We all need to daydream from time to time. This is your chance to discover deserted pieces of paradise and feel the silky sand between your toes.
This itinerary can be done over a day or spread out over a few leisurely days or combined with the “Walk on the Wildside” or “Wonderful World of Waterfalls” itineraries. It goes north to south, or in reverse.
Start at Kākā Point or Port Molyneux with a stunning sweeping sandy shore dotted with little coves which is often overlooked as people rush to the nearby Nuggets. Take your pick from Wilsher Bay, Molyneux Bay or Short Bay.
Kākā Point - Cannibal Bay [13.4km, 21 min drive]
Onwards to Cannibal and Surat Bay which are linked by a dreamy dune walkway. A great place to spot wildlife but also to just kick back and relax. It’s a one and half hour walk return trip either way with the tidal lake off Pounawea offering those magical mirror reflections.
Cannibal Bay - Jack's Bay [20km, 30 min drive]
Next is Long Point and Jack’s Bay where you can amble over the headland or just park up for a picnic. It’s a top spot to see sensational sunsets.
Jack's Bay - Pūrākaunui Bay [18km, 27 min drive]
The lost world feel of Pūrākaunui Bay with the highest sea cliffs in the Catlins and pounding surf framed by the beautiful backdrop of lush rainforest is only a short drive from the famous falls bearing the same name. You will fall in love with this special spot and might be sorely tempted to try and stay longer… well you can because it is a DOC campsite.
Pūrākaunui Bay - Papatowai [30.1km, 35 min drive]
Tahakopa Beach and the Papatowai Estuary are up next which can both be reached from the car park by the bridge. This beach has that really wild feel but in a good way. You might spot a penguin or seal but probably won’t see another soul.
Across the water is the slice of paradise that is Papatowai which feels totally tropical despite staring out at Antarctica. There is a wonderful walk through the greenery to perhaps the best bench ever! Christmas time brings a real treat of the flowering red rata making this place even more gorgeous if that is possible.
Papatowai - Tautuku [4.6km, 5 min drive]
Tautuku just round the corner again is the next stretch of sumptuous sand where rainforest slides gracefully to the seashore. You can walk for hours right the way down to the peninsula. Yes you are still in New Zealand but it feels like paradise lost so just dream.
One of us locals’ favourite sanctuaries for serenity and tranquility is the hidden Lake Wilkie which has marvelous mirror reflections, lush bush and red rata at the start of summer. Nearby Tautuku Boardwalk is another place to dream in this hallowed place which feels like an Eco Amphitheatre in the heart of the rainforest.
Lake Wilkie - Cathedral Caves [8.1km, 9 min drive]
Waipati Beach – well where is that you might ask? It is the lovely beach where you will find the glorious Cathedral Caves. You pay $10 per person to reach this beautiful beach and can only go when Mother Nature allows… that means either side of low tide.
Cathedral Caves - Curio Bay [34.6km, 35 min drive]
Curio and Porpoise Bay is the final dream destination! A fossilized forest, penguins and surfing await. Oh and you might even get to swim with dolphins. Living the dream Catlins style!