Southland’s Secret: The Catlins

The Catlins, Mother Nature rules! Fairy-tale waterfalls, lighthouses, penguins, a Jurassic petrified forest. Oh, the hits just keep on coming! Word of mouth sends us through the Catlins on the Southern Scenic Route. Rarely visited, so beautiful, with every few miles a scenic side trip, a walkway or track.

1) Slope Point – Closer to the South Pole than to the Equator

This is the most southerly point on the South Island. Should you slip off the cliffs…well, that’s it for you. The winds are cold, violent and smash the cliffs. Windswept waves rip into the South Pacific Ocean. One gust and off to Antarctica you go. This was a “breezy” summer day.

2) Peaceful Waterfalls and Magical Trees

Purakaunui Falls – NZ’s most photographed falls 

McLean Falls – The Catlins highest falls

Matai Falls and a forest walk

3) Jurassic Forest – 180 Million Years Old

This is Curio Bay/Tomu Toka – (Maori translation – hardened wood) – one of three accessible fossil forests on the planet. At low tide, walk through massive seaweed and petrified tree logs, stumps and tree rings. The forests that covered this area were destroyed by massive sheet floods of volcanic debris, only to grow back and be covered again.

4) Lighthouses at Waipapa and Nugget Points

Waipapa Point, on the western end of Southland Scenic Route. Beautifully quiet and poignant, the lighthouse was built in 1881 after NZ’s worst civilian shipwreck, where 131 of 151 people died.

Nugget Point/Tokata at the eastern end. The trek to the lighthouse and view speaks for itself with massive nugget rock formations.

Nearby is a penguin blind, and with field glasses, we watched our first yellow-eyed penguin waddle on shore. The picture is poor – but proof!

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8 thoughts on “Southland’s Secret: The Catlins

  1. Angela Carter May 8, 2020 — 6:45 am

    The waterfall is breathtaking

  2. Yep – that’s exactly how I remembered it. Beautiful photos (again)!

  3. Those waterfalls! New Zealand surely has a corner on beauty. Thanks for another beautiful post xo

  4. WOW! Just amazing.

  5. Beautiful…great adventure!👍

  6. New Zealand outshines Norway. Beautiful. Did you do any walks where you had to sanitize your footwear before entering the path?

    1. We never had to sanitize shoes, just had to use boot brushes to knock off seeds before we entered a couple of islands.

  7. Beautiful!

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