Travelling to the Catlins
This Canterbury anniversary was the historic 150th running of the New Zealand Cup at Riccarton Park. Rather than get caught up in the mayhem, we decided to head south to the mighty Catlins, south of Dunedin. Mighty because of the beauty, and mighty due to the long drive from Christchurch-something that could only be done on a long weekend. We left at 5pm on Thursday and stayed the night in Dunedin, just a stones throw from the Octagon. We logged a few GPS coordinates for the CamperMate database before leaving at 9am bound for our accommodation at the BBH hostel in Curio Bay. I always find it interesting to explore a city during the week, you get a different perspective on how people live during business hours than on the weekend. There was a far more relaxed vibe to the start of the working day, that what is experienced in Christchurch. A nice start to the long weekend! Heading south of Dunedin along the coast was amazing, the slight sea breeze and sunny skies made from a nice drive. We took the coast drive, to collect some data around the Brighton area, the photo below was taken around this spot -45.946375,170.335071
Next it was onto Balclutha, where we were warned it was the last 'proper' place to fill up on petrol and supplies. It was true that in the catlins supplies were fairly scarce, so if you're planning a trip the Catlins I would definately reccomend this piece of advice. We stopped in at the New World, just over the bridge on the left hand side. It had a great range of snacks in the self service bins. We added a few more GPS locations here in Balclutha before making the final trip along the coast line, where we found ourselves passing sights like this at Tautuku. The cows certainly looked happy! We continued onto our end destination Curio Bay, where we had planned to rent a room at the BBH. The weather had turned a little cloudy at this stage and started to spit so headed out past the Curio Bay camping ground to the rocks with our squid bait and telescopic surf casting rod, in the hope of catching some Blue Cod for dinner. It's lucky we took some frozen meals with us, as apart from a few bites, fish was not to be on the menu tonight. The conditions were remarkably flat, I can just imagine the huge swells that come through this part of the country. We checked out the famous penguins at Curio Bay who are quite a laugh. As a couple, they take turns at going out to sea for the day to collect food for the young. The eggs are laid in September/October and both parents incubate and help rear the chicks. The hunter/gatherer returns on dusk and (very slowly) makes their way up to the nest. In some cases, some of the penguins would chill out on the rock ledge for 15 minutes before jumping back into the water. Not quite ready to get home to the wife/husband perhaps! After all this driving, fishing and watching penguins we were quite buggered. The hostel we stayed at was awesome and only a stones throw from the beach (actually all accommodation is this close to the beach).. Being this close to the beach was fantastic, as over breakfast we watched the dolphins having a great time in the water. The dark spot here in the photo you can just make out is a dolphin, taken from my iPhone5. How cool is that! Even though there are limited things to do here in Curio Bay, you can easily fill in two days. Take a long walk down the beach (3 or so kms), hire a surf board and surf with the dolphins, check out the penguins, bird watch or just chill out on the beach. Curio bay and the wider Catlins are now definitely on my top 5 places in New Zealand to visit. Whilst you might not need to pack your fishing rod, take your camera!