Swimming with tiny frickin’ dolphins!!!

—The Catlins—

If you happen to be in New Zealand and have a few days to spare, the Catlin area is a great place to stop by. Everything we saw in this blog post was seen over the course of one day, starting at about 7am. It sits about 3 hours away from Queenstown, 2 hours from Christchurch and 45 minutes away from Invercargill.

—Curio Bay—

Swim with Hector’s Dolphins and see some penguins on a petrified forest…NBD

The curio bay campground is the place to stay. Within 10 minutes you can see and some cool stuff. The night sky here, which didn’t start until 11:30pm, is one of the best views of the Milky way you can see. There is almost no light pollution.

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Not a bad view

Tracey told me there would be these tiny Hectors Dolphins. Apparently they don’t live many other places in the world and they come extremely close to the bay. We decided to check it out first thing in the morning and spotted them not to far out.

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Tracey on the hunt

The dolphins were surfing in the waves! And there were dozens of them moving up and down the bay.

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Tiny Hectors Dolphins just surfing away!


Even crazier, later in the day we decided to go for a dip. The water was frigid and Tracey and I were the only adults to get in until the dolphins suddenly reappeared to greet us again. At one point I was within a few feet of about six and I thought they were going to crash into me as they surfed a big wave coming at me. Luckily the dolphin dodged left and disappeared back into the ocean

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Petrified Forest remains

On the other side there is a petrified forest. It isn’t much to look at of course, just some 750 million year old tree stumps. Further down the road is another petrified forest piece but this one houses the rare Yellow-eyed Penguins. Were were lucky enough to see one each time we visited.

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Yellow-eyed Penguin just having a stretch


—Purakaunui Falls—

If you hop into the car you can reach these falls in about an hour. The “trail” down is a less than 10 minute walk. The falls were a bit low as this summer has been especially dry so the falls were not as big as they could have been but still worth a look.

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A little long exposure magic
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—Kaka and Nugget Point—

Hop back into your car and drive another hour and you will reach Kaka point. We just missed another penguin the second we arrived but the German couple there showed us the picture they had captured. On our way out there was a floppy sea lion slowly making its way to the ocean.

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More sea lion

The day wrapped up with a makeshift chili and a few bevies as we watched kids jump into the ocean from cliffs (until the police arrived).

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Our little campsite and some quick chili for dinner
By Alex

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