The Catlins is an area on the southernmost part of the southern island. The road through is scenic, and the traffic light. The towns are quiet, mostly situated on or near beautiful bays.
I stopped in the quiet town of Kaka Point about 6pm, and walked around it's 3 streets. Looking for a little local authentic taste, I hopped into the local convenience store and ordered Blue Cod fish & Chips. In less than 10 minutes, my $8NZ ($6.50CDN) was swapped for a big package wrapped in newspaper. I took it down to the beach to open my present and was greeted with a huge piece of Blue Cod and a generous helping of chips. In New Zealand, you pay for Ketchup and I passed, but the meal was fantastic just the same. My best, not to mention best value fish and chips in NZ so far.
Arriving late to Purakaunui Bay, we set up camp in the calm darkness overlooking the bay. This changed about 2AM when the tent was blowing against the side of my head, and about 5:30AM changed again to calmness for sunrise. Just when you think you have the weather here down, about 8AM is was blowing once more. Getting out of the tent, you could see it catching the wind like a sail, and blowing it in half like one as well.
The Catlins have some little waterfalls to catch including the hilariously named 'Niagara Falls' named after ours in Canada. Here, it is little more than a creek. The museum is community run, and full of lots of great tidbits and photos. One of my favourites so far.
Arriving in Porpoise Bay, the weather took a turn for the worst and although we were parked overlooking the bay, the wind was making the car shake, and the rain was so intense you could barely even see the bay. The extreme weather passed and stayed the night.
The area is also home to a Petrified Forest in Curio Bay, one of the best preserved in the world. Fortunate enough to see it at low tide, you could clearly see the remnants of trees, stumps and logs all turned to stone and left now exposed after thousands of years of erosion from the tides.
I visited Slope Point, the southernmost part of the South Island of New Zealand. The trees are so windswept that they grow sideways. Waipapa Point is home to New Zealand's worst shipwreck with 131 casualties in 1881. The shipwreck is still viewable at low tide.
All in all the Catlins are recommended to check out. It would be best to visit by car as the stops are not major, and buses would miss most of the good stuff. The road is scenic, and everything could be done in 1-3 days.