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PreviousDay: Day 22 – Dunedin to Curio Bay (The Catlins)

Day 23 – The Catlins

Curio Bay

We awoke to a glorious day – sunshine and very little wind (it does still feel autumn-like this time of year – chilly in the shade).

After a late start (to allow the tide to go out) we headed back to Curio Bay, and the Petrified Forest. This is a huge area (only accessible at low tide) which is the fossilised floor of an old forest. A flood flattened all the trees, and they were covered within a period of a couple of weeks, before the wood could rot. What is left are stone tree stumps and logs. You can easily see the grain of the wood, and in some of the stumps you can see the heart wood and the bark.

Petrified Tree Stump

From Curio Bay we headed to Waikawa, about 6 km to the north of where we were staying. They had an art exhibition on, with local artists. I had a bit of an impulse buy here – and we can’t fit it in the car. It’s a limestone carving, of a stylised man. It looks a bit more Easter Island-ish than Maori, but I don’t care – I like it! They’re going to find out how much it is to pack it in a crate and courier it – probably nearly as much as I paid for it!


Curio Bay is almost the furthest point south on the mainland – but even further south is Waipapa Point and Slope Point. Slope Point is marginally further south, but its a long gravel road to get to it, and there’s a lighthouse and sealions at Waipapa Point. So that’s where we headed…

And it was well worth the drive….even with the 6km of gravel to get to it.

It’s a lovely old lighthouse, and an easy walk from the car park both to the lighthouse and onto the beach. And this beach is great for seeing wildlife. There is a sealion colony (we only found one, but he was very photogenic)

and there was a large grey bird that looked like a heron (we’ll look it up when we get home!) We bet this place is often wild, and must catch some wet, rainy, windy days. But today was perfect.


As we were running short of petrol,we decided to go back via Tokanui, where we’d seen a petrol station. Unfortunately, when we got there, it was closed on a Saturday from 1:00 pm, and all day Sunday! Oh dear! There was another guy in the petrol station too, looking slightly panicked. Fortunately there was a note on the door saying that for a $5 surcharge, we could get the guy to open up if we called into the house down the road. So off we trundled. We found the guy cutting his lawns, and for 2 customers, he agreed to come back. By the time we got back, there were 2 more vehicles waiting. So it was well worth him opening up!

We also needed some wine (one of Arts staples in his ‘diet’). The local store didn’t have a licence, so we headed for the Tokanui Tavern. This is advertised as the furthest south mainland tavern in New Zealand. It has a bottle store, but we decided to try out the bar too. And very nice it was too, sitting there on a Saturday afternoon with a pint of Steinlager watching NZ vs Oz play 1 day cricket.

Then back to the Beach House, where Art was very happy socialising with all the young backpackers!

Next day: Day 24 – Curio Bay to Invercargill

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terris_travelogue/south_island/day_23.txt · Last modified: 2010/11/10 13:38 by art
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