March 21, 2011

The Catlins

My first trip to The Catlins - with James in 2004.

This weekend we (James, Nick, Kelly and myself) headed down to The Catlins.  It was Nick's idea, as the surf at Purakanui Bay was supposed to be perfect.  I don't surf -- but any reason is a good one to head down to The Catlins.
Nick and Kelly's tent at our camp site.
Kelly walking at Purakanui Bay.

The Catlins is the name of a region south of Dunedin. Hills covered in dense temperate rainforest roll right down to the edge of stunning, seemingly untouched beaches. Until very recently, the only main road through the region was gravel. Most of the smaller roads are still narrow and gravel, undulating and curving with the landscape. Travel along these roads, from a scenic waterfall, to ocean side caves, to an inland walk, is slow.  And gorgeous.

In spite of its rugged beauty, The Catlins can be a bit of an acquired taste - especially if you are a busy person - because going to the The Catlins means slowing -- way -- down----.  There's not much to "do" in some ways.  But over numerous trips to The Catlins, I have learned to take 2 hours to walk the length of a beach that could be walked in 20 minutes -  looking for shells, watching birds, shooting photos, and scanning for sea lions or dolphins. Then drive along to another beach... and do it all again.

The region has special significance to me for another reason too - because of the people I've shared time with there... The Catlins is the first place James and I spent a weekend together, really getting to know each other. We go often and it's always quality time together. My mom loves it there too - we've visited The Catlins on both of her last two trips to Dunedin. And we spent Christmas Eve and morning there with Nick and Kelly last year.
James and his reflection.

My mom. I think she likes it here.

A scenic overlook with Kelly.
Here's a warning to those who visit The Catlins: the weather is temperamental, at best. With my "other life" being in Southeast Alaska, this feels just as it should to me.  When it's sunny, it's almost unbelievably, indescribably beautiful. But more often, the wind and rain remind you that the place is rugged and remote for a reason. Hoards of tourists are kept away in favour of those who know how to bundle up and appreciate that the lush, windblown landscape is lush and windblown for a reason.

The source of many of my favourite photos, here's a few more of The Catlins...

A standard gravel road with a view.

Ferns near Cathedral Caves.
A view over an expansive bay.

Curio Bay.

Seaweed and Curio Bay.

Flax against the sky.

Seaweed is the subject of some of my favorite photos.

Good things come to those who stick out the storm.

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