Best Trave Experiences in the South Island - Day 6

Today's plan is to get off the beaten track and travel north via the wonderful Catlins, visiting Curio Bay and two of New Zealand's finest waterfalls, The McLean Falls and The Purakanui Falls. After a late night of Kiwi spotting, is was quite a challenge to get back to the ferry terminal by 8:00 AM, returning us to Bluff, from where we would drive around the coast to our final stop at Dunedin.

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We started the day with a visit to a great little cafe at the town of Niagara where we had breakfast (yes, they have their own Niagara Falls, the joke being that at several inches in height, they are reputed to be the smallest in New Zealand) then it was onto Curio Bay, The McLean Falls,The Florence Hill Lookout, the Purakanui Falls and the lighthouse at Nugget Point. 

This windswept coastline, battered by the "Roaring Forties" is one of the great drives of New Zealand. The photos you see below are just examples of the places to be found when exploring this remote region. We covered the route comfortably in a day, but an overnights stay at a local B&B would be the ideal way to see more of the attractions on offer.

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The Niagara Falls Cafe in The Catlins, was our first "discovery" of the day. The scones, still warm, were huge and delicious, made by the wife of a local farmer. The menu looked great and the coffee tasted just fine. 

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Curio Bay with some of the fascinating petrified forest, imprinted on the rocky foreshore and dating back 170 million years, visible in the foreground.

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The McLean Falls. Just a short drive off the main road and an easy 20 minute forested walk from the roadway. Recent rains made for a spectacular scene, definitely worth the effort.

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Susan's photo of Tautuku Bay from the Florence Hill Lookout, on the main road through the Catlins.

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A twenty minute drive in each direction off the main road (some of it unsealed) followed by a short 5-minute walk to get to the Purakanui Falls. Prettier than the McLean Falls but our preference remained the McLean Falls.

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Our last stop for the day, the lighthouse at Nugget Point. The locals will claim there are sea lions, seals and yellow eyed penguins to be seen here, but after many visits over several years, I have never seen any of  them so I remain a little skeptical of this claim. But the views are stunning and it's a beautiful drive past gold sand beaches to the start of the access walk (20 minutes in each direction) The approach road is currently being upgraded.

Lindsay Barron

Lindsay Barron • Nov 15, 2016