I‘ve just spent the last few days touring The Catlins Coast, a sparsely populated region in the extreme southeastern corner of New Zealand’s South Island, a largely untouched region renowned for its wildlife & rugged coastal scenery. And oh what scenery.
Ominous clouds offshore of Waipapa Point (), a rocky promontory at the extreme south-western end of The Catlins, an exposed location infamous for its frequently wild weather and heavy ocean swells. It’s not surprising then to hear that this is the site of New Zealand’s worst maritime disaster. On April 29th, 1881, the passenger steamer Tararua, en route to Melbourne, Australia, foundered off Waipapa Point with the loss of all but 20 of the 151 people aboard. The lighthouse seen here, Waipapa Point Lighthouse, was built in response to the tragedy – it began operating in 1884 but didn’t become fully automated until 1976. The official Catlins pamphlet I had on the area warned me to “Come prepared to enjoy dynamic weather conditions.” It wasn’t wrong – within minutes of arriving here in nice sunlight the weather had changed, with the ominous-looking blue clouds directly overhead putting a dampener on things. Waipapa Point, The Catlins Coast, South Island, New Zealand. May 27th 2012.
A Fur Seal on the beach at Waipapa Point. The Catlins area is renowned for its wildlife – penguins, sea lions & Hector’s Dolphins are never too far away. Once haunted to near extinction, the New Zealand Fur Seal can now be found along most rocky coastlines in the south of the country. These particular seals were resting on the sandy beach at Waipapa Point & were totally oblivious to the attention they were garnering from the likes of me and my camera. They were asleep which meant they were the perfect posers. Waipapa Point, Catlins Coast, South Island, New Zealand. May 27th 2012.
I have been battling the rain for the last few days; it was never far away but for the most part I managed to stay one step ahead of Mother Nature. The above picture of a section of the Catlins Coast shows the approach of some nasty looking rain clouds with the added bonus of a faint rainbow offshore. The Catlins Coast, South Island, New Zealand. May 28th 2012.
A section of the rugged Catlins Coast, South Island, New Zealand. May 28th 2012.
Rock formation in the water off Surat Bay, a popular area to view Sea Lions. Unfortunately there were none around when I came calling – but they were here when I last was back in 2003 – but I still got to enjoy the spectacle of the powerful sea waves pounding offshore rock formations. Surat Bay, The Catlins Coast, South Island, New Zealand. May 28th 2012.
Strolling on the beach at Surat Bay, The Catlins, South Island, New Zealand. May 28th 2012.
One of the last areas of The Catlins Coast I visited, & again just beating heavy rain to the punch, was Nugget Point, one of the most iconic land forms on the Otago coast. Located at the northern end of the Catlins Coast, this steep headland has a lighthouse at its tip, surrounded by rocky islets – The Nuggets. It’s an extraordinarily beautiful & isolated place. Nugget Point, The Catlins Coast, South Island, New Zealand. May 28th 2012.