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Some of the places in New Zealand have definitely been outstanding and have surprised me with the amount of beauty it has to offer in each different type of landscape.
Lauren and I made a day trip to the Catlins today, which has just left me with wanting to see more. The coastal region offers a variety of landscapes all within the confines of the park boundaries. We toured beaches, gravel roads winding in between the rolling hills and pastures, cliff sides, and rainforest paths that lead to layers of waterfalls.
A fellow traveller from England, named Ollie was also headed out for the day to the Catlins so we had decided to explore it together. We first stopped at Porpoise point in hopes that we could see some penguins and sea lions, but instead we got the chance to view a porpoise jumping and splashing around in the water only a short distance away from a few brave swimmers taking a dip in the cool water. The wind and the rain whipping in several directions, we walked down the beach and did some rock hopping around the point. From the higher points it gave you a good vantage point for watching the waves roll into the rocks and splash 10ft into the air before crashing down again and draining into the sea.
Our next destination being the main purpose for venturing into the Catlins was Maclean Falls. The hike was only a 40 minute return track, but since it was pretty much lunch time we quickly grabbed a bite to eat in the car park before starting the trail.
About 15ft down the trail the landscape transformed from small trees and low bushes to full on rainforest with lush ferns branching overtop and massive trees filled with moss and vines all reaching to the top in order to get as much sunlight as possible. All of the foliage sparkling bright green from the fresh raindrops. Since it had been raining the entire day before all of the flora and fauna were vibrant and fresh looking.
As we wound our way along the stream the water was rushing through and trickling overtop the rocks that were mid stream and as we walked further up the path the water falls grew in size and velocity.
When we reached the end of the path (second picture) the majority of people stopped there to take their photos, gaze into the rushing flow of water and then return back down the path in which they came. Others, similar to me went a little further down the path in order to get a better angle for my photo. Some people went as far as scaling the rock wall along the side or scrambling up onto the ledge closest to the falls. I didn't go that far because I didn't think the risk would be worth the reward. Plus I had already gotten a pretty good angle from where I was standing. Happy with my photos I went back up to the first platform and just after the rain started misting, giving the falls a whole new perspective. If you look close enough you can see the rain misting down in my photo. It was a fantastic set of falls, but with hopes of possibly seeing Cathedral Caves we decided to turn around and head back to the car park. On the way back Ollie and I climbed down to one of the smaller sets of falls (third picture) to take a quick look before exiting the lush rainforest. While walking he had told me it was his first time in a rainforest, so we chatted the whole way talking about the different features of the forest and the types of flora and fauna. I explained the ones I knew based off of the similar plants we have, and we stopped at some of the interpretive signage in order to learn some new ones. I enjoyed the short hike and was excited to continue exploring.
Unfortunately the caves were closed, either because the tide was starting to come back in or due to the high volume of rain the area had accumulated over the previous few days.
Instead we continued across to Florence Hill lookout a little further up the road. When we got out there were quite a few people taking photos of the bay. I took a couple photos and from there we began making our way back towards the side of the park we had entered through. The clouds had moved in and it was beginning to rain again, looking as though it will continue for the remainder of the day.
Our last little stop on the way back to Invercargill was labelled as the worlds smallest waterfall, named Niagara. Essentially it was just a little trickle over a few rocks in the middle of the stream.

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