After a day exploring Milford Sound, we headed south-east towards the Catlins. After spending a night in Invercargill at a fantastic eco-guesthouse (see details in essentials at the end of this post), we headed north along the coast through the Catlins, finishing at Kaka Point. The Catlins are wonderful for nature lovers – the entire area is hardly developed, it’s easy to access, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors and the landscapes are breathtaking. Set aside at least a day to drive along this stretch of coast, as there are many places to stop and things to see along the way.
I’d recommend downloading and printing a map of the area, which marks out places of interest, before heading off. We knew that we wouldn’t be able to see everything in one day, so chose one or two short walks and visited a few of the beautiful waterfalls. We didn’t venture too far off the main road, but felt we had a good mix of coastal and forest landscapes.
The most stunning place in my opinion was definitely Nugget Point, with its isolated lighthouse and fantastic views over the South Pacific Ocean. There is the possibility of seeing seals and penguins here, particularly at night, but we didn’t have such luck unfortunately.
All in all, I would recommend setting aside a day or two during a trip of the South Island to explore the Catlins, as they are a nice change from the mountains and lakes which dominate the landscapes of South Island of New Zealand.
It’s roughly a 2.5 hour drive from Queenstown to Invercargill and a 3 hour drive to Kaka Point. Again, there isn’t any public transport, so you’ll have to hire a car. The roads through the South Island are well signposted, and if you have a simple map, it isn’t difficult to get around.
We stayed at a fabulous guesthouse just outside Invercargill called Bushy Point Fernbirds. Ian and Jenny run a lovely eco-guesthouse, with three comfortable bedrooms set aside for guests. The house is located on a large property, bordering wetlands, which they have allowed native New Zealand plants to thrive.