Go to the south of the south island, yeah! We spent two big days in the region but unfortunately the weather was pretty bad (rain and greyness). We started the road starting from Dunedin and taking the “Scenic Drive”. There are several stops to make and the stay can last for hours or days, it all depends on what you want to see and do. It is possible to see penguins but, do not get too excited, they are increasingly rare and you will have to be patient to see them!
Download the “Campermate” application. You will have free and paid campsites, showers, toilets and many other useful information for your stay.
The telephone company “Vodaphone” offers plans with unlimited internet and social media.
We rented a campervan to travel to New Zealand. We rented it from “escape” through “Frogs” but there are other agencies that rent.
The roads are beautiful and the unpaved roads are passable without any problem.
We stayed at the DOC campsite in Papatowai.
-Type of campsite: There is a lot of space in a large garden. It’s not far from a few things to visit. It is quiet.
-Kitchen: Common area for cooking but you must bring ALL your equipment, including your stove. There are only sinks and tables & chairs.
-WC / Shower: Only WC.
You will find small restaurants and cafes on your way.
There are a multitude of things to do, it all depends on the time you have and what you want to see.
Here is what we chose to do in two days:
- Nugget Point & Roaring Bay (Penguins)
- Cannibal Bay & Surat Bay
- Owaka Museum
- Jack’s Blowhole
- Purakaunui Falls & Matai Falls & McLean Falls
- Cathedral Caves
- Curio Bay & Pingouins
- Monkey Island & Gemstone Beach
One of the most frequented places in the Catlins but once there we understand why! It is very beautiful ! To access it, you will need to park in the car park and then walk around 1.5km on the coast. Watch carefully as you may be able to see penguins and sea lions in addition to coastal birds. Once at the lighthouse you will have a magnificent view of the “Nugget Point”, beautiful geological formations in the middle of the sea.
Just before the parking lot there is Roaring Bay from where you may be able to observe penguins. They are becoming increasingly rare, but the best times should normally be in the morning very early or just before sunset. Penguins having to go further and further to feed because of global warming, predators and also, because of us tourists, they tend to stop coming.
Two very pretty beaches where you can see sea lions. You can go from one bay to the other thanks to a path between the two bays. Count around 30min walk.
If you want to know more about toothy life, this museum is for you! There is a lot of information and objects. It’s interesting but it will take at least a good hour to read it all!
Price : 6$ per person.
To be honest it’s nothing really exceptional. To reach it you will have to walk a little less than twenty minutes. Certainly the walk to go there is beautiful but it remains just a hole.
Three beautiful waterfalls. To reach them you will have to walk in the forest and go up / down stairs. Count less than 30min for each waterfall.
A cave with two huge entrances which faces the sea. It is only accessible at low tide. It is a private site and is only accessible two hours before low tide and one hour after. Details will be indicated in front of the gate which will be closed outside these time slots.
Price: $ 10 / person
Tip: Go in thongs and shorts if you arrive at the opening and go down immediately because you may have water up to your knees anyway! But there will be no one at least!
A very beautiful place where you can see Jurassic trees petrified in the rock. On the other side of the bay you will have a view. There are often dolphins wandering around the area so watch the sea! And if you are there in time, wait for the penguins … but be patient because when we went there (in February 2020) there were only 4 who returned, all the others having stopped coming.
After Invercargill, still an hour away there is a great camping spot (free of charge) where you can go to a small island at low tide to watch dolphins and whales if it is the season.
Gemstone beach is a little further and you can find semi-precious stones on the sand.