Sunday 15 December 2013

Surat Bay, Catlins

As mentioned in a previous post, David's sister & her husband unexpectedly arrived at the same campground as us to find that we'd taken their favourite site overlooking the water. We shifted the ute and they backed up the motorhome so they also got a great view!

We'd heard that the sealions were often up the harbour and after the first day of not seeing any it seemed that every time we looked out the window over the next two days there would be one or two on the sand or in the water. The one in the photo below is blocking the way around the point for the two tourists, he's also blocking the way to the high tide track. They stood there for ages trying to decide what to do. The sealion moved inland after awhile & they clambered over the rocks looking back over their shoulder often.

The view from our window
The two in the photo below spent quite awhile stalking each other up and down the water's edge after the smaller one initially popped his head over the edge of the sand wall & the sleeping one spotted him. They played it up for the half a dozen people that happened to be passing including David looking like a tourist with his i-pad recording the action! we all jumped back quite a way when one of the sealions decided we were getting a little too close to the edge and made a lunge for us and barked a "humph" of warning.

The Newhaven Holiday Park had by far the most modern buildings in the sleepy little settlement at the end of the road.

There were a number of abandoned houses, cars & boats along with a salmon farm in the area but also plenty of backpackers hostels, lodges & cribs dotted along the road into Surat Bay.

We drove around to Pounawea which is a spit of land that juts out into the bay and has a real feel of summer holiday settlement about it although there were plenty of permanents living there too. Pounawea means the meeting of two rivers, the Owaka comes in on one side, the Catlins on the other. The bay or estuary is huge and reaches far back inland & in fact is referred to as the Catlins Lakes.

Our side is on the left, the campground just out of picture on the far left. We drove around to the right side birdwatching, more on that later.
The nearest township is Owaka just 10kms away, we drove in there and had lunch at a cafĂ© on the main street....well really there's only one street with a couple of cafes, a pub, a Four Square, an i-site & a farming supply shop or two. But all the same it's a very busy place, obviously the hub for the district, a meeting place for tours in the Catlins; there were a lot of motorhomes & campervans passing through or stopping for supplies.

And also on the main road, right out of left field, Teapotland & Dollyworld. Definitely not what you're expecting in an area renowned for it's remoteness & wildlife. I guess it makes somebody happy (not the neighbours though, I'm sure)

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