay. Just below the lookout sits Rainbow Island and Spouting Cave. Today the sea conditions enable us to see the cave spouting. I can imagine in very rough seas this would be quite spectacular. Further down the road is Lake Wilkie also known as Bog Lake. The short walk through the trees is quite pretty but don’t expect much when you get there. Great for that Mirror Reflection shot you maybe looking for. From here I made Lance stop at the Traill Tractor and Cooks Sawmill Historic site. Don’t bother the old Sawmill is a bunch of signs saying where everything use to be. The restored Fordson Tractor maybe of interest however and this is a Bird Protection Society site with the odd Bellbird and Tomtit hanging around. Its nearing low tide so it’s time to visit Cathedral Caves. This walk is tide dependant and the caves are only accessible for 1 ½ hours either side of low tide. There is a small entrance fee of $5 per person at the gate so don’t be a tight ass this is well worth it😊. From the carpark you walk steadily down (yes you have to walk back up) to the beautiful Waipati beach and along the beach to the Caves. There are 2 entrances and when we arrive we can only enter through the West entrance due to wave surges blocking the East entrance. These are totally amazing. The total cave passage length is 199 metres and is currently one of the 30 longest known sea caves in the world. Just do it I say😊. Next stop is Mclean falls and in my opinion the best of the falls in this region. These falls are the tallest in the Catlins at 20 metres high, cascading over the rock face and down to smaller falls below. The track up to the falls is rather beautiful with trees and moss covered rocks. Our last destination today is Curio Bay. The wind is now howling and the skies have opened up. We walk around between the downpours and opt to stay the night at the very basic campsite on the point. This place is an absolute gem with the wildlife (Yellow eyed Penguins, Hectors Dolphins, Seals), Petrified Forrest and stunning beach. Standing on the cliff last night I turned around and there was a penguin standing there stretching, obviously having a break from laying on the nest, it was pretty awesome. Friday morning we walked the beach watching a guy on a surfboard in the bay just hanging with the Hectors Dolphins. The Petrified forest is the fossiled stumps and trunks of trees that you can see in the rocky shelf that is Curio Bay. This preserved forrest is best seen at low tide. It’s quite amazing that these stumps and trunks are up to 160 millions years old. A shame people have been extracting some of this history for their only benefit. Thankfully this is now a Scientific Protected Site and you are not allowed to remove anything.

Friday (5/11) and we bid farewell to this unique place and head to Slope Point the Southernmost point of NZ. This is a milestone in our journey as we have been to both the Northernmost and now the Southernmost Pt of NZ (With Stewart Island still to come). This is where you get the photo standing in front of the sign, bent over windswept trees, and a sense that you have been blown inside out with the cold fierce wind😊. As we leave Slope Pt we head to Haldane Estuary and walk over the wet mud flats and around the estuary to the river mouth. From here we get a view across to Haldane Bay. It looks like a nice isolated beach which I don’t think you can access unless you swim across river. It’s time for lunch so Waipapa Pt here we come. Here sits the Waipapa Lighthouse. In 2009 we visited here on a wild windy day to only find the lighthouse was in the middle of a major renovation. Today the sun was shining and the wind was blowing as expected. The lighthouse was built in 1881 and along with the Kaipara North Head Lighthouse in Northland was the last wooden lighthouse to be erected in NZ. The lighthouse was built in response to New Zealand’s worst civilian Shipping disaster which actually happened right here. The ship Tararua hit the Otara Reef just to the North of Waipapa Pt with 131 lives lost. Most of those who perished are buried at Tararua Acre (just to the east of the point). Our final stop for the night is Fortrose, parked up on the waters edge looking forward to dinner and a cuppa tea😊.

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