Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Long Beach and the Catlins

On Friday night, I finally made it out to Long Beach, the site of the cave party earlier this semester (which I unfortunately missed). A group of 20 or so of us went out there in the evening and set up in a large cave at the end of the beach. We sat around the campfire, roasted hotdogs, talked, and introduced our international friends to the marvelous creation that is a s'more! It was a cool night, but we stayed warm by curling up next to the fire in our sleeping bags. (And as an added bonus, my hat from that night still smells like campfire! Mmm!)

Long Beach cave
early morning on the beach

The next morning, I awoke around 6 AM to watch the sunrise. Despite the fact that we couldn't actually see the sunrise due to the clouds, I still loved sitting on the beach and watching the waves. I got a ride back to Dunedin fairly early, and then left with some other friends for a day trip to the Catlins. The Catlins are an area along the southern coast of the South Island, only a couple hours away from Dunedin. Along the Southern Scenic Route are many short trails to beaches, forests and waterfalls!

We began with a short trip to the Purakaunui Falls, and shortly after stopped at Florence Hill Lookout. The falls were nice, but were no comparison to the McLean falls we saw later that day. We then made it down to the Petrified Forest at Curio Bay. It is the site of a prehistoric forest that was petrified as fossil due to volcanic ash. You can still see the form of tree stumps and logs in the rocks! Matt, Sammy, Alison, and I walked out to a far group of rocks - and then almost got stuck there when the tide quickly came in within about 10 seconds! I had to wade all the way back to shore! (Petra watched our struggles with amusement from her dry position on the viewing platform.) Nonetheless, it was an interesting stop!

Purakaunui Falls
the Petrified Forest - those long lines on the ground are fossilized fallen trees!
We then stopped for lunch as Curio Bay, remaining safely onshore to avoid the quick tide changes. The biggest attraction of the day was next - Niagara Falls. I hope I didn't get your hopes up, there (it is hard to convey sarcasm through print!). New Zealand's Niagara Falls are listed as "the world's smallest waterfall." Why is this an attraction? Good question!

Niagara Falls - that's a vertical drop of about 2 inches there! Impressive!
We finally made it to McLean Falls, which I had heard from several others was the site to see. Despite the danger warning due to a recent rock slide, we decided to check it out anyway, and it was well-worth it! (Don't worry, the rock slide was small, and caused us no potential harm! I'm talking to you, here, parents!) The falls were incredibly tall, and fell down staircase-like rocks into the river below. I've seen many waterfalls on this trip, but McLean was definitely one of the most spectacular!

Matt climbed up to the upper waterfall - just look at the scale of this place!
Our last stop of the day was Nugget Point, which we reached just before sunset. We got a lovely view of the sunset from the lighthouse viewpoint. This point is surrounded by water on three sides, and I literally felt like I was standing at the edge of the Earth! New Zealand is a spectacular place, and has given me many opportunities to appreciate the sheer magnitude of the world!

Nugget Point lighthouse

"the end of the world?"
This weekend I am tramping Humpridge Track with some friends, so I will have many stories to tell when I return on Monday! So long for now!

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