Km 14, 955 took us to the Catlins, probably the most unmentioned area of New Zealand. It seems like when people talk about New Zealand and all the things to do and see here they completely miss over this southern part of the country, even though it’s an absolutely breathtaking region. No one told us to visit this area and there is no advertising for the area, but it’s 100% worth a visit. It’s full of waterfalls, marshland boardwalks, hikes, beaches, ocean blow holes, mountain views, lighthouses and rain forests. It has everything people could possibly be looking for.
Sadly we ventured into the Catlins in the spring, which means copious amounts of rain and in turn means hiking wasn’t really an option for us due to our unprepared nature. You see we made a vital mistake and didn’t bring enough waterproof gear to get us through some of the hikes here (our bad). It would be impossible to hike the trails here and be able to stay warm and dry without proper gear (looks like we are going to need to do a bit more research next time on what gear to bring).
Now whether or not we were able to go tramping (as the kiwi’s call it) we were still mind blown that over ever hill was a spectacular horizon that shone like gold when the sun touched it. Honestly we were lucky we didn’t crash the van, we were pretty damn mesmerized by our surroundings.
The spring rain does have one huge benefit though it turns the waterfalls from calm and gentle to raging and magnificent. We managed to see four falls in one day, Purakaunui, Matai, Horseshoe and McLean falls. The walks to them are all so short it gave us plenty of time to find the next one. To our surprise each one offered us something different.
We were true waterfall hunters seeking the next flowing stream to lay our eyes upon.
We were able to scale up some of the rocks of McLean falls to get even closer to the raging water. We stood in awe of the sheer power of the water as it allowed gravity to take over. The water sprayed up from the pool beaneath the falls soaking our jackets and pants. Being so close to something so magnificant and powerful was almost humbling. Even though we had to dry out our now very wet clothes.
We walked along the Tautuku Estuary Boardwalk, which is a great small boardwalk through a forest that opens up into a marshland. This area was once a settlers village but has long been abandoned and nothing remains but informative signs.
There is also a spot at the trail head of the boardwalk where you are permitted to freedom camp, it is tucked up on a small hill surrounded by tree, although free we both agreed that it would have been a pretty creepy sleep because of the eerie noises of the swaying trees.
The lighthouse to beat all lighthouses in New Zealand, Nugget Point. There are so many photographs of this lighthouse that it would almost be a crime to drive by it and not get one ourselves. Now is there anything spectacular and different about this lighthouse? No. Not the lighthouse itself, it’s a pretty standard NZ lighthouse. What lies beyond the lighthouse is where the real action is.
Large rocks jet out from the ocean and look almost like chicken nuggets emerging from the sea (hence the name nugget point). These interesting pieces of earth are what make this lighthouse worth a vist. Sure the pathway to the lighthouse makes a great picture, but the nuggets at the end make it a great destination.
Lets end with Jack’s Blow Hole. Pretty simple, it blows (and we mean in the sarcastic sense). We were expecting to arrive and have ocean water jetting out of the earth hundreds of feet in the air, instead we got a 300 foot hole in the ground with water violently splashing around. Don’t get us wrong it’s still pretty cool and we certainly wouldn’t want to fall in but it’s no blow hole. The best part of venturing out to this thing is the walk. It offers great views of the farmlands and the coast line of the Catlins. Otherwise this blow hole would have been a complete bust.
Mental note: Don’t wear simple running shoes on this trail in the spring. I forgot about the whole rain equals mud thing and needless to say my shoes went from Tiffany blue to some sort of Tiffany brown. And my socks…they unfortunately won’t be making the rest of the trip with us, RIP white socks.