Arriving at the Catlins, we based ourselves at the Whistling Frog Lodge, a sprawling eco-resort located deep in the heart of the Catlins National Park. The next morning, we took full advantage of the clear morning skies to venture out. Our first stop was a 20 minute each way walk through pristine forests down to the Iconic Purakaunui Falls. Featuring on literally every New Zealand calender since the dawn of tourism, these falls are a must-see in the region.
From the falls, we drove via the small town of Owaka, and stopped off at the lesser known attraction of Teapot World. Onwards to the rugged Coast of Cannibal Bay, strewn with kelp that looked like a scene straight out of an Aliens movie!
The weather closed in as we left the coast, so we headed back to the Frog to relax by the blazing fire of the lodge common room.
In the late afternoon, a couple of us ventured out again to walk the many tiers of McLean falls, before returning to another sumptuous dinner at the Lodge.
After our 2 night stay, we left the Whistling Frog, and headed south along the coast, with our first stop of the day being Cathedral Caves, getting there for the low tide. We walked 30 mins on the descending Bush track down to the vast sandy beach, with huge waves breaking on the rocks sending white spray 20 metres into the air. We walked on the wet sand over to the Cave, one of the the longest sea Caves in the world. We were unlucky that the water had not completely receded so we could only go partially in.
After the Caves, we carried on to Curio Bay and the petrified forest. Here the petrified remains of a Jurassic period forest lay, immortalised in stone. You could clearly see the trees still laying where they fell 160 million years ago! To think, these giants were standing when New Zealand and the Antarctic and most of the rest of the world were joined in one great Gondwanaland continent.
The Catlins is an amazing place. Steeped in mystery, shrouded in mist. Its about as “Pure NZ” as you can get, and definitely a bucket list destination for any kiwi.