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December 2013 Issue
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Cat-napping in the Catlins

Camping at Purakaunui Bay, Catlins. Photo: Vaughan Brookfield
There is a DOC camp site ($6/night, person) with running water, toilets and rubbish bins
Purakaunui Bay is about 1hr45min south of Dunedin

Purakaunui Bay, Purakaunui Bay Scenic Reserve, Catlins

Purakaunui Bay, a small beach near the eastern end of the remote Catlins, is one of the most amazing places to camp in Otago.

As we pulled up to the car park there was a light offshore breeze and the sun was popping through the scattered clouds. We drove around a grassy corner and had a chat to a friendly camper who was packing up. Liking the look of his spot, we quickly set up camp and lit a fire in an old barrel.

The view was breathtaking as we sat back and enjoyed a steak sandwich, as the sun slowly retreated for the night.

Camp here and you’ll wake to sea lions and their pups heading down the beach for a day’s fishing. Nearby, yellow eyed penguins inhabit burrows. The bay is also known for its great surf conditions.

Within 10 minutes’ drive there are other amazing sights such as Jacks Blowhole and Purakaunui Waterfalls. Great rock fishing can also be easily accessed.

What really made it special for us were the sheltered, north-facing camp sites that offered views of the amazing band of cliffs that run from the north end of the beach.

It felt feel like we had the whole beach to ourselves.

– Vaughan Brookfield