" New Zealand Holiday ... 13 . . . The Catlin Coast "

Date & Time: Wednesday to Friday 16th -18th November 2011.

Locations : Travelling from Stewart Island east to the Catlins Coast.

Places visited : Invercargill, Niagara Falls, Slope Point, Waipapa Point, Owaka, Nugget Pt.

Accommodation : June and Murray Stratford, The Catlins Farmstay B&B near Niagara Falls.

With : Ann and myself.

Weather : A Southerly blow of the Roaring Forties. Rain turning to showers then clearing.

" New Zealand ~ 13 ~ The Catlin Coast " at EveryTrail

[ Alter the settings to zoom or change the Map, use Everytrail to download the Gps route ]


Island hopping again as we make our way back across Forveaux Straits to the mainland of South Island.

After our stay on New Zealand's third island, we turn the map round and start heading north again.

Checking the instrumentation as we fly over the Forveaux Straits . . . 1000ft and an airspeed of 130 knotts.

Bluff Head with the Catlin Coast (our objective) in the distance.
Our approach to Invercargill . . . now where did we leave the car ?

The farmstay web site and map indicated that our next overnight stay was not far from Niagara Falls.

Not this one unless we changed to a 747 and travelled half way round the world !

[ picture from our Canadian / Alaskan holiday in 2007 ]

New Zealand has its own Niagara Falls . . . and here it is . . . at the head of navigation of the mighty Waikawa River.

It must have been named by a map surveyor with extensive travel knowledge and a good sense of humour.

It was significant for the early settlers however, as it was here they were able to load their wool into small boats,

then travel downstream to the wharf at Waikawa and onward for export to the world markets.

The Catlins Farmstay B&B

We had a delightful garden room waiting for our arrival.

Our hosts . . . June and Murray

Our fellow guests . . . Fred, Wendy and their daughter Jenny.

It is not often I mention fellow guests, but on this occasion there was an amazing coincidence.

While we were all chatting over afternoon tea we mentioned that we had started our holiday on the North Island, staying with my cousins who had sailed over on a boat from the UK and settled at Whangarei. Their immediate response was " Not Marjorie and Colin ? We know them well and sailed the Pacific Islands with them all those years ago." It certainly was a small world.

Dinner companions were sorted then for our evening meal

at the old Waikawa School House now the Waikawa Niagara Falls Cafe/Restaurant

One of the attractions that June and Murray mentioned was to visit the coast and watch the penguins returning to their nests at dusk.

On the way a sudden burst of sunlight lit up a slightly damp sky . . . to give us the full arc of a rainbow.

The cloud had parted to allow a burst of evening sunshine to show through.

Curio Bay is famous for two things.

First is the petrified forest . . . the remains of 160 million year old fossilised trees and ferns can be found on the rocks . . .

. . . and the headland is home to a small colony of the rare Yellow Eyed Penguins.

They have built a viewing gallery and steps down onto the rocks.

In an attempt to be small on words and big on meaning, they put up a sign implying you shouldn't get closer than 10 metres to the penguins.

[ Reading left to right . . . it could be construed that the penguins should park at least two car lengths away from nude ladies . . . perhaps ? ]

The penguins were due back from sea at dusk . . . not long to wait.

Time to enjoy the sunset . . . provided you were well wrapped against the strong breeze.

Lovely colours . . . but no penguins !

The dying rays of the sun . . . over Curio Bay Headland.

On cue . . . spot the penguin . . . centre picture showing a white chest.

He or she was joined by at least one other before the light finally went and we could see no more.

- - - o o o - - -

The cloud and rain shower of yesterday was the prelude to a damp morning in the Catlins.

Picture of . . . a damp morning in the Catlins !

This was the local museum which was stacked full of local information and artifacts from the early industries of farming, timber and mining. What was really delightful was the photographs and detail of all the people that lived and worked in the area, what they did, who went to war, who didn't return and all obviously gathered and displayed by a band of local enthusiasts who help at the museum.

Unfortunately thye prefer not to have indoor photography so a damp picture of an old logging engine is all that was available.

At the back of the picture, across the quiet main road, was the old church.

In between showers we had a quick look inside.

The former St Mary's Anglican Church was built in 1930 but closed in 1994.

However it is still available for hire for weddings or exhibitions if you want.

We had driven east on the inland, tarmaced main road yesterday to get to Niagara,

so today we planned to drive back around the coast road to see the sights there . . . first stop Curio Bay again. . . this time in the daylight.

The signs suggest a major motorway, the road surface suggests a minor back road.

The surface of the coast road was like many of the main roads were ten or fifteen years ago apparently.

This was the largest amount of gravel road we drove all holiday . . . low speed to avoid flicking gravel . . . and sliding off at the corners.

Second stop was Slope Point, presumably called that because of the very rounded and pronounced slope as the headland meets the sea.

This is the most southerly point of New Zealand's South Island, some 5 km further south than Bluff Head.

Two funny pictures of your team at the signboard . . .
. . . what you can't see is the extremely strong wind !

For you enthusiasts and collectors out there . . .

the bilingual identification sign for the trig point

in English and Maori.

The next headland was Waipapa Point.

The light was first built in 1884 following a major shipwreck of the S.S. Tararua on the reef next to the headland in 1881.

This was their worst civilian shipwreck and involved the loss of 131 lives during the big storm.

Only 20 of the 151 on board made it safely ashore.

The site of the old Lighthouse Keeper's residence, now cleared, as the light is fully automated and there is no-one in residence any more.

As at Slope Point, the effect of the strong, prevailing, roaring forties winds were evident in the shape of the trees.

- - - o o o - - -

We rounded the afternoon off with a drive in search of a magical garden we had hear of from our fellow 'homestay' guests.

Maple Glen is a 25 acre private garden and plant nursery.

It was developed from open grassland by the owner and her family over the last forty years.

Open every day, entry by voluntary donation to this wonderful garden.

On arrival we were met by Muriel, the owner, and despite the rain she chose to show us around . . . and extra treat it seems.

The gardens are now financed by the plant nursery business but was originally they were just a "labour of love".

Gum Trees from Australia . . .
. . . and Redwoods from America.

All the landscaping, flower beds and pools were built from scratch.

Amazing to think that this was all achieved by just the family members

There's always something in bloom . . . for us . . . the rhododendrons and flowering shrubs.

Our walk round brought us back to the house and nursery area . . .

A wonderful blue poppy awaits a good home . . . but there was one more surprise in store.

Muriel was also a wildlife and bird fan and the family have a real way with these creatures.

All the birds, it seemed, were able to fly free or walk about as they pleased.

Cockatoos . . .
. . . and budgerigars

" Who's a pretty boy then ?"

The family were also the local haven for injured animals and had rescued many birds in their time.

The relationship they developed with the birds was evident in the tame nature of these wild creatures.

Muriel's son was feeding a thrush that has adopted them after being rescued.

I had a go with the same bird food but the thrush, seen sitting on the green pots, was a little afraid of a new face.

We said our goodbye's to Muriel and her wonderful Maple Glen in the shop area, if you could call it that.

On the display were her favourite photos of the gardens and pictures of the many flowers she had on sale.

Fish and chips tonight from the shop in Tokanui that we passed along the way

and back now for a glass of wine and a long chat with June and Murray and our fellow guests.

Their homestay was a real 'home' and we were made really welcome.

They own a 1000 acre farm and farm 150 head of beef cattle, 500 deer

and 2800 sheep with the aid of their 3 sheep dogs.

- - - o o o - - -

Next morning it was time to leave

so we packed our bags and said our goodbyes.

Our destination tonight was Dunedin on the Otago Peninsular

but before then there was time to explore what the

north Catlin region had to offer.


First stop . . . the Mclean Falls

The sign suggested a forty minute return walk.

This was another typically well maintained DOC path through the woods

though we understand that there had been a lot of local school and parent involvement in creating this path.

As we walked up the river valley the gorge became narrower and the river more impressive

but we had no idea of where the final destination was or what it would look like.

Ann taking a photo of the falls from the viewing balcony . . . but the path goes on !

A huge cloud of spray ahead . . .
. . . and a long cascade of white water.
. . . culminating in the impressive McLean Falls.
No wonder the vegetation is so profuse.

A study in ferns.

A few miles further on and another visitor attraction.

A quick ten minute stroll this time to see the lake.


The signs were useful in that they gave an indication of time

and apart from one a few days ago,

they were all reasonably accurate too.

Lake Wilke . . . a lake in the sand dunes rather than in a glacial valley.

Zooming in on two wildfowl that were swimming on the lake.

These were Paradise Shell Ducks . . . New Zealand' only shell ducks, size akin to that of geese.

Unusually the female of the species was more brightly coloured compared to her mate on the left.

Rhossili Bay, Gower, South Wales, UK.

Tautuka Bay . . . a wonderful stretch of coastal scenery.

This area of New Zealand is very much like the coastal areas of South Wales where we used to live . . . apart from the trees which were different.

[ Hold your cursor over the picture to see what we mean ]

Do it again and see the next wave comes in !

There was even a classic sea cave blow hole . . . working well in the rough seas today.

[ Can't see it . . . hold your cursor over the picture again ]

Wild coastal scenery at Purakaunui Bay on this windy day.

One more waterfall before lunch perhaps ?


This offered a ten minute walk but this time downhill to the falls.

No photo in the limited brochure we had so again,

it could be a very pleasant surprise.


The classic DOC path to the falls . . .
. . . and what has become classic vegetation.

Down some steep-cut steps and we have our first view of Purakaunui Falls.

What a lovely cascade again . . . each step was eight to ten feet tall.

- - - o o o - - -

Our lunch stop was at Owaka . . . not at this cafe . . . but I loved the wooden carvings of the birds.

There's a guy back in our local market that sells something similar . . . and not unlike the Derwent Bay Bears carvings.

The view of Okawa from our cafe on the square . . . just to give you some idea of the local down-town scenery.

Before we hit the main road and the last drive to the big city

we stopped off at Nugget Point where there is a dramatic lighthouse built out on the headland.

The Lighthouse track contours around the very steep side of the hill.

Ann was looking down at the sea below, searching perhaps for some seals or the like.

Stone plaques about the modern light . . .
. . . and about the heritage importance to the Maori

There were a series of these plaques all along the path to the lighthouse.

The path leads up to the light, built in 1869.
It protects shipping from the dangerous reef and headland.

For some lovely old pictures and information click here

We enjoyed a few moments on the observation platform . . . feeling the full force of the 'roaring forties' winds again.


Looking down on the local seabirds, the gulls and the cormorants.

Beautiful rock scenery below.

. . . and a final look back at Nugget Point as we leave.

From here we have an hour or two's drive to Dunedin where we plan to explore the wildlife and scenery of the Otago Peninsular tomorrow.

- - - o o o - - -

Technical note: Pictures taken with either Ann's Fuji Finepix T300, my Canon G10 or 1100D digital cameras.

Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.

This site best viewed with . . . . a good sense of balance in these strong coastal winds.

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