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Over the last 15 years I travelled New Zealand extensively and often get asked "what are my highlights"?
To me, it has always been about the 100% Pure New Zealand experience. The open spaces, the wildlife and endless surprises.
The Catlins will always sit on the top of my list as a place to go. Located down in the most eastern corner of the South Island between Balclutha and Invercargill, it definitely seems to head off the beaten track. Mostly driving through the Southern Scenic Route, you pass through a range of remote, diverse landscapes and natural features while enjoying the surprise of incredible wildlife.
Nugget Point is Catlin's famous lighthouse tourist magnet, probably the South island's most scenic lighthouse location.
An unsealed windy coastal raod from Kaka Point leads you to tow car parks at Nugget Point Lighthouse, with the main attractions being two easy 20 minute return walks, one to the viewing platform next to the lighthouse built in 1870, the other to Raoring Bay which inhabits yellow eyed penguins.
I only bumped into a handful of people during this trip in April. Walking undisturbed along the beautiful Catlins beaches which are some of the finest anywhere in the South Island. Watch out for the marine lifre. The sea lions are everywhere and I was more than happy to share this awesome sunrise with a fellow sea lion, as it happened at Jacks Bay.
Just an hours drive further south of little town Owaka you will reach the show stopper and highlight Curio Bay. You will hardly find anything comparable to Cuiro Bay in New Zealand, maybe on the planet. There's simply nowhere else in the world that you can see penguins hop atop petrified tree stumps after a surf with friendly mini-hector dolphins in neighbouring bay.
The best time to explore Curio Bay is in the dusk when the resident colony of yellow-eyed penguins come ashore for the night.
Remember to always drive safe in New Zealand.
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