|Monday 16 June - Dunedin
A good long drive out of Christchurch down Highway 1 to Dunedin (NZ's 4th largset town and a big University centre), taking pit stops at Oamurh and Moerki. Tuesday 17th saw a further drive out of Dunedin (not a lot to stay here for!) and onto Gore in readiness for the Catlins. The "bible" suggests that this is a road for the intrepid - sleepy villages, secluded guest houses and countless roadside attractions such as raging waterfalls and dramatic caves. It continues that it is aroute where one eye should always be on the water in search of visiting whales, the other on the dunes for resident penguins. However this intrepid traveller saw neither whales nor penguins preferring to keep both eyes on the continually winding roads ahead! The Catlins is a rugged, sparsely populated area, featuring a scenic coastal landscape and dense temperate rainforest.
I stopped off at Nugget Point at the northern end of the Catlins coast and did a short walking trail along the steep headland to the Nugget Point Lighthouse and the Nuggets (rocky islets) themselves. Nugget Point is one of the most iconic landforms on the Otago coast and the point is alledgedly home to many seabirds, including penguins, gannets and spoonbills, and a large breeding colony of fur seals. Hmm - enough said! But a beautiful setting never-the-less and one suggestion from me - they could do with a tea machine next to the lighthouse - there was a helluva draught blowing round the lighthouse!
There are many scenic walks in this area where the peaceful rolling hills sit in contradiction to the rugged coastline that they butt up against. So I ditched the car (not literally!) and went for a couple of invigorating walks to a couple of waterfalls - Purakanui and McLean - both spectacular in their own rights.
Back to the car and continue on through Wyndham, and overnight in Gore.