The next couple of days were to be spent exploring some of the more beautiful parts of the south island in The Catlins. There is a scenic drive which takes you from Invercargill to Dunedin with specific points of interest marked along the way. The first stop for us was New Zealand's most southerly point in a town called Bluff which turned out to be pretty duff as the town was really bleak and offered nothing other than a lookout point to the open ocean where the nearest major land mass was the Antarctic! We took a short trail walk around the peninsula before heading further round the coast. Being a scenic drive it was exactly what it said on the map and whilst it was a long drive to the first campsite we were kept entertained by all the beautiful scenery you come to expect from this part of the world. We stopped at a few points along the way to stretch our legs and take some photos however being adjacent to the Antarctic brings with it a cold and biting wind so we never hung around too long before heading back to the warmth of the van as even with 4 layers it was still absolutely freezing! We arrived at our camp for the night located near to the McLean Falls which was marked as a must see on our route planner. On checking in the owner of the camp suggested that we would have enough time to go to the falls today and then recommended a few other things for us to do tomorrow. He explained that the falls were only 10 minutes away and being a heritage park we thought he meant a 10 minute walk so we parked up the van, wrapped up and hit the road to the falls. Half an hour into the walk standing in the middle of a load of sheep on a farm we realised that it obviously meant 10 minutes by car which would maybe equate to a 90 minute walk one way! We amused ourselves making animal noises to the lambs, horses, cows and sheep for another half hour before heading back to the warmth of the van feeling rather foolish for misunderstanding the guides!The next morning we took the van round to the McLean Falls and were thankful that we weren't the kind of folk to stick to something once we start it as it was bloody miles away and we realised it would have taken ages to walk as when you get to the car park its another 40 minute round trip to through the woods to the falls. The walk to the falls is through a forest but its worth the hike as you will see from our photos its an impressive sight and amazing to think that in the middle of a dense forest is an amazing natural formation which without the proper path to guide you would otherwise be completely hidden from view! Once back at the van our next stop were the Cathedral Caves and after the beautiful cathedral cave we had explored at Hahai our expectations were high. The caves can only be viewed at low tide and we had arrived about 20 minutes before the road opened so we headed further round the coast to take in a 30 minute trail around Lake Wilkie with the intention to go back for the caves. The lake walk had information boards to draw attention to the various types of vegetation which grew from the lake edge back to the surrounding forest and needless to say we felt like a right couple of geography goobers taking in all the various lakeside fauna!! We next headed back to explore the caves and were horrified that the people who "owned" the road had a cheek to charge us $5 each to access a completely natural phenomenon which clearly doesn't belong to anyone. After sucking up the charges it was a 30 minute walk through the woods down to the beach and then another 5 minutes to the caves. Unfortunately even though it was low tide the water hadn't completely left the caves making one inaccessible (they didn't tell you that when they took your $5) and to access the closest cave we had to climb around the rocks at the entrance. Within a minute of getting up onto the rocks it became clear that they were incredibly slippy and within two minutes I slipped, fell, scraped my knee, cut my heel and gave myself a numb right bum cheek (which is bloody sore) and was an inch away from falling off the rocks into the water below! Michael looked about an inch away from bursting out laughing but obviously knew I wasn't going to appreciate the funny side of my dramatic tumble just yet! Once composed we slowly made our way into the caves for a closer look and throbbing ass and bleeding heel aside they were actually pretty impressive! To think that the power of the ocean has over hundreds of years hollowed out these enormous caves. The algae which were growing on the rocks gave them an amazing deep purple tone which only added to their beauty. One cave then leads into a second one of equally impressive stature before spitting you back out onto the beach which we soon realised was cut off from the rest of the beach by the tide so that meant more slippery rock scrambling. Fortunately my tiny, slow granny steps ensured that there was no more kissing algae for me and we made it back to the beach almost unscathed. It was a pretty painful hobble back up the beach to the van as the initial adrenaline from the fall had long worn off and now everything hurt! On returning to the van the sun was shining and there was a picnic area perfectly sheltered from the sea breeze so we were able to enjoy a rare lunch outside basking in the warmth. After lunch it was further round the coast to our second waterfall the Purakaunui Falls. Much as with the first it was a short walk through the forest to yet another impressive hidden falls. From the there it was onward to Jack's blowhole! We are not too sure who Jack was but we were keen to check out his blowhole so it was a 90 minute round trip on a route marked out by green and orange marker posts in the ground. The walk took us over a stye and through a farm full of sheep and even more sheep poo and as if that's not horrid enough when we got to the end of the field there was a big, bloated, dead sheep being eaten from the inside out by flys! After what felt like an eternity we eventually arrived at the blowhole which is like a massive open top cave, 200m from the ocean front where waves smash into the confined space forcing spray up into the air. It was an impressive sight however I am not sure it was worth trekking over fields of poo past a dead sheep to see! We took a bit of a gamble on a short cut back to the van and apart from having to hi jump one fence it paid off and we were back to the van in half the time. Time was marching on however there were still a couple of places we wanted to explore the next on the list being Tunnel Hill which is a historic reserve featuring a 246m long disused railway tunnel. The tunnel was carved out by hand in the late 17th century and now disused it is the main focal point of this reserve. Being scared of the dark and of confined spaces I really have no idea what I was thinking venturing into a long, dark probably haunted old railway tunnel so needless to say halfway through I had my eyes on my torch light in front of me and can tell you nothing of this historic beast other than that it was cold, dark, creepy and I hated every minute of my time inside it! Our final stop on our epic journey through The Catlins was to Nugget Point which is definitely one of the highlights of the Catlins coast. The track takes you along the stunning coastline to a lighthouse built in 1870, from this high viewing point you can see a collection of amazing rock pillars which spring up from the ocean floor below. The point gets its name from the rocks which have been likened to gold nuggets due to the random and rugged form they take on as they rise from the ocean bed. The nuggets are apparently best viewed at sunrise where the sun gives the rocks a golden hue however there is more chance that the dead sheep from earlier will miraculously come alive than there is of getting me out of my bed at 5am! When we are done with the nuggets it is only a short drive to the campsite at the tiny village of Kaka which has nothing more to offer than a power socket for the van but fortunately that is all we are looking for. Our whistle stop tour of The Catlins has been a roaring success and on chatting to some of the other campers over dinner that night we definitely fitted in much more of this beautiful region than most and even though we were exhausted it was most definitely worth it!