As often in New Zealand the weather changes very fast. The sky this morning is blue without any clouds and we decide to visit some beautiful spots in the Catlins. At first we start for the local bush walk, then we again take the car towards the South. We want to see several bays, eg. the so-called Cathedral Caves. You can only go there at low tide, so we have to plan carefully.
First Stop is Cannibal Bay. A gravel road of 8 km length takes us through the hills to the beach. As this bay is very isolated there are no other people. We had hoped to be able to watch sea lions again but unfortunately we can’t see any of them far and wide. When climbing over some rocks we are suddenly confronted with a young male directly in front of us. These animals are hidden perfectly! Both sides are very frightened, the sea lion goes on the run at once. After 10 m it has already become more courageous and hisses at us. We draw back carefully.
Punakaiki Falls are recommended in our travel guide. 10 minutes walk through the woods lead to the cascades. A beautiful motive, the typical photo wallpaper. Quite frequented.
We pass the entrance to the Cathedral Caves, we want to stop here on our way back, exactly at low tide. Regrettably we don’t. In Curio Bay we are interested in the fossilized trees, also only to be seen at low tide. What we did not know: This season penguins are breeding here, Hoihos, seven nests of them. A sign at the car park informs us: “Congratulations – you may experience penguin activities today! Best time is between 8 and 9 at night.” We already wanted to have returned by that time, what a pity!
You have to climb down a whole flight of stairs to reach the rocky terrain. Gernot has just started to take photos when suddenly a penguin appears only a few meters away, below the coppice on the edge of the cliffs. We can barely believe it! Unhurriedly it totters past us to the sea for a bath.
We decide to visit the Caves on out next journey to New Zealand and rather stay here for some time. Comfortably sitting on a rock in the sun we are able to watch several penguins for more than an hour, some of them coming really close. The Department of Conservation has blocked the area in front of the nests, nobody is allowed to pass. So the birds may go down to the water undisturbed. From the bushes you hear the calls of the young ones when greeting their parents at their return. I love penguins, they are just gorgeous!
As we like it here very much we stay a little longer. The water in the next bay is turquoise, the waves are sweeping softly on the beach. We take a short walk over the dunes and suddenly see – dolphins! The whole Purpoise Bay is full of Hector Dolphins. This is crazy! Here the wilderness is just on your doorstep, what kind of animals we already saw!