Catlins Photography Trip Part 4 – Cathedral Caves and Fossilized Forest

One of the great things about NZ scenery is you can go from one extreme to another, with only a short drive in between. Today’s post features giant sea caves and about an hours drive away, ancient fossilized forest – both only viewable at low tide.  So as you may have guessed, visited on different days 🙂

The beaches in Southland are all spectacular, and the one leading to Cathedral Caves is an excellent example

Due to being sea caves, Cathedral Caves are only open for an hour either side of low tide, and some days if the sea is heavy, not open at all. I went early and there were already several cars in the carpark when I arrived.  The walk down the hill is quite steep and I realised about half way down that the walk UP the hill was going to be a bit of a slog 😦

You walk down thru lots of lovely native forest, and then come out to the most spectacular beach, acres of smooth flat sand, the bay a gentle curve that invites you to go swimming.

Entrance and Exit are the two dark shadows

I saw people coming out from the caves with legs wet up to the knees so I took my sandshoes off, and tied to my backpack.  There was a pond in the middle of the entrance to the first cave but only knee deep and the floor of the cave was all sand.  The above image shows the entrance as a dark shadow on the left edge of the image, and you walk through and come out the exit which is the second dark shadow.  Some wading through water and small waves to get back to the beach 🙂

Entrance to Cathedral Caves

This picture clearly shows the scale of the caves, and they are even higher once you get inside!

View from inside Cathedral Cave back to entrance

The layers of rocks visible both within the cave and around the base of the headland were fascinating.  Many colours and textures, all folded and layered rock, slowly weathering away.

Spot the person in the distance 🙂

I was right, the walk up the hill was *quite* challenging and my legs were sore the next day!

Next day drove out to Curio and Porpoise Bay, unfortunately didn’t see any dolphins or penguins but the scenery was well worth the trip 🙂

Click for a larger version – rocks on the Porpoise Bay end of the headland

It was extremely windy the day I visited, and in an attempt to get away from the wind I walked down a slope and this was the vista that greeted me.  There is a seal on the rocks on the left hand side, but well camoflagued!

Coming round to my left brings you to the Porpoise Bay beach, another spectacular beach, and with the protection of the rocks acting as a natural breakwater, looked like a lovely place to swim.  Hugely popular by the number of people driving into the campground as I was there.  Hector dolphins come to swim in the surf and play with the swimmers, which is a great attraction.

Porpoise Bay Beack – click for large version

Walking back up to the windy cliffs, this is the view down into Curio Bay – famous for its ancient fossilized totara forest.  Also Yellow Eyed Penguins but I didn’t see any of them on my visit.

Curio Bay – click for large version

Driving down and around to the Curio Bay walkway, coming down onto the rocks, looking back at the headland I had just been standing on.

View backup to the headland – click for larger version

I had never seen a fossilized forest before and I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I had a vision of lots of short stumps all sticking up out of the ground, which I found out was completely wrong.  Instead I found long tree trunks lying down, but they have completely turned to stone, and feel just like it when you touch them

Fossilized tree trunk

I had promised to go to Cathedral Caves for a friend, and despite the walk up the hill was well pleased I made the effort.  They are spectacular and it is a fun way to spend a couple of hours.

Also took the opportunity to take my new 10-22 ultrawide angle lens for a spin, several of the shots above were taken with it.  Can you tell which ones?  Do you like the effect it gives?

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About lensaddiction

Mad keen photographer figuring it out as she goes!
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2 Responses to Catlins Photography Trip Part 4 – Cathedral Caves and Fossilized Forest

  1. nzrileynz says:

    Love the new lens, it’s quite apparent which one’s are using it 🙂 I especially love the first image, the sand contours are lovely, and the rocks at Porpoise Bay are another favourite, I think part of me is a geologist, I find rocks fascinating and the layers in the cathedral cove rocks are fantastic!

    • lensaddiction says:

      You can tell I am drawn to the rock layers since I have the photos, I enjoyed the different textures in the rocks in Southland, they tended to be more geometric, than rounded like in Canterbury. I am loving the new lens too, so much fun 🙂

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