Where We Be
The Catlins are a true off-the-beaten-path treasure, a
mix of emerald-green hillsides and windswept
coastlines. Here are thee of our favorite memories:
At Surat Bay, we went on a two-hour hike near sunset.
We walked in tevas (and sometimes barefoot) on the
hard-packed sand at the edge of the ocean, dipping
our toes in the water as the shallow waves rolled in.
The sun was low in the sky and the weather was
dramatic, with an ever-changing mix of clouds and
sun. Spray wafted off the ocean, catching the sun's
rays and making for some striking scenery. We
passed eight individual sea lions on the beach, each
lounging on its own with utter disregard for us
humans as we passed by. On the walk back, sunshine
percolating through dark clouds created some
beautiful lighting effects as it reflected in the shallow
pan of water spread over the sand. This is the longest
beach walk we’ve ever done, and we loved it.
We stayed at two fantastic backpackers called Falls
Backpackers and Hilltop Backpackers. Falls was a
snug farmhouse on a remote hill. What made it special
was the cozy atmosphere conducive to making new
friends. At the elegant Hilltop, which occupies a
commanding location with views of green hills and
coastline, we lucked out and had the entire house to
ourselves. This was a real treat. We took a whole day
off from sightseeing and spent it lazing around the
house enjoying the views.
At Porpoise Bay we saw Hector’s dolphins frolicking
in the water just off the coast. These are the smallest
dolphins in the world, and among the rarest, and
watching them jump out of the water and even surf
the waves was a sight to behold. We saw the dolphins
coming right up to several people standing in the bay.
“We have to do that!” I said to Robin. We put on our
swimsuits and headed for the water. We waded out
hip-deep in cold water and, lo and behold, within the
first five minutes we had three Hector’s dolphins
swimming around us. Two swam right between us,
just a foot away and right near the surface. Wow!
Another dolphin swam right at Robin, then turned on
its side so its eye was looking right up at her.
|As far south as you can go on New Zealand's South Island!
|Classic Catlins scenery, mixing green pastureland and rugged coastline
|I imagine only New Zealand and Ireland have pastures this emerald green
|Sunset walk on Surat Bay in dramatic weather. Fantastic!
|Standing in front of a 1,000 year old totara tree
|At the entrance to Cathedral Caves
|Sinfully good Hell Pizza in Invercargill
|Lower McLean Falls, a small slice of paradise
|This looks more like a modernist sculpture than a tree
|Round colorful rocks from Riverton Rocks beach
|Our lovely view on a dramatic morning at Falls Backpackers
|Picturesque Purakaunui Falls, just a mile from Falls Backpackers
|Endless waves roll in at unspoiled Tautuku Bay
|The Nugget Point Lighthouse is the southernmost in the world
|Grassy coastal dunes invite you to sit and unwind for awhile
|Dappled forests like these are such a pleasure to walk through
|Only in New Zealand would you find potato chips flavored with lamb and mint!
|This tuatara is over 100 years old! Tuatara are survivors of the dinosaur age.
|We spent a lot of time looking out at this lovely view from Hilltop Backpackers
|Not many backpackers offer claw-footed tubs!
|We had the entire house to ourselves at Hilltop Backpackers. Luxury!