Day 47 -Catlin’s – Nugget point
On the waterfall hunt today around the Catlin’s area, then to see a light house. Starting off from last night’s Waikawa freedom camp, I head along to the Chasland’s highway, another stunning day with hardly a cloud in the sky. 30mins down the road is McLean’s waterfall carpark, my first water falls of the day. A 40min return walk from the carpark along a well maintained track. As you get closer you can hear the water making its way down the many rocks that make up the falls.
Starting off at the bottom there’s a small 2 meter high waterfall but with the green moss covered rocks and the bush surrounding it, it’s quite a great sight. Moving further up there is the main big fall, water pouring over the edge and down to the little lake below before cascading down the rocks to the lowers fall. Great waterfalls and well worth the short walk in.
I carry on down the road to the Cathedral caves. Situated at the northern end of Waipati beach, this massive cave has two entrances 40m apart. Eroded into the lime stone over many years. They are 30m high and go inland 199m, with the two entrances joining together at the back of the cave. You can only see the caves at low tide, lucky for me I arrived just as the lady was closing the gate and she let me through to the carpark. As it crosses over private land so there is a $5 entrance fee.
From the carpark I take the 1km walk down to the beach and a few hundred meters to the caves entrance. These things are massive, I have seen a few caves but these ones where by far the tallest ones I’ve been into. With the sound of the breaking surf echoing its way around the cave, I slowly make my way around. Since I was in such a rush to get down before the tide cuts them off, I forgot my torch. Creeping my way around trying not to fall over any obstacles that lay on the sandy floor, I get to the very back and can now see out both entrances.
By now I could see a couple of the waves reaching one of the entrances so it was time to get out of there before the cave becomes my home for the day. Just as I leave the cave a big wave came in, lucky I saw it coming and jumped up on to a rock but a couple of other tourists weren’t so lucky and got a bit wet with one of them having to chase after his bag as it got swept out to sea. I head back up the too van for a bit of lunch and plan the next stop.
Next up was Lake Wilkie, a small lake surrounded by bush, with a great reflection on a still day. I take the short 30min return walk along the easy path to the lakes edge, stopping off at a nice view point along to way. The DOC guys and gal were doing a bit of work down there so I didn’t stay long, a couple of pics and back to the van. The next stop was at Florence Hill look out. It looks out over the surf rolling into Tautuku Bay and the forest from the waters edge, around the point is the Cathedral caves.
Carrying on around is the next water falls of the day, this track has two, the Matai and Horse shoe waterfalls. Another short 30min return track from the car park to the falls, and you can also take another 1 hour historic railway walk from halfway along the falls track, if you’re after a longer walk. I get to the Matai falls first, slightly taller of the two but with some fallen trees it was hard to get any good pictures. 2 mins further up is Horse shoe falls, not as much water coming over this one as the others but still a really good water fall if to visit and get some good pictures.
Ten minutes’ drive further along and down Waikoato valley road is the last waterfalls of the day. The Purakaunui falls. They are some of the most photographed falls in New Zealand. Being 15 meters in height and cascading down over the three tiers it’s great for anyone that likes doing a bit of long exposure photograph. I head down the nice path, passing the sign saying 20min return, its wheelchair friendly until a lookout at the top of the falls then you have to walk down the stairs to the bottom. Along the way are little signs telling you what trees you are walking past and a few facts to enjoy. I stay here for a while, taking way too many photos but it was worth it in the end.
Now mid-afternoon I decide to head to a place I’ve been waiting to go to for a while, I’ve seen so many really good photos of the Nugget point light house that this was one of my must do’s on the trip and it didn’t disappoint. After the 50min drive from the falls I get to the Nugget point Carpark and then it’s a short 10-15min walk to the light house, with the light house been up on a small hill at the end of the peninsular, surrounded by the smaller Nugget islands. Along the path, you can look down along the rocky water’s edge and spot a seal colony, young ones splashing around in the rock pools and the adults getting their tan on in the sun. Once at the light house there is a viewing platform that looks out over the Nuggets.
A few pictures later I head back to the car and head a few hundred meters down the road to a little bay, the bay is home to some of the yellow eyed penguins and I had to see one, it was late afternoon and I headed down to the hide and we waited and waited, just over an hour later and one emerges from the water, waddling its way up the beach bouncing its way over a few rocks and then climbs up the grassy bank to its nest. Was really cool to see one in the wild, even though there was only 1 and you are a little way back I did get to see one.
Waiting around for another 10mins hoping more penguins will follow, I decided to get back up to the light house and wait for the sunset. It didn’t take long after I found my spot, for the sky to start changing colour, the horizon got a slight pinkie orange glow that just got darker and larger as the mins went by. This had been what I had been waiting for and it was putting on a good show. Snapping lots of pictures and filling up my memory card, it was a scramble to swap cards before the colours of the sky started to fade. A few more shots and the colours started to fade and darkness was setting in. Time to head for camp. Few minutes back up the road is Kaka Point campgrounds, nice little spot on the top of the hill and good place to end the day. Tomorrow I’ll be having a look around another southern city.