The Catlins runs along the South West Coast of the South Island of NZ between Balclutha and Invercargill. Along this stretch are pristine forest s and more wildlife filled bays. Distance travelled along here was a lot slower for us as many of the roads are unsealed here, making it all the more fun. Our first stop was nugget point, another Penguin hide location. Again we saw the little rascals waddling up the beach late afternoon but we were dying for some pics a little closer, which we knew of a place a little further down. Further down the coast the next day we wanted to get to a place called the Cathedral Caves as it's shaped like a Cathedral. We had seen pictures on postcards which looked great and we knew we had to get here for low tide as that's the only time you can get to it however it was shut when we got there until 3 days on, we were gutted. Instead we walked to Mclean waterfalls, impressive in its own right, but not the best we've seen. Worth checking out however.
On the way to our next stop we passed some other really impressive beaches, again completely untouched and unspoilt until we got to Curio Bay, one of the world's finest fossil forests. When we looked over the lookout out we couldn't figure what the hype was about and then we took a stroll along the beach and rock pools and realized that there were loads of long tree trunk fossils molded into the rocks. They were everywhere, although we didn't understand why people would take bits home for souvenirs. It was here that we were going to get our final encounter with these yellow eyed penguins. Due to the cathedral caves being shut we arrived here a little early so we decided to check some other places out and then come back later in the afternoon. We found ourselves a great little farm stay on the way to Slope Point lookout, the most southerly point of NZ. It was really cool there, with a sign telling us the distances to the Equator and the South Pole. After getting some great advice from a guy we got chatting to we headed back to our farm stay to get cleaned up before checking out the penguins. We really wanted to look our best for the little b*****s; they might come closer than haha. The farm was amazing because no one was there except Kate and me so we had a communal area, which was more like a cosy apartment all to ourselves all night, it was brilliant. We cooked, looked at pics, drank beer and charged everything up and did washing all night. Got we sound like a married couple!! Anyway back to these penguins, we went down to the beach at the times they advice and there was nothing, gutted!! And then 10 minutes later they obviously smelt our fresh cologne and they were everywhere, ok there were about 7 or 8 but we were so happy after all our hard work in finding these guys. On this beach we were allowed to get up to 10 metres in distance from them (and maybe a little closer) and we got some amazing pics and even better videos of two of them mooching along and then one fell flat on his face jumping from one rock to another, so comical. Anyway to us it was the perfect end to a great day and we stayed there until dark.
Our final stop of the Catlins was to visit Waipapa Point, known for its golden beach and rock platforms were sea lions like to chill. It is also the place of NZ's worst civilian shipping disaster S.S. Tararua. We only stayed here shortly before our long drive up past Invercargill to Lake Manapouri. We reached the lighthouse and took a walk but we couldn't find any sea lions today, maybe they were also feeding. We had a cup of tea here to finalise our Catlins experience and then drove on, hitting Pack n Save for some shopping, moving on quickly to Lake Manapouri for some lunch on the lake. This is the access point for the famous Doubtful Sounds but we had decided to do the even more famous Milford Sounds a little further up as it costs a hell of a lot to get to Doubtful due to no road access.