Back on the mainland, between Invercargill and Dunedin, lies The Catlins, the largest remaining area of native forest on the South Island’s east coast and an area of great natural interest.
The Catlins includes the Western Catlins Forest, a shoreline displaying ancient fossilised forests, caves and unique flora and fauna.
Animals to look out for include New Zealand fur seals and the Hookers sea lion. Rare birds can also be spotted, included the endangered yellow-eyed penguin.
There are DOC campsites throughout the area from where you can make your forays into the bush — inquiries can be made at the DOC offices in Invercargill and Owaka.
What to do
The Catlins’ main town, with a population of less than 400, Owaka has a DOC office, a museum and a few places to stay. You can camp at the Kaka Point Camping Ground or the Pounawea Motor Camp, or there is a DOC campsite at nearby Papatowai.
Wildlife tracking: do it yourself following tracks and walkways or join up with the experts.
Catlins Wildlife Trackers (tel: 455 2681) have excellent knowledge of the flora, fauna and geography and their two-day tour will show more than you’d see in a month in the bush on your own.
Some of the species found here are thought to confirm that the islands of New Zealand were once part of the ancient continent of Gondwanaland.
a short walk from the road, these caves are accessible from Waipati Beach at low tide.
Also look out for the Matai and Purakaunui Falls, Jack’s Blowhole and the walking tracks in the Catlins State Forest Park.
The largest town on the south coast, Invercargill doesn’t have much to attract visitors in itself, but if you’re on your way to Stewart Island or The Catlins you’ll probably pass through it. The Visitors Information Centre on Gala Street and the DOC office in the State Insurance Building offer useful local information, plus information on Stewart Island and The Catlins.
What to see
the Southland Museum and Art Gallery (home to the information centre) is focused on the Subantarctic, including the excellent Roaring Forties Experience audio-visual.
Queen’s Park is in the centre of town, and includes a swimming pool and waterslide, while the city’s main beach is Orteti, to the west. It’s not as cold as you might imagine, so give it a try in summer.
AccommodationInvercargill’s YHA is touted as the world’s southernmost or try Southern Comfort Backpackers or the Coachman’s Inn.
Related Tags ................
travel guide, travelers wonder, Wildlife, MUSEUM, China, Island, beach, Australia, restaurants, New Zealand, resort, national parks, tourism, Fishing, skiing, Mediterranean, Victoria, Islands, National Museum, flora, Fine Arts, South Island, Wildlife Park, Fauna, Auckland, Deep Sea, market, Bungy jumping, Underwater World, Mokihenau Island,