Now that I had gotten my first ever tramping experience over with, I was feeling very confident to plan one without the help of the tramping club. From the mid-semester break, I had also made the realization that I loved camping and wanted to go on more camping trips with friends.
The Catlins is an area about two hours south of Dunedin. Many people, especially surfers, travel there during the weekends because of its popular surf spots. Plus, with its close proximity to Otago, it was an easy trip to make. Me and three of my friends, Jen, Sam, and Ailisa, decided to plan a spontaneous girls trip to the Catlins. We loaded the car with our sleeping bags, tents, and most importantly, hummus, crackers, and chocolate, and set-off on our two-hour journey to the Catlins.
We arrived at Purakaunui, a popular camping spot in the Catlins, close to dark, and most of everyone there had already set up their tents and made their fires. Ailisa, who had camped there previously, showed us the perfect camping spot that was already equipped with a bench and fire pit, and high cliffs that shielded us from the wind. It was a clear sky, and the moon was bright enough that we could still see the waves and cliffs in the distance. Ailisa ventured off to look for more firewood, as we had only bought one bag of kindling, and the rest of us began making dinner. For dinner, we made bacon and pesto pasta topped with cheese. Though the bacon ended up more boiled than crisped, it was still a delicious meal and we were all very proud that we had not opted out for buying already-made food. We sat near the fire, eating our pesto pasta, sharing sweets, listening to music, and talking. We joked about how brave we were to go camping without a big group of people and laughed at the struggles we faced as girls peeing in the wilderness. When our conversations about life died down, we simply looked up at the stars and moon and then decided to head to bed.
Like any time I’ve gone camping, I’ve always tried to wake up for the sunrise. Keyword: “tried” because sometimes we’re all too tired or an alarm just doesn’t go off to wake us up. This was one of those times. However, we still awoke to the sun still low near the horizon. We walked along the beach then packed up our camping gear and headed out to explore the rest of the Catlins. As we were leaving, we could spot a group of five surfers running into the surf and more vans had pulled up to the beach to scope out the waves.
We spent the rest of the day exploring Purakaunui Falls, Curio Bay, and Nugget Point.
Overall, the Catlins is a beautiful destination in the South Island. I would suggest anyone who decides to study abroad at Otago to spend a weekend here, especially since it’s so close to home.
I’m loving it here in New Zealand!