Welcome to the Catlins
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Catlins New Zealand

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.

Catlins New Zealand

Catlins New Zealand    Catlins New Zealand

Catlins New Zealand

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.

Catlins New Zealand

Catlins New Zealand

Catlins New Zealand

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.

Catlins New Zealand

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.

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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.

Catlins New Zealand

-Chelsea

For more up to date photos on our travels, follow along on Instagram! We are currently exploring Thailand!

LocationLOCATION: South Island, New Zealand


    • Thank you Yvonne! Thailand has been beautiful so far. We just go to Krabi Beach and literally swooning over the beach front properties!

  1. Oh my goodness, these photos are stunning! This looks like a place you will never forget visiting, it’s just unbelievable looking!!

    • Thank you Shea! The Catlins drive was my favorite drive in NZ and we did not even get to see everything! I cannot wait to go back one day and do the entire drive!

  2. The photos of this place are gorgeous and I’m sure they don’t do the place justice! So beautiful. Looks like you had a wonderful time.

    • Haha Meghan, I could not have said it better myself. The pictures really do not do it justice. The Catlins are so beautiful and I really am looking forward to when I can go back to NZ!

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