Sunday, 8 January 2017

Camping at Pounawea- Part 3; Exploring


Continuing on from Part 2

We did a couple of day trips when the weather was settled, the first was to Purakaunui Falls, which we've visited on one of our previous trips through the Catlins. 

With a shortage of rain in the Catlins at the moment (really?), they were nowhere near as impressive as our last visit but the kids still enjoyed scrambling over the rocks...

...and climbing inside an old tree, with a hollow trunk, along the path.

We then drove out to beautiful Purakaunui Bay which, other than being a spectacular beach with a dramatic cliff backdrop, was also one of the locations used in Narnia- The Lion, the Witch & The Wardrobe.

There's a large DOC camp at the end of the road and overlooking the beach although not all the area is waterfront.

There were plenty of campers already set up for the coming holiday period and more arriving while we were there. 

The road into the bay is narrow, single lane in places and winding but the rewards for persevering with it are well worth the effort...

We may take the 5th-wheeler in on this visit but if not, we will definitely return after the crowds have gone home.

We walked along the beach to the end of the bay and back again, stopping to watch as a guy launched his jetski high into the surf  Can you spot the person sitting in the rocks in the top photo? It wasn't until after I took the shot and continued on towards the crib that I saw her sheltering out of the wind.

On another day, the families (ours and their friends) drove to Papatowai to have lunch and a walk on the beach.

Rain threatened but never arrived, the kids enjoyed exploring the rock pools, and afterwards we did a bush walk around the point to King Rock. Although by the time we broke out of the bush we were all a little weary so we told the kids the walk ended at the top and not down on the beach, by the rock below. I'm not so sure they believed us especially as marker poles marched off along the ridge.

There are some very generous people out there, here's a lovely vegetable patch you can help yourself to. I stopped to see if there were any herbs I could pick, but sadly there weren't, and while there were a few veges- spinach & lettuce, I could have had a few leaves off, I left them for the next person. 

But look what I did find, a blast from the past- a gooseberry bush! We used to have one growing wild on the farm when we were kids. It was a race between Mum and us to find and eat the ripe ones. Sadly these berries were like bullets, another month or two and they'd be lovely and juicy.

I was actually more interested in the two gorgeous donkeys in the paddock behind the fence. I was hoping they would come over and say hello but they stayed put, sheltering out of the wind beside the house.

Our last stop for the day was at the Lost Gypsy Gallery on the main road near the Papatowai settlement. You couldn't miss it, there were cars lined up and squeezed in here and there, down both sides of the road.

A far cry from when we paid a visit to the gallery back in February, 2014, when there was just a handful of people visiting the old bus.

Because we had seen it before, we left the families exploring and carried on home after checking out the Papatowai DOC Camp which was also very busy gearing up for New Year. It's a nice enough site close to the river and beach but surrounded in bush with no water views.

I haven't done a blog on random photos so I decided to slot this one in here- it's too good to leave out. A few of the guys had a game at the Owaka golf course one afternoon and Allister was the 'lucky' recipient, winning the inaugural Pounawea Camp Golf Challenge trophy. What looks like a pig's ear is a dried up sealion flipper that one of the kids brought back to camp after finding it out on the estuary. I bet this trophy doesn't find its way home in a hurry.

All too soon it was time for the family to pack up and head home, we had a fantastic time sharing Christmas and the New Year with them for another year (Mavora Lakes last year) and enjoying their company without living in each other's pockets. I know they were keen to get home and finish unpacking and sorting our their new home but it was sad to see them go.

Thank God they've gone.... (click on the link for the family joke)

And a few days later, reluctantly, it was time for us to up-sticks and move on too. You know you've enjoyed a campsite when the daisies are flourishing around your wheels and the grass has died under the mat.

If you're visiting the top-end of the Catlins and looking for somewhere to stay, try the Pounawea Motor Camp, it's an awesome family and dog friendly camp tucked into beautiful native bush on the edge of the ever changing Catlins River estuary and surrounded by bird and wildlife with some great fishing. Thanks Glenn & Lee-ann for your hospitality and a big thankyou to the regulars- camping families that have been visiting Pounawea for generations- thanks for making us so welcome.

(NB- for NZMCA members; the camp is not in the NZMCA directory or on the app (hopefully corrected soon) - but the link above takes you to their website.


  1. I started salivating the moment I saw the photo of the gooseberries, they would likely have cooked up ok. We also had gooseberry bushes on the farm at Hokonui when I was young.

    1. Hi Neil, never thought about cooking them up 'green'- I suppose if you can use green tomatoes you can have green gooseberries too.

  2. What a coincidence - the Lost Gypsy gallery was on the TV news the other night! Sadly, we were not aware of him on our last trip down. Seems that he is getting rather famous after being included in overseas guide books.

    Robin and Jenny, Romany Rambler

    1. Hi Jenny, yes it's a very interesting stop and a very inventive guy. Sadly many of the bits and bobs has rusted and weathered a bit since our last visit.

  3. LOST and FOUND: Lost from the south coast of North Island N Z.One only fishing village, goes by the name of Ngawi.Last heard of on Blogg dated 30th Oct.produced at Mapua.Could possibly have disappeared after S.I. eathquakes. Guess who.

    1. Your wish is my command! :) Luckily, I had been working on them so just about had it ready to go. Just for you xx


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