The beach is an amazing place when you have it all to yourself at day break. It’s even more surreal in less populated places like the Catlins. I was pretty lucky on this morning as it was so still and near perfect conditions as the sun came up and the sky started to change in colour, form and texture. I didn’t see a single person the whole time I was there so it felt like I’d switched off from the world for a few hours or like I was walking in a dream.
Tautuku Bay At First Light – Do You Believe In Dreams?
On the bushwalk to McLean Falls, there are a number of smaller waterfalls that the river passes through. They all look pretty nice, and they are also accompanied by some interesting features in the river, like this whirlpool.
There was a good six to eight photographers around me all photographing a small waterfall in very much the same way, from the same position. I wanted something a bit different, so I turned around.
Getting to the caves was an experience in itself. First, we had a pleasant 20 minute walk through a native forest before a 10 minute stroll along Waipati Beach. The caves themselves rise (in some points) an amazing 30 minutes from the ground and are only accessible at low tide.
The caves are almost always filled with people, so in this case it was a choice between photographing the caves with people walking around or waiting till they moved on. I went for the without people option, as I wanted to show just the natural features of the caves.
The boardwalk at Tautuku Estuary was a great afternoon stroll. It makes its way through a Podocarp forest and out above the estuary. From the estuary, there were all sorts of bird life hunting for food and crabs moving around in the mud.
There were two main views that I considered when taking this shot. The first, looking out to sea and the second, looking in land. I went for the later as the hills added a different dimension to the composition.
McLean Falls is at the of Rewcastle Road which is about 3 kilometres from the main road. Since it was a nice day, we decided to walk the 3 kilometres to the start of the walking track. After a few uphill climbs with the sun getting warmer, it was definitely nice to see a cool river before having to walk back!
At the falls, the river plunges an astounding 22 metres into a ravine. This meant I wanted a slower shutter speed to give the water a candy floss style look, but not overexposing the surrounding bush at the same time.
I heard it, before I saw it. I saw it and I just stopped and stared! I stared some more and thought wow! The bush walk was a short (10 minute) stroll that took us through some outstanding forest before reaching a truly impressive sight.
I wanted to show as much of the falls as possible, in a way that captured the beauty and power of the water and the falls. I wanted to capture the rough plateau of rocks at the bottom while also bringing out a mysterious, mystical feeling that the area seemed to hold.
10 Highlights no visitor should miss in the Catlins.
Welcome to The Catlins, a hidden gem.
The term hidden gem is often used in travel writing, however I sometimes wonder if so many locations are truly deserving of such a glamorous title. Yet, if there is one place that comes close, the Catlins must be near the top of the list.
Like any destination that attracts tourist and holiday makers, the Catlins has it’s share of popular spots that you are simply going to have to share with people most of the time. The great thing about the Catlins however is that even the busy locations aren’t really full of people, you’ll still be able to connect with a moment of solitude if you so desire. Locations such as the Cathedral Caves, Nugget Point Lighthouse and McLean Falls are never short of people taking in the dramatic scenes and other areas such as Slope Point, Tautuku Bay and Lake Wilkie often seem to have a steady stream of visitors too. Although it must be remembered that no matter how many people you have to share these locations with, they are truly remarkable landscapes that won’t disappoint you no matter what the weather.