The above picture is actually the mountain top view from Cromwell, which is a bit further from where this post is based.

I've come to the realization that I want to explore my own country before I continue with any travels overseas.

Many years ago now, I spent a month on a Top Deck tour of Europe. While I found Eastern Europe incredible, nowhere could really compare to home. There's so many beautiful parts of this country, so largely untouched and un-conquered by human hands. Luckily enough for me, this year the only holiday I'd planned was actually in Owaka. I'd booked a wedding workshop in Queenstown for the end of September and thought fuck it.... I'll book an extended holiday and explore a part of this country I've always wanted to go to. The Catlins.

Safe to say, I did not regret my choice. Few months later, we went into lockdown. Travel overseas being restricted and many holidays thwarted for many others. Many people losing a lot of money invested into travel overseas. Though even if it wasn't for lockdown, I still would not have regretted seeing the many beautiful things I did and experienced.

I found myself lucky even to actually end up trapped in the cold snap that was a snow storm! The below pictures were the first two days I was in Owaka.

I'd continued on to Nugget Point as I was way too early for hotel check in. Half way up the walking track, it proceeded to snow. The santa fe was covered by the time I got back. So pleased to see it in the snow though. It truly was worthwhile. Good thing too that I got stuck in as it gave me heaps of time to edit the photos from the workshop!

The following sunset pictures were taken two days after the snow storm. Most of it had melted by now so I was bale to drive around and tiki tour. This is Nugget Point.

I had originally intended to do a sunset and sunrise almost every day in Owaka. But I got these shots and was too scared to go back because I'd already hit the "Jackpot" in my eyes.

The day after Nugget Point, I'd made the plan to visit Curio Bay, Waipapa Point, Slope Point as well as Matai Falls.

Curio Bay is a massive fossilized forest. When visited at low tide, you can see the large, long trunks that lay fallen on the shore. It's truly something else walking along on-top of this knowing what it is and how ancient the land is. Especially with the strong waves crashing around you!

Slope point is the southernmost point in New Zealand and has a deep drop to the crashing waves and rocks so don't go too close to the edge.

Occasionally there are seals and sea elephants at Waipapa Point, but unfortunately I didn't see any until I walked Cannibal Bay the next day.

I actually had to visit Matai Falls twice. This was because somehow I'd deleted my images the first time round.

Curio Bay at low tide

Slope Point

Slope Point signage

Waipapa Point

Waipapa Point

Snow still on the tracks to Matai Falls

Horseshoe Falls leading in to Matai Falls

Matai Falls

It was still a little cold but warming. Sun was out and it was gorgeous weather

The day after I walked these walks, I ventured out to Surat Bay for a morning walk. It was great walking along the beach... the only tracks were the occasional animal feet... birds, seals and even hoof prints! You can walk Surat as well as Cannibal, but I got a bit confused where the walks joined. This might be little clearer coming from Cannibal Bay. Warning - be aware of fur seals, sea elephants and sea lions. Apparently there is a colony there and sometimes the 'lions and 'elephants can be aggressive. There were a few sea lions and seals when I was on my walk, but I didn't encounter them until close to the cliffs. They can get pretty hidden behind driftwood and weed along the beach though! Though the most aggression I got was from the seagull nesting ground close to the cliffs. Actually got chased for about 30 metres with the gulls bombing me! I was the only person on the beach so happy no one saw that haha

After Surat Bay, I went to Jacks Bay and visited the blowhole.

Jack's Bay is a gorgeous place to stop and have a picnic. Word of warning with the blowhole walk though - moderate fitness required. I'm not particularly fit and struggled with how uphill the walk was. 60% downhill on the way back though so wasn't quite so bad then. My legs being jelly afterwards was completely worth it. While I didn't get the full on spouting effect of the blowhole, listening to the waves and watching them crash deep below, while the birds were sweeping across the hole getting the insects was incredible. During the walk has the most incredible views of the cliffs and ocean. I didn't get my camera out during the walk as I was a bit scared of losing it down the blowhole!

Next... Mclean Falls.

A relatively easy walk through the bush - not a hell of a lot more I can say other than that it was lovely.

Last but not least, Purakaunui Falls.

Truly the most beautiful falls I experienced - but was extremely busy with lots of people around. There is a really cool, large hollowed out tree near the start of the track which many people were forcing their children to get inside so they could take photos... was hilarious!

I hope you've enjoyed the pictures and found some inspiration for your own travels. It will be a place I would explore again... and I definitely plan to!