Anyone getting tired from all the adventure sports New Zealand has to offer and is craving a few days just doing nothing by a beach... come here!
Few New Zealanders, and fewer tourists, seem to have heard of the Catlins, right down on the South Coast of South Island. In our 3 nights here at Catlins Beach House in Porpoise Bay (www.catlinsbeachhouse.co.nz), we had a double room with a sea view - and what views! We could see the sea, with the world's smallest and rarest dolphins (Hectors) swimming in the surf, as well as abundant seabirds and a beautiful unfolding coastline. If adhering to local guidelines, you can swim in the freezing cold sea, and the dolphins may come up to you, as they are pretty inquisitive. Despite banging rocks together and singing underwater (as advised by locals with a sense of humour) Rob made no new dolphin friends, and instead turned slowly blue.
The area is also home to the rare Yellow Eye Penguin, and we spent a good few hours on the local beack watching them - they're amazing! We were lucky to see some rather fat fluffy chicks as well. The Blue Penguins, much more common in NZ, also reside along Porpoise Bay but only come out of the water when it's pitch black. We did see one in the dark scurrying along the beach, but it didn't seem to want to hang around and chat. Most rude.
The beach house is run as a small backpackers and we were lucky enough to be staying there with some fantastic people. On our last night there, we all mucked in and created a feast so had a really good dinner together. A nice way to end our stay in this haven. In the morning, heading towards Dunedin along the Southern Scenic Route, we stopped off at Cathedral Caves (huge caves to explore only at low tide), The Lost Gypsy Gallery (full of Curios and mechanical artwork you can truly take part in - fantastic find!) and Nugget Point, for more penguin and seal sightings as well as rugged coastline. Arriving in Dunedin exhausted, we had dinner and drinks with one of our friends from the Catlins, to find another had turned up at our hostel as well, so it wasn't an early night by any means. Had a great time meeting people in a place where we hadn't even expected to see many others and absolutely loved the place we stayed. Dunedin seems very busy by comparison!