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Discover The Catlins: continue to discover local favourites along the Southern Scenic Route

The Catlins is one of the (many) glittering jewels in the Southland region – and a highlight of any Southern Scenic Route summer road trip.

With international borders firmly shut for the foreseeable future, you may be one of the many New Zealanders looking to discover the highlights of the place we’re lucky enough to call home. A recent survey of New Zealanders found that the Southern Scenic Route is one of the summer road trips Kiwis are most excited to discover this summer – so The Lodges at Transport World team has put our insider, local knowledge to good use. We’re here to share our favourite spots and must-do activities along the Southern Scenic Route with our guests. Today, we discover what makes The Catlins so special.


Purakanui Falls

These majestic waterfalls truly are spectacular. The Purakanui Falls are New Zealand’s most-photographed waterfalls, and one visit is enough to show you why.

(So beautiful, in fact, are the Purakanui Falls that they have even been featured on a New Zealand postage stamp.)

Pro tip: wear sturdy walking shoes. While the walking track weaving its way through verdant, lush forest is well-formed and accessible – it is even suitable for wheelchair users, to the top viewing point –the 20-minute walk can be a little bit damp underfoot. This is a rainforest, after all.

Pass through the mature beech and podocarp forest to reach the top of the track: opening up to a stunning view of the three-tiered falls.

To find out more – including how to access the Purakanui Falls – click here.


Tumu Toka Curioscape

The much-anticipated Tumu Toka Curioscape – the result of an enormous community effort, led by kaitiaki The South Catlins Charitable Trust, formed in 2002 to preserve the area’s incredible natural heritage – has arrived.

The community is passionate about The Catlins, it’s natural heritage, and the wildlife that calls this spectacular corner of the globe home. It shows. Tumu Toka Curioscape is an engaging, interactive experience for visitors to The Catlins. Heralded as an ‘amazing place on the edge of time’, Tumu Toka Curioscape tells the stories of the area’s ancient beginnings through to today. Journey through time within The Edge Experience immersive theatre.

Curio Bay is not only home to a beautiful, safe beach renowned as a local surfing spot and place to swim alongside a friendly and curious pod of hector’s Dolphins. The fossilised remains of an ancient forest can also be seen here: don’t miss the Curio Bay Petrified Forest, which can be explored at low tide. Yellow-eyed penguins (hoiho) also nest in the area, while fur seals and sea lions also make regular appearances, emerging from the coastline.

Set to be in the area on 2 January, 2021? Don’t miss the annual Big Dig competition.


Cathedral Caves

Experience Mother Nature at her finest. The 50-minute (return) walk to see these incredible caves, formed by the ebb and flow of time and the pure fury of nature – is only accessible for a small window of time each year.

Rising from the sandy shore, the Cathedral Caves soar 30 metres skywards. Located amongst the cliffs at the northern end of pristine Waipati Beach, if you visit just one spot in The Catlins this summer, the Cathedral Caves has to be it. Here you will discover the elements that make The Catlins so special. From lush rainforest (housing ancient rimu, totara, and miro as well as korimako, piwakawaka, and the grey warbler or riroriro – whose haunting warble will follow you), to golden sandy shores framed by rugged rockface, the Cathedral Caves can only be accessed two hours before low tide and one hour afterwards.

Planning ahead is a must. Take note and check tide times in advance. Prices to access the caves – on Maori freehold land – is $10 per adult, and $2 per child. Cash or EFTPOS is welcomed.

For more information on visiting The Catlins’ Cathedral Caves, including tide times, click here.


Niagara Falls Café and Gallery

This is beautiful, untouched New Zealand at its best.

Serving up fresh flavours and local produce that changes with the seasons, the café, restaurant and gallery at the small settlement of Niagara Falls here in The Catlins is a delightful stop as you venture along the Southern Scenic Route.

Housed in a former school, the café boasts produce like free-range eggs, water drawn from a nearby spring, Stewart Island salmon, and sauces and dips blended with love in-house. Award-winning Atomic coffee ensures thirsty visitors can get their caffeine fix.

The café is also home to the annual Niagara Falls Bluegrass Music Festival https://www.facebook.com/Niagarafallsbluegrass/. Set to be held on 6 and 7 February 2021, we’d highly encourage you to plan your summer road trip around this fantastic community-led event.

Visit their website here to find out more.

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