The Big Trip (Southern Leg) Day 5: Te Anau to the Catlins

The next morning we left Te Anau and headed for the Catlins. We took the scenic route along the southern coast to Invercargill, stopping for a break at Clifden to look at the old suspension bridge (and for me to release a book: White Ruff by Glenn Balch), where we discovered a pair of German tourists cooking their breakfast on a tiny camp stove in the middle of the bridge. A bit of a strange place to have your breakfast, but the view was nice, so it kind of made sense I suppose. (Incidentally, the book was caught a couple of days later, but not, I think, by the Germans).

We had our own late breakfast in Invercargill (and I released The Space Merchants by Frederik Pohl and CM Kornbluth in the cafe where we ate), and I redeemed my navigational failure in Te Anau (no, Kimi, we didn’t end up in the lake – anyway, you try navigating when you’re sitting in the back of a camper van and can’t really see where you’re going!) by managing to get us out of Invercargill and onto the right road for the Catlins without a proper map (the map we had of Invercargill only covered the city centre, and the only road out of town it showed was to Dunedin, so I had to do a bit of wild guessing).

As we left Invercargill, we could see rain clouds up ahead, so we thought our run of good luck with the weather must be over. But somehow they managed to stay just ahead of us all day, and the sun shone over our campervan.

In the Catlins we braved a series of dirt roads (actually, most of them were sealed this time, but there were still enough unsealed bits to annoy Father Outlaw, who comes from a civilized country with real roads) to see a few of the highlights. Of course, Niagara Falls had to be on the list:


(I’ve been there often enough now that the joke’s starting to get boring, but Mother Outlaw loved it, and took a picture of us all standing in front of the sign to send home to her friends)

The tide was coming in at Curio Bay, but there was still enough of the petrified forest above water to be interesting.

I released A Kid for Two Farthings by Wolf Mankowitz in the Curio Bay carpark, having had such good catches from there on the last trip, but no such luck this time.

And of course we had to take the Outlaws out to Slope Point, which as the southernmost point of the South Island is also the furthest south either of them had ever been.


Windswept trees at Slope Point.


Stopped somewhere on the side of the road to admire the view.

That night we camped at Kaka Point, and MrPloppy and I took the Outlaws out for dinner at the restaurant we’d had such bad service at last time we were there (if there’d been any other choices we would have gone elsewhere, but it was that or fish and chips). Luckily the service had improved greatly, our food actualy arrived promptly, and the Outlaws were able to try some freshly caught blue cod (which I’d been raving about ever since we’d started planning the trip south).

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One Comment

  1. I loved the Catlins. It’s quite a special place. Mr Kimi commented that one could actually paddle *up* Niagara Falls if you got a bit of speed up!

    Given that I have an almost identical picture to your "somewhere on the side of the road" view, I’m fairly sure yours is at the same place as ours was: Tautuku Bay. The sand was almost pink.

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