Making sense of my photography hobby in retirement

Archive for April 22, 2010

Not Really a Lake

Catlins Lake is not really a lake at all, it’s actually part of the Catlins River estuary and is tidal.  However, when the tide is in it looks like a lake.

Catlins Lake - Catlins, Southland, New Zealand

This image was taken at about 10.00am on our journey from the Pukaraunui Falls to Jacks Bay and the nearby Jacks Blowhole.  The tide was just turning and as we passed the narrowest part of the lake where the current formed by the outgoing tide was clearly evident.  When we passed the lake again later in the day there were only mud flats to be seen.

A clear morning sky and no wind produced great reflections so that there was a near-perfect mirror image of the distant sheep covered hills. A light breeze just ruffles the water in patches. Wading birds are a common sight along the shore at low tide. Shags patrol the waters when the tide is in.



The Catlins coast is renowned for rugged coastal vistas and waterfalls.  Perhaps the most visited place on the coast is Nugget Point with its lighthouse and scattering of small islands off the headland.  During the early days of settlement in New Zealand shipwrecks were common along this coast .  In 1870 a lighthouse was constructed here from rock quarried nearby.  In 1989, along with all other lighthouses around the New Zealand coast, it was automated.

The Nuggets - Catlins Coast, Southland Coast, New Zealand

The Nuggets have been formed by New Zealand’s shifting geology which has caused sedimentary rock to break up and tilt sideways over time to create today’s danger to shipping and classic coastal outcrops.  During our visit a fishing boat passed by the outer end of the islets and showed how a rather benign looking ocean swell could cause a smallish vessel to rock and roll. One could imaging how fierce the conditions could be in a storm and how sailing ships lost at night could easily fetch up here and get wrecked. The 1870’s lighthouse perched 76 metres above the cliff behind this view must have come as a relief to late nineteenth and early twentieth century mariners.

Nugget Point Lighthouse - Catlins

A wide variety of sea life can be found the rocky shoreline and islets including fur seals, sea lions, sea elephants, yellow-eyed penguins, shags, shearwaters, gannets and royal spoonbills.