Catlins Lake Things to Do

  • Things to Do
    by Robmj
  • Jacks Blowhole, Catlins
    Jacks Blowhole, Catlins
    by Robmj
  • Waipati Beach at Cathedral Caves, Catlins
    Waipati Beach at Cathedral Caves,...
    by Robmj

Best Rated Things to Do in Catlins Lake

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    Nugget Point

    by Robmj Updated Sep 5, 2009

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    Nugget Point, The Catlins

    The Nugget Point lighthouse and rocks flanked by sheer cliffs are a staggering sight.

    From the carpark, there is a well formed track that follows the coastline leading to the lighthouse and viewing platforms.

    If you have a head for heights and want the "money picture" then head up a track to the top of the hill, there are 2 houses and an aerial mast, go past the second house and an overgrown track will take you to the cliff face overlooking the scene. This is where my photo was taken from.

    Nugget Point is the pinniped capital of NZ. Pinnipeds are large marine mammals and include fur seal, sea lions and elephant seals and these creatures all co-exist in this area. Sea birds are also numerous.

    The lighthouse is 9.5m tall and is 76m above sea level overlooking the nuggets of rock that give its name. The area can be exposed on windy days but the scene and turquoise waters are very attractive and worth the 30 minutes return walk.

    Related to:
    • Hiking and Walking
    • National/State Park

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    McLeans Falls

    by Robmj Updated Sep 14, 2009

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    McLeans Falls in the Catlins

    There is a gravel road for 4kms into the carpark, which then has a forty minute return walking track.

    The track enters a gully with dense vegetation and lots of mosses and ferns. The Tautuku river echoes off the mudstone walls signals your approach up a track and onto the falls.

    The falls are idyllic and impressive with three main tiers cascading around 15 metres.

    The walk in and surrounding river valley covered in the vegetation is very nice. Lots of photo opportunity if you stray off the path a little.

    There is also a nice cafe/bar just off the road turnoff and the place also has good accommodation options. A great place to base yourself as it is around half way between the start at Fortrose and the end at Nugget Point or vice versa. The Cathedral caves, Lake Wilkie and Waipati beach are also very close.

    Related to:
    • Hiking and Walking

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    Cathedral Caves

    by Robmj Written Aug 25, 2009

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    Sea Lion at Cathedral Caves, Catlins

    To access these caves, you descend via a steep path set in a fern filled forest down to Waipati beach. From there you go to the headlands and the caves. This is only possible in low tide and a few hours either side, but the controlled access point will close the gates when you cannot enter. There is a small fee to pay as well.

    The beach and area are great and you are likely to encounter fur seals, smaller than sea lions that also are found in this area, but still, do not get between them and the sea.

    From the carpark, it will take you around 45 minutes return to the caves.

    Related to:
    • National/State Park
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Beaches

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    Curio Bay Petrified Forest

    by Robmj Written Aug 25, 2009

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    Petrified Forest at Curio Bay

    Tectonic uplift has exposed the petrified forest buried in layers of rock from the Jurassic period around 180 million years ago.

    The example seen at Curio Bay is amazing and claims to be one of the best examples in the world.

    There is a good viewing platform and although you can climb down and explore, you need to do so in low tide and the rocks are slippery. Also make sure you preserve the area for future generations by not damaging or removing fossils.

    At the northern end of the Bay, there are yellow eyed penguins and nearby Porpoise Bay is where you may sight Hector Dolphins.

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    Cannibal Bay

    by Robmj Written Sep 4, 2009

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    Cannibal Bay
    1 more image

    Cannibal Bay was named after human bones unearthed here a long time ago.

    The lovely bay has a beach exposed at low tide and headlands at both ends which are impressive rock stacks.

    There is a walking track from the far end of the beach to Surat Bay via sand dunes. This return trip will take an hour.

    Watch out for the sea lions who inhabit this area, especially the large 400kg males and don't get between them and the sea.

    Related to:
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Beaches

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    Jacks Blowhole

    by Robmj Updated Dec 19, 2009

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    Jacks Blowhole, Catlins

    Blowholes reflect the power of the sea. Waves create cavities forming caves. Where a weakness exits above the fissure, the compression of water and air can cause the overlying rock to collapse forming a chimney. From here, spray can often shoot up giving the effect of a guyser.

    Jacks Blowhole gets its name from Tuhawaiki a notable Maori Chief (Jack was his European name).

    The blowhole was discovered in 1875 and is large, 55m deep, 144m long and 68m wide. It is over 200m inland from the sea and is impressive on a rough day. The water below rides up the sheer walls and echoes loudly. Native vegetation surrounds the enormous blowhole.

    The track is a one hour (at most) return journey.

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    Purakaunui Falls

    by Robmj Written Aug 25, 2009

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    Purakaunui Falls, The Catlins

    These are some stunning waterfalls that cascade over three tiers set amongst some vegetation that makes for a very picterisque setting.

    You need to get down to the viewing platform for the best view, the view from above the falls does not do them justice.

    There is a metalled track that goes through the forest of silver beech.

    Related to:
    • National/State Park

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    Waipapa Point

    by Robmj Written Aug 25, 2009

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    Waipapa Point Lighthouse, Catlins

    The lighthouse at this point was the last wooden one built in NZ in 1884. The coast is rugged and is the scene of a number of shipwrecks including the Tararua that sunk in 1881 killing 131 people.

    As well as the lighthouse, there is cemetary that contains the Tararua victims, but also a lovely beach and rock formations that attract a variety of wildlife. You also get a nice view down the coast towards Bluff and inland slightly to Fortrose.

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    Tautuku Bay / Waipati Beach

    by Robmj Written Sep 4, 2009

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    Waipati Beach at Cathedral Caves, Catlins

    This bay has a splendid lookout from the northern point on the route.

    The beach is accessed from the Cathedral Caves access way which is well signposted.

    Tautuku is an area of native bush and has some accommodation options and an outdoor education lodge.

    The bay and beach are quite impressive.

    Related to:
    • Hiking and Walking
    • National/State Park
    • Beaches

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    Yellow Eyed Penguin Colony

    by Robmj Written Sep 4, 2009

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    Yellow Eyed Penguin at Roaring Bay

    Roaring Bay is just below the Nugget Point area and is home to a colony of yellow eyed penguins.

    Yellow eyed penguins stand about 70cm tall and weigh about 5kgs. They breed in southern parts of NZ and in the subantartic islands in spring.

    Roaring Bay is home to them and they generally come ashore after 3pm from May to September and after 4pm from October to April. There is a viewing hut. The bay faces due south and is exposed to large sea swells and strong winds.

    Related to:
    • Birdwatching
    • National/State Park
    • Hiking and Walking

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    Slope Point

    by Robmj Written Sep 4, 2009

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    This is actually the southern most point of the South Island of NZ on latitude 46.

    It is exposed to the weather, so bring your warm and rain proof gear. Its a very rugged and remote feeling form the point looking down the coastline. You can see the Waipapa point lighthouse and Bluff to the south. Below, the waves crash into the rugged shoreline and cliffs making an altogether impressive sight.

    It will take you 20 minutes return from the carpark, but access is closed during September and October.

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    Lake Wilkie

    by Robmj Updated Sep 14, 2009

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    Lake Wilkie

    The 1.7ha lake was formed around 7,000 years ago at the end of the last age ice.

    Now, vegetation has evolved with manuka, rimu and rata trees forming the bulk of the forest. There is a boardwalk around the lake with interpretive panels providing the history. The lake is now very small, but very cute with great reflections into the water of the vegetation. It is also stunning when the light is right and the setting makes for a great photo.

    The trip will only take 20 minutes return from the signposted carpark.

    Related to:
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Eco-Tourism

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    Yellow Penguins

    by rozehill Written Apr 10, 2003
    Yellow Eyes

    The yellow-eyed penguin requires a whole book to itself. The birds pair for life and always return to their favourite nesting site. They nest amongst the roots of forest trees or flax, within calling range but not sight of the next pair. They have no idea how to defend themselves or their chicks from predators. Stoats, cats and dogs are their worst enemies but possums and rats have been known to take their eggs as well. The little that is known about their feeding habits suggest they swim and dive to extraordinary distances. Such stamina commands great respect.

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Catlins Lake Things to Do

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