Now that we’re getting into winter in NZ, it’s more and more appealing living in the past through these blogs, but also a bit painful. Bring back the warmth!
When I left off, we were finishing up our last full day in the Catlins. We had saved the most epic spot for last, Nugget Point, just down the road from our Airbnb. Also known as Tokata, it is a rocky promontory, crowned with the requisite lighthouse.
At the end of a weekday, the path wasn’t as busy as I’d imagine it gets at other times, or on weekends. It’s a pretty flat trek to the lighthouse, and only about ten minutes or so from the carpark. On the way, you can see seal pups down below, playing in tidal pools and making quite a racket, while their parents fish offshore. Perfect protected spot for a nursery!
From the viewing deck at the very end of the point, the views were breathtaking. I’ve truly never seen a place like it.
Seals were frolicking in the turquoise water here too. After taking in the surreal view for a while, we wandered back along the trail.
Having seen everything on our agenda, we headed back to the house and Higgs, taking him for a stroll on the beach before settling in with some wine on the deck. The sunshine and views of the ocean were perfect after our long day of exploring. Higgs was happy to tuck in with a bone after a full day guarding the Airbnb, too.
This was definitely one of the best Airbnbs we stayed at on our trip, although they were all pretty great.
The next morning, we set off early for our four-hour drive to Twizel, our next destination. It was hard to leave the amazing seaside paradise that is the Catlins, but it was exciting to be on to the next adventure.
On the drive down, we’d passed through the rugged, wild country south of the town of Alexandra, but hadn’t stopped because of the weather. Although it wasn’t great this time either, we were determined to stop and explore regardless. When we saw the Flat Top Hill Conservation Area, we pulled in and set out with our rain gear on.
This purple plant, viper’s bugloss, is everywhere on this part of the South Island. It’s invasive but makes for beautiful photos.
Higgs was very curious to see what secrets the rocks held. They were also the perfect perch for a short-legged beastie.
The trail we were on went past Butchers Dam, so we decided to make that our destination.
It was incredibly impressive, especially since we had no idea it was there when we stopped.
Human and dog sidekick for scale:
Since we were getting pretty soggy, it was time to head back to the car. We stopped briefly for a bite to eat in Alexandra before continuing along on our journey.
In Twizel, our quirky Airbnb was about 15 minutes outside of town, down a dirt road alongside a canal and close to Lake Ohau – truly peaceful and remote. Since the whole area is an International Dark Sky Reserve, we hoped we’d get a peek at clear skies one of our two nights, though the forecast didn’t look promising. When we arrived, we settled in for a low key first afternoon and evening, ready to enjoy the views of the nearby cloud-shrouded mountains. Plus, we even got our own trampoline, extensive movie collection, and a host-curated playlist, among other perks.
As dusk closed in, the moody landscape just begged to be photographed.
As you can see, no clear skies this night, but there was always the next one. Still a beautiful evening, either way!
The next day, we set out in the morning for Lake Ohau, which was just a couple minutes down the road, so we could all get some exercise. The long white cloud that NZ is known for made a striking appearance over the peaks across the water.
Higgs cooled off in the canal we crossed, one of many in the area that are used for energy generation.
The low clouds completely erased the tops of the nearby hills. It was very peaceful, and we didn’t encounter many people besides a few cyclists and a couple stand-up paddleboarders on the lake.
When we came to a cattle stop, Higgs knew the drill. “Dad!” Then the boys had to find a comfy spot while I took lots of photos of ducks (on my last blog).
We took the high road back, and the views were even better from this new vantage point. Cue Lion King music…
I even got some kisses from my buddy. Sweet pup.
Here’s a look at our awesome Airbnb, MenardsNZ, another one that tops the list for sure.
Stay tuned for the final installment of our epic road trip, including a Lord of the Rings filming location and incredible views of Mount Cook, the tallest mountain in NZ.