It’s been eight years since we drove through the Catlins rainforest along the southern coast of New Zealand’s South Island. We have done a lot of traveling since then, yet the Catlins is still one of my favorite spots. Looking at the old photos, two things occur to me, first our girls have grown up so quickly and second, the Catlins are as impressive as I remember.
The Catlins are the area along the Southern coast between Fortrose and Kaka Point. Entering the Catlins takes you off the beaten path and into an unspoiled, subtropical paradise. It’s an area to be savored and enjoyed.
If in a hurry, one could drive through the Catlins in less than 2 hours. We took 3 days and really enjoyed the wild, rugged coastline; dense, temperate rainforests dotted with spectacular waterfalls; 160 million year old petrified wood; and, several endangered species including Hector’s Dolphin and one of the world’s rarest penguins (yellow eyed penguins). Being a distance from the typical tourist routes, many visitors to New Zealand skip the Catlins.
Our hikes through the rainforest were spectacular, despite the on and off drizzle. It is the rain that amplifies the rich colors of the rainforest and the cool, humid weather kept us comfortable as we hiked. Each stop along the road was different, each hike dramatic in its own way. A few highlights:
- The total population of the Catlins is about 1,200 and the land mass is approximately 1900 km² (730 sq mi).
- The climate is temperate, and cooler than other parts of New Zealand. Be sure to wear layers. The winds kick up and feel quite cold, contrasting the warmer calm areas.
- As the Catlins is largely rainforest, you should expect some drizzle at minimum. It rains more than half of the days spread throughout the year.
- Typical summer temperatures are 18-20 °C (64-68 °F), while average winter temperatures are 10-13 °C (50-55 °F).
Have you been to the Catlins? Have you hiked in a rainforest? Does this inspire you to travel?
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