The Catlins is an area of untamed beauty, forests, farmland, remote beaches, and splendid isolation. Only recently has it been discovered by national and international tourists. The “Southern Scenic Route” winds through the Catlins from Nugget Point to Curio Bay and on to Invercargill. Take the time to discover the Catlins, its wildlife, yellow eyed penguins, hector dolphins, seals, and sea lions. Its walking tracks, Cathedral caves, beaches, waterfalls, petrified forest, offer sheer beauty.
The Cathedral Caves are a series of sea caves on the Catlins Coastline. They are one of the most popular tourist attractions in the area. The journey to the caves begins with a walk through the forested Waipati Beach Scenic Reserve to Waipati Beach. A short walk north along the beach leads to the caves. The two main caves join together within the cliff, and one has a 30 metre high ceiling—test your singing voice, the acoustics are great. To ensure the safety of visitors, the access gate to Cathedral Caves opens two hours before low tide and is closed again two hours after, depending on daily sea conditions. Access to the caves is across private land, so there is a small charge.
There are many waterfalls in the Catlins region, and McLean Falls is one of the best. A bridal veil-like cascade over dark mossy rocks, the falls plummet more than twenty metres into a deep gorge.
Papatowai Beach is exposed to the full force of the Southern Ocean and is New Zealand’s equivalent to Mavericks, Pipeline, or Bells beaches. Here is the centre of big wave surfing. This wave starts working at 10ft and locals will tell you stories of 30ft plus days. This right-hand reef break has a massive steep ledge takeoff, followed by 300 metres of the biggest, heaviest surfable barrels on the mainland. Note this wave is very dangerous and should only be attempted by the experts.
Specially designed to trap the sun, Pipipi eco-cottage provides top class self-catering accommodation at Papatowai in the heart of the Catlins. Spacious lounge, kitchen, bathroom and upstairs bedroom with a perfect coastal and forest view are ideally suited for a couple. Several special features such as thermal walls, floor, double glazing, and a heat pump make this a very cosy house. Pipipi Eco-cottage was designed and built to maximize heat retention, capture solar heat, and be as self sufficient as possible. The concrete floor is underlain by an insulating layer of polystyrene foam. Ceramic tiles throughout the lower floor absorb and help retain solar heat. Downstairs walls near the front windows are painted a dark colour and lined internally with brick to absorb and retain solar heat. All outer walls are insulated with glass wool. The ceilings in both floors are insulated with extra thick glass wool. Windows are double glazed to retain heat, curtains provide extra insulation. The main entrance features a glazed porch area and double doors to prevent heat loss. Back-up heating is provided by a heat pump which uses electricity to transfer ambient heat from outdoors to the inside. It is the most efficient form of heating available. Sewage water is disposed of on-site using an evaporative trench system. Specially selected plants bedded in fine sand over gravel, remove water by transpiration. Solids are periodically removed from a septic tank. All water used in the house is collected off the roof.
Pipipi eco cottage provides top class self-catering accommodation at Papatowai in the heart of the Catlins. The large lounge, kitchen, bathroom, and upstairs bedroom with a perfect coastal and forest view are ideally suited for a couple. Spacious yet cosy with stunning ocean and bush views.
The Catlins, situated on the bottom east coast of New Zealand’s South Island, is like stepping back in time.
The unspoilt forest, coastlines, stunning waterfalls, and short hiking tracks will keep any visitor busy exploring. Be aware that many roads in this region are unpaved, but this just adds to the quaintness of the place and be assured that the roads do turn back into paved ones eventually, and it’s quite neat really having to slow down for the unpaved roads because it gives you more time to appreciate the region. The people are friendly,and always helpful, and if you are interested in getting up close and personal with the Hectors dolphin, there are very good Dolphin Experience tours which are well worth taking.
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