I spent the day Monday making my way down the South Coast to the Catlins hoping to catch the Southern Lights. After a walk to view where the Waitaki River meets the ocean, I made my way to Moeraki Boulders, smooth, round naturally created boulders on the coast. There were a lot of people there and some sort of event for kids it seemed, but they were still cool to see. I’ve been pretty cold at night so I made a stop to buy a comforter from Salvation Army which ended up costing a whole $12. Afterwards I headed to Tunnel Beach Walkway where arches are formed by the ocean near Dunedin. The high, tan cliffs stood in stark contrast to the light blue sea crashing below. I was able to drop down all the way to the shore, but it was a strenuous hike back up.
The drive down the coast was beautiful, full of views of the sea, rainforests, and lots of green hills filled with farms. An abundance of sheep farms. Tawanui campground was far off the beaten path and recommended to me by another traveler at Moreaki Boulders. Right next to a river, there were only two other people at the campsite. The drive into it was through a bright green valley with more cows and sheeps wandering the hills. As much as I love camping, this sort of remote camping can get kind of scary. Mostly it’s just my mind playing tricks on me, but I did keep hearing some sort of large animal making noises all night. It could also just have been my neighbor snoring but who knows.
They say the early bird gets the worm, and I can tell you that I have never gotten the worm and rarely even make it for breakfast. I went to bed with every intention of waking up at 5:30 and making it Te Anau, but my newly acquired comforter made my tent a little too cozy and I ended up not getting up until 8. I still left camp before 9 though so I was pretty happy with that. Knowing I wouldn’t make it to Te Anau anymore, I took the scenic route to Fiordland making a stop at Cathedral Caverns, one of the 30 longest sea caves in the world. I also stopped at Curio Bay hoping to get a glimpse of some sea lions but instead I ended up running into the same traveler from Moreaki Boulders. Afterwards, I hit what I thought would be a straight 4 hour drive to the South Arm campsite.
By the time I reached Fiordland it was dumping rain and I had a 30 mile drive on a dirt road to the secluded campsite. The drive was magical, filled with mountains full of rainforests and roadside waterfalls, but 10 miles from the campsite one of those waterfalls had obliterated the road. I had to turn around and go back to the nearest campsite, an hour and half away. I set up my tent and cooked in the pouring rain, and because of Murphy’s law, the rain stopped as I was sitting in my car eating ramen. I can’t complain about the campsite though, it was free and right next to Lake Monowait. I found most of my stuff has lived up to its waterproofness, although the tent did get pretty wet before I was able to put the rainfly over it.