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He may or may not have lost a finger to a close encounter with a sea lion (spoiler alert – he didn’t), but Lyndon McKenzie doesn’t let anything slow him down.

Owners and operators of Mohua Park Eco Accommodation in Tawanui, Lyndon and his wife Gill offer guided scenic and wildlife tours to showcase the stunning beauty of the Catlins. Penguins, seals, waterfalls and Nugget Point lighthouse feature in the many options on offer.

“That’s what people come to see, our wildlife, especially the Hoiho and the NZ Sea lions because we now have some breeding families. We go to an exclusive bay that nobody else can get to. The yellow-eyed penguins are in critical decline, so we’re extremely lucky to be able to see them,” says Lyndon.

Embracing that connection with nature is central to Mohua Park’s philosophy. In planning and building the luxury eco retreat, the McKenzie’s respect and passion for their environment shines through – from the materials chosen for construction and designing the buildings to complement the landscape, to the practices for waste reduction, energy and water savings.

“People come here to take a step back. Your phone won’t work here, so just put it away and enjoy it.”

“That’s the secret of the place, you see,” says Lyndon.

“The Catlins is such a quiet, remote place. When people come and stay with us, I take them to some of the underrated walks and waterfalls off the beaten track, as it is.

“There’s no big queues, you can go at your own pace.”

The two-legged locals are the other big draw card according to Lyndon.

“The people here in the Catlins are honest, reliable and if they say they’re going to do something, they’ll do it. It’s a little bit like stepping back in time here.”

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