There are so many beautiful drives in New Zealand, but the Catlins drive was my favorite. So, officially, Kia Ora – which is Māori (indigenous New Zealanders) for welcome – Welcome to the Catlins!
Starting with the stunning Nugget Point Lighthouse, which was built in 1869, Nugget Point owes its name to the steep headlands and the scattering of the rocky islets, aka the Nuggets, below. Seeing the lighthouse silhouetted against the colors of the sky reminded me of an impressionist painting. The 40 minute walk to the lighthouse boasts beautiful views of fur seals, breeding grounds for sooty shearwaters, shags, royal spoonbills and yellow eyed penguins.
From Nugget Point, we drove to the Cathedral Coves on the Coromandel Peninsula. From a map perspective, driving to the Cathedral Coves did not really make sense, because later it would require backtracking, but there was a method to our madness. The Cathedral Coves caves can only be visited during low tide, which while we were visiting was between 1-3pm. So we darted from Nugget Point to the caves, and were greeted with this stunning landscape of Hahei Beach. The ripples in the sand from high tide were just stunning.
The gigantic caverns within these caves were eery. Part of me wanted to continue to explore, but the sensible part of me realized that high tide was approaching quickly, so, our visit was not nearly long enough. However, the beauty of the arched cavern will stay with me forever.
Our last stop on our Catlins drive took us to Purakaunui Falls, near Purakaunui Bay. There are several beautiful waterfalls along the Catlins drive, ranging from a 10 minute walk to a 20 minute walk but Purakaunui Falls is boasted as New Zealand’s most photogenic waterfall, so under our time restraints, we chose to visit these falls and they were the picture of pure beauty.
I love this photo below of Ryan and I because it reminds me of how truly lucky I am to be able to travel with my best friend and how much we have been able to travel together. We have a very similar photo of us from our trip to Argentina three years ago during our visit to Iguazu Falls. Looking at the photo now, I just smile, because we were such babies back then and had no idea what a wonderful three years we would have ahead of us.
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