The Catlins refers to the southern coast of New Zealand basically between Dunedin (pronounced DooNEEden). There are many towns throughout the area but much of it is protected native bush, or what others might call forest. Between the large swathes of native bush are the quintessential NZ agriculture fields featuring friendly sheep and cattle as well as a mystery plant that we guess is akin to Swiss Chard (aka “Silver Beet” in NZ). We could be completely wrong about that part.
The Catlins is perfect for the oceanside lover. It was a little tough on us while we were there because a large, cold storm was making its way slowly across the entire south of NZ, and we were right on the edge of it the whole time. So while we were seeing lots of signs inviting us to the enjoy the surf school in the paradise of NZ, I was thinking that you would have to be crazy to want to laze about on this fridged, windy beach.
Apparently the Catlins coastline really does get warm sometimes and can be a beautiful place to swim, surf, SUP and kayak among the fur seals and Hector’s porpoises. But while we were there we did a lot more bundling up against the wind and finding the next, hopefully not damp, lodging spot.
One of the highlights of our time on the coast was the Cathedral Caves, some of the largest sea caves in NZ. Our timing was lucky as we arrived with the low tide- the only time you can access the caves safely. there was a little penguin in the back of one of the caves, but we didn’t get a good look because it was dark and, you know, harassing a penguin with your cell phone light while there stuck in the back of a sea cave isn’t really cool.
On the Otago Peninsula we did a fantastic bush to beach walk where we found some sea lions resting on the beach, and a hike we did in the woods brought us to some lovely falls.
Everyone seemed to be bracing themselves against the weather, however, and I was very thankful when we arrived in Riverton, southwest of Invercargill (sometimes spelled with one L to save ink) to an amazing Air BnB house on a hill overlooking the ocean. It was warm, it was dry, and I finally got my own bed.
The Catlins were beautiful, but perhaps would have been better in the warmth, if we hadn’t needed to avoid the giant storm. We are now back in the mountains, in the Fiordlands. The weather is clear but cold, and we are ready for the next chapter.