Nugget Point

NZ 2012 – Day 5 – Dunedin to Te Anau

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Day 5
Dunedin – Te Anau



After two great days in Dunedin, it was time to pack our bags and continue our journey. After checking out from YHA, we drove south towards Balclutha.

We stumbled upon another scenic stop on the way and decided to take a quick detour. Lake Waihola was shrouded in mist that morning but still breathtaking in its own way. We only managed to stay for few minutes as it was very cold.

Lake Waihola
Misty Waihola

Continuing our journey, it didn’t take long before reaching Balclutha. To save time, we did not stop but continued the drive towards our intended destination. Plying along the coast, the drive was pleasant until the final few kilometres past Kaka Point where the road isn’t sealed, so we had to tread carefully and slowly.

After some twenty minutes, we arrived at Nugget Point. There weren’t many cars, probably it was still early.

To get to the tip of Nugget Point or the lighthouse, we took a leisurely walk for about a kilometre to the scenic point.

Nugget Point
The path to the lighthouse

Nugget Point is one of the most iconic landforms on the Otago coast. Located at the northern end of the Catlins coast down the road from Kaka Point, this steep headland has a lighthouse at its tip, surrounded by rocky islets (The Nuggets). The point is home to many seabirds, including penguins, gannets and spoonbills, and a large breeding colony of fur seals.

Nugget Point
Rocky islets adorn the beautiful Nugget Point

The strong wind did not help at all. We struggled to get good shots of the surroundings. Everything had to be done in a jiffy. Good thing we work in a group. The guys would help me set up the tripod, the lady would stand and prepare for me to take some test shots. 🙂

Nugget Point
The lighthouse

Nugget Point

The Catlins coast is one of the most dramatic coasts along the Otago coast. Along with the iconic lighthouse and the beautiful islets, this is an amazing place not to be missed.

Nugget Point
The Catlins coastline

Back on the road, we drove back to Balclutha for lunch before continuing our journey towards Fiordland National Park. Since Bluff wasn’t in our itinerary, we took chance to taste some Bluff oysters which were sold by a shop in Balcultha. They weren’t exactly cheap though and they were deep-fried in batter, so it kinda killed the sweetness of the oysters.

Continuing our journey after our sumptuous lunch at Subway, we continued plying along the State Highway 1 towards Clinton before stopping at local supermarket at Gore to replenish our supplies and also to get something for our dinner later. In case you didn’t know, in fact, the road from Clinton to Gore is named “The Presidential Highway”. Get the gist? Yes? No?

There was still plenty of driving to do as we stopped at Mossburn for a quick break. The heavy clouds gathered pace, so we moved on before reaching Te Anau at about 4:30PM. Sensing that the rain would come anytime soon, we did not waste time and immediately stopped at Te Anau Visitor Information Centre. We found so much information about Te Anau and Fiordland National Park and most importantly the weather forecast for the following day.

And then something happened when we were strolling outside the visitor centre. Somehow, I “managed” to let slip of my camera and THUD! It fell on the ground. It was silent for a moment before I let out a long OHHHHHHHH! The battery cover broke apart and the battery flung out while the zoom ring of my lens detached from the lens. My friends were too stunned to say anything at all. After gaining my momentum, I slowly picked up the pieces and my camera for inspection. Long story cut short, the camera was alright but the lens was only half working.

It took quite a while to digest what happened to my camera but along the way as we stopped at Lake Te Anau, I took quite a number of shots to assess the condition of my camera.

Lake Te Anau
Accidental shot turned out to be one of the most beautiful photos

Lake Te Anau is in the southwestern corner of the South Island of New Zealand. Its name was originally Te Ana-au, Maori for ‘The cave of swirling water’. The lake covers an area of 344 km², making it the second-largest lake by surface area in New Zealand (after Lake Taupo) and the largest in the South Island. Lake Te Anau is however the largest lake in Australasia by fresh water volume

Trying to put that incident behind me, we continued on our plan for the day. After checking in, we headed to Fiordland Cinema to watch the exclusive Ata Whenua (Shadowland), a 30-minute documentary about Fiordland National Park in four seasons. It is a great cinema that serves wine, which we gleefully brought into the cinema and that was a completely new experience for us conservative Malaysians. The 30-minute was well spent, great atmosphere and awesome documentary.

Fiordland Cinema
Fiordland Cinema, small but stylish

Fiordland Cinema
Cool lounge area

We strolled around the area, picking up some souvenirs along the way before heading back to YHA Te Anau to prepare for dinner. It rained the entire night and I was hoping the rain will clear by the time I wake up the next day.

YHA Te Anau
YHA Te Anau, common area, dining area and kitchen. Small but cozy.

Note #1 – We initially planned to ply along the Southern Scenic Route to get to Te Anau, but after careful consideration, we decided to take the shorter route. Southern Scenic Route is mostly coastal drive which starts from Dunedin, passing Balclutha, Catlins Forest Park, Invercargill, Riverton before heading up north to Manapouri and finally Te Anau. If you are taking this route, I’d suggest spending a night at Invercargill exploring the town and don’t forget to head to Bluff and try its famous oysters. It’s only 30 minutes drive from Invercargill.

Note #2 – The route we took (Dunedin – Balclutha – Clinton – Gore – Lumsden – Mossburn – Te Anau) is less scenic but gets you to the destination faster than the Southern Scenic Route. If you are planning to get to Te Anau from Dunedin and wants to drive along the Southern Scenic Route without spending a night at Invercargill, it is completely doable. Let me know if you are planning one.


View posts by chleong
A travel addict and food junkie. When he is not traveling, he loves penning his thoughts on his latest adventures, whether food, places or anything that fascinates him. His travelogues often include intriguing photos that capture the moments as he believes a photo speaks thousand words.


  1. […] Cook National Park Day 3 – Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park to Dunedin Day 4 – Dunedin Day 5 – Dunedin to Te Anau Day 6 – Te Anau to Milford Sound to Queenstown Day 7 – Queenstown Day 8 – […]

  2. peichenMar 9, 13

    ouchhh… ur lense actually dropped at Te Anau Visitor Information Centre >.<

    1. chleongMar 9, 13

      That’s why I opted that place out from your trip. Kekekeke just kidding

  3. Yee KhunDec 4, 13

    Interesting trip! Just stumble upon this today.
    My trip would also be the same from CHC to Greymouth in 12 days and is a great help to me. Thanks a lot!
    However, I am sceptical on the Dunedin-Gore-Te Anau sector, as on the map the roads are not as bold as the coastal highway.
    Is the roads dual or single carriage each way and is it easy to drive.
    Apex informs me that this is a truck and back road ( I think maybe like our trunk road in M’sia), and better to avoid.
    Could you share with me some of your driving experiences. Thanks

    1. chleongDec 7, 13

      Hello Yee Khun, thank you for your comment!

      For Dunedin-Gore-Te Anau sector, the road is completely sealed, single carriageway each way and it is just like most of the roads in South Island. Don’t worry about the road condition, they are a lot better than our trunk roads in Malaysia. I find driving in South Island is blissful, everyone is adhering to the speed limit, plus road signs are aplenty. One thing to keep in mind, most of the roads are not lit up, so you must consider your driving time between each destination so that it will not be too dark for you to drive.

      Assuming you depart from Dunedin early in the morning and with small stops in between, you will most likely reach Te Anau around late afternoon.

      Let me know if you need more information. I’d be glad to help or even plan your itinerary. 🙂

      1. Yee KhunDec 12, 13

        Thanks chleong for your reply.
        Following your blog, I find that I am quite familiar with the places and what to expect.
        It does makes you more sure during the drive.

  4. RVFeb 23, 16

    We are thinking of going to Owaka, Papatowai and then go to Gore and Te Anau. What are your thoughts?

    1. chleongFeb 23, 16

      Hi, where is your starting point? Do you have any planned activities in Gore? From Papatowai to Gore and then to Te Anau is do-able, but if you have nothing planned in Gore, I’d suggest you to try Southern Scenic Route, where you drive towards Invercargill and Riverton before making your way to Manapouri and Te Anau. Southern Scenic Route takes about 4 hours leisurely drive, almost the same as Papatowai-Gore-Te Anau route. Of course, the latter has lesser views. 🙂

  5. John WooJul 18, 17

    I am a Singaporean and I am thinking of trying Te Anau – Invercargill/ Bluff – Dunedin with one night start in Invercargill in coming October. Is this too cold during this time for SSR ? The best view is in Nugget Point / Purakani Falls ?

    1. chleongJul 25, 17

      Hi John,

      Technically, it is doable but the entire journey is about 400km long and takes minimum 5 hours (if driving non-stop). I think you should split your journey into 2 days if you plan to cover the entire SSR from Te Anau to Dunedin. Maybe you can spend a night in Invercargill and try Bluff oysters. As for the weather, October should be the start of spring but weather in South Island is unpredictable, so it’s best if you prepare for the worst. Wonder if you already checked this website? It should help you to plan what to do/see in SSR.


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