Time to Relax – The Catlins

“A Mish a Day” #207 Curio Bay/Waikawa. Catlins Conservation Area. 31.1.2020. Like so many parts of New Zealand, The Catlins are a place that see more tourist fellas exploring its many beaches and forest, than Kiwi fellas! Time and time again I have heard “I’ve always wanted to get down there”, and NOW is a better time than ever to visit! Located on the South Island’s south coast, it always pays to pack an extra layer or three, but don’t let a little southern weather put you off a trip to paradise.

The first time I traveled to the area was after very devastating event, which involved the loss of a fellow adventurer to an accident in the wilderness. A call to Howden Hut to check the weather report was sadly the last time anyone would hear the voice of the incredibly lovable Mitch Walker. A navigation error in thick cloud took away one of life’s greatest enthusiasts at only 22, and the impact on not only his family, but the guiding and Queenstown community really showed how many people Mitchell had influenced in his short, adventurous life. The Ultimate Hikes management gave us a few days to digest the shocking advents, and it was during this time that fellow guide, and all round enjoyer of good times, Dan Bus Keys came up with the idea of a mish to the Catlins. In the end four of us piled into Dan’s little Toyota, and we left Queenstown and headed south. After stocking up in Invercargill we headed for Fortrose, the gateway to the Catlins. In what seemed like no time at all, we had left behind the dull grey concrete of Invercargill, for the lush green forests and golden sand beaches of the Catlins. We drove along side Waikawa River to the large inlet of Waikawa Habour, then continued on to the epic flax-walled campground at Curio Bay. We smashed down an epic feed, then retreated to our allocated sleeping spots, mine being the folded down front seat of the car. An early-ish start had me realigning my vertebrae before an early morning stroll around the area. Curio Bay hosts a petrified forest, and the fossilised trees make for blizzard shapes amongst the rocks of the bay. By the time I got back to our camp the others had ventured out for an early morning swim, and while splashing about in the refreshing water they were visited by a pod of Hectors Dolphins. The loss of a friend is always a long road to recovery, and in the pristine environment of the Catlins we each had our own moments of sadness when reflecting on the last couple of days, and began the next stage in life without our mate. As we quietly made our way back along side Waikawa Harbour I knew that I would be back to the Catlins one day, little did I know that it would be more than ten years later. The next time I visited the Catlins was ironically with my old mate Dan again, and this time it was on a slightly different road to recovery.

It had only been a few weeks since the Fiordland Navigator’s (cruise ship) fridge door had smashed into my hip, with the impact causing similar injuries to a car accident, and putting a stop to all physical activity. Once again the chief of good vibes was called into action, and this time Dan was joined by his Sister and her little ones. We ended up renting a house right on Waikawa Harbour, and from the huge living room of the house we could look out over the beautiful inlet. We spent the next couple of days cruising around the small bays of the Caitlins, and Dan even got a wave over at Kaka Point. For the last night we moved to a larger house in Waikawa, and were joined by some others for a good old yarn, a couple of drinks, and a bloody good time! For someone who couldn’t really walk, it was an awesome way to see some great sites, and once again the Caitlins had helped to heal…

Porpoise Bay

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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