The end of the road south – The Catlins

We had a ‘bit’ of a break from the whole hiking and biking thing in Dunedin where we stayed with Ruth’s old nursing and flat mate, Stephanie, and her husband Peter. Ruth got the opportunity to relive old times while I enjoyed talking to Peter about the future while reviewing his extensive and impressive sculpture pieces which he has carefully documented over his long career.

We did not need reminding that we were closer to the South Pole than the equator.  The most southerly point on The South Island

Four short nights later, we were back on the road and after 3,00km we are into our final leg of the car generally pointing in a southerly direction.

The beaches are actually very beautiful down here, deserted and wind swept
The shells and wind at Porpoise Bay combined to create masses of these amazing sculptures. The natural beach art was stunning.

The weather has been much cooler but not too wet. Most days have been mid-teens temperature wise with the occasional foray (usually only one day) into the late twenties or even 30s. Yesterday was 27c with a 60km wind; shorts and t-shirts weather. Today is 12c; long johns, woolly hats and dreams of summer.

We had read about the small pod of rare Hectors Dolphins which lived in Porpoise Bay but did not expect to see them let alone get a picture of them surfing. We saw them each time we walked the bay.
Not to be outdone, this seal was also surfing the waves, no doubt chasing fish like the dolphin. My timing was not so good with the seal.

It is remote down here in the area called ‘The Catlins‘. We have not phone coverage, no internet, no petrol, no ATMs, no EFTPOS, no shops, no Trump. But there are rare Hectors Dolphins which have been keeping us entertained, seals that photo bomb your Hectors Dolphin shots, penguins that keep you guessing as to when they will appear, beautiful beaches with suicidal surfers (you have to be on a death-wish to swim here), some amazing scenery and roads that lack vehicles. In balance, it is not too bad, a great place to visit (but not live).

The local restaurant, the cod and chips was pretty good

This morning we headed out to the most southerly land point in the South Island, Slope Point. Just like Cape Reinga in the North, Bluff is not the most southerly point. However, Slope Point is well off the beaten track, very weather beaten, most of the trees are almost horizontal to the ground. When you finally claw your way across the farm (the wind does not want you to reach your destination) to the actual point, there is a sign that simply tells you what you are only too well aware of; that you are closer to the South Pole than the Equator

The penguin landing spot
They spent a long time preening themselves before heading on up to feed the chicks that were well hidden in the shrubbery.

We have been staying in one of the population centres down here, Waikawa. I estimate the population at around 10 or so hardy souls. But despite that, they have a great fish and chip caravan, a museum and, a few kilometers down the road a very nice restaurant. Not sure if we will get a chance to try it but I may persuade Ruth to shout me a flat white there tomorrow, I am suffering withdrawal from my daily fix.

In addition to the Yellow Eyed Penguins, Curio Bay also had a 180million year old petrified forest. Kauri and Norfolk pine are well preserved albeit in rock like form. This alludes to a time when it was obviously much warmer in the parts.

We decided to brave the bone chilling cold and head out to Curio Bay after dinner and see if we could catch any rare Yellow Eyed Penguins returning from a day’s fishing. To say it was bitterly cold was being generous. Honestly, these penguins need to see a shrink or get a humongous mortgage and move to Auckland . Apart from the cold, their commute requires the negotiation of some seriously inhospitable terrain. THe wait in the cold was worth it and we did get to see and appreciate the natural challenges facing these brave birds, not to mention the man made ones that is steadily wiping them out.

It is hailing very heavily outside at present. We are pleased that we chose to visit in summer.

The bush walk to the very pretty Mcleans Falls was quite different from what we have experienced so far.


  1. What a bad break with the weather you are having! We were in Invercargill a few years ago at about this same time of year and it was quite pleasant. Brrr- I can just feel how cold it is looking at Ruth bundled up! Hope it turns around.


    1. In Stewart Island now,have had a couple of dry but cold days but looks as though our next two days are going to be washed out. We are still managing to get most of the the things done that we hoped but have to say we longingly at the dry, hot weather they are enjoying back in Kerikeri.

      Liked by 1 person

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