Escaping to The Catlins

The Catlins are a little off the beaten track, situated on the windswept south eastern tip of New Zealand’s South Island. We were drawn to the region by a picture we saw of the Nugget Point Lighthouse and it didn’t disappoint.

Accommodation is pretty basic in the area, we stayed at a dinky place called the Nugget View Kaka Point Motel, with a balcony looking out at the sea and Nugget Point itself – our post-dinner destination.

Dinner at the Nugget Point Tavern was a mixed affair – my marinated prawns were delicious, but David ordered a fairly dodgy beef schnitzel with peppercorn sauce.

Nugget Point itself was sublime – it’s the site of a lighthouse that looks out on the swirling turquoise sea, which is dotted with rocky outcrops populated by lazing seals.

The wind had dropped when we arrived, the sun was shining and it felt glorious to be alive as we gazed at the stunning view.

On the way back we stopped at a penguin hide to watch a lone and highly endangered yellow-eyed penguin preen itself on the shore.

The next morning we drove to the glorious Purakanui Falls, which star on the cover of many NZ guidebooks.

It was a very special spot and DJ was delirious with excitement as he experimented with capturing the cascading beauty on his camera.

Next we drove to the Cathedral Caves, which are on a beach just off the Chasland Highway. We arrived for low tide, the only time of day they’re accessible. The water was still knee deep in parts, so I borrowed a pair of DJ’s boardies.

The ocean was so icy cold that my legs ached, but it was worth it for the adventure – we waded in one entrance and wandered out the next as the waves gently crashed around us.

Then it was time to grab our bargain meal of the trip, a $6.90 hamburger and chips at a little country town before heading to our next night’s accommodation in Te Anau.

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