Catlins Road Trip: Waipapa Point & Slope Point – Day 166
Sea lion fights and the southernmost point of the South Island
Toady we are starting a 5-day Catlins road trip! Join us for Waipapa Point and Slope Point! If you like this video and want more NZ bucket list inspiration, then head on over to our YouTube Channel where we’re doing 365 Days: 365 Activities!
Today is Day 166 in New Zealand’s biggest gap year we are not even halfway through believe it or not we have still more than 6 months to go.
Today we are going to see some sea lion battles in the Catlins.
Today marks the first day of our epic Catlins road trip and we are starting our day by heading toward Waipapa Point which just as a word of warning all the road between Waipapa Point and Curio Bay are gravel roads so there’s a lot of gravel roading to do before we reach waipapa Point.
The information signs tell us that waipapa point is actually a historical site for a massive shipwreck that happened here. Where only 20 out of 151 people survived. And this sparked the building of this lighthouse that we can see at the end of the point.
But we’re not here for the historical features we’re mainly here for the wildlife.
So we are in Waipapa Point we’re gonna check out if there is some sea lions around so far we see ton of oystercatchers but no wildlife whatsoever. So far we see a lot of oystercatchers but no sea lions whatsoever. So hopefully we’ll get to see something very soon.
I think we can see one. No there’s one right here, Robin. Oh shoot.
I can’t believe that I did not even notice this huge sea lion. Oh my god this is so big.
Barely moving, he blends perfectly with the rocks. I’m not going to go wake him up. He’ll whack me.
Known as Whakahao or Rapoka in Maori, sorry for the pronunciation, there are also know in English as the Hooker Sea Lion but they have been renamed lately as the New Zealand sea lion and I think it’s so much easier to remember so I like that.
Every single year the New Zealand sea lion come back to New Zealand mainland to claim their territory and we see that right in front of our eyes. this male is basically defending his land against a younger and much smaller male which decides to come onto the same beach. What New Zealand sea lion male do is actually fight and solve their issues before the females come so as soon as the female come back from the sea, they arrive and they have one male to choose.
Although new Zealand sea lions are huge and they are basically all muscle they are super powerful creatures their fights are actually super lengthy. Most of the fight is actually gaging your opponent and those two sea lions are looking at each other for quite a while and it’s a massive spectacle as they move an inch closer to each other before the fight erupts it’s quite impressive.
Both sea lions position themselves in attacking position facing each other and moving really close and almost teeth distance to each other. Laura and I get a little bit scared because well it’s happening right now we know they’re gonna fight they’ve been grunting and roaring at each other for about 15 minutes so we move a little bit back and here is the fight.
Their roar resignates all around the beach as they are battling it out and it’s over in an instant sea lions are not fighting to kill each other but just to affirm their dominance so as soon a s the younger male the much smaller one realises that he’s no match for this older and more experienced male he’s just giving up and he’s been driven away from the beach.
It is mesmerising to be able to see such an amazing spectacle in front of us is literally the daily life of sea lions happening it’s so cool and it’s really sad to know that New Zealand sea lions are one of the rarest sea lions in the world. It’s actually the rarest sea lion in the world with only 12,000 individuals left mostly located around the Southland and Otago regions of New Zealand as well as in the sub-Antarctic Islands of New Zealand.
I for one am happy to see these 165kg animals taking their fight away from the beach. the fact that they are quite comfortable around humans means that they can be quite dangerous so it’s good to keep your distance at least 10m away from sea lions.
Now that the coast is clear Robin and I taking some time to have a look around this really awesome rocky shore before making our way along the walkway back to the lighthouse but our minds are completely still on those sea lions. They’re roar is so loud you can almost feel their breath. Yeah, coming out of their lungs it’s so powerful. And they are much bigger than what I thought they would be actually. yeah, they’re like… They’re kinda scary you don’t want to get too close. Yeah it’s like you know keep your respectable distance from there right.
We take some last photos of this amazing coastline before making our way back into our campervan for a quick lunch of pretty boring sandwiches… But then it’s back onto the road to our second destination of today which is Slope Point.
Alright so we are in Slope Point which is the southernmost point of New Zealand mainland.
Slope Point is the southernmost point of mainland New Zealand. Many of you might think it’s Bluff but actually it right here in the Catlins which is Slope Point and the walk to get there is just a 20 minute walk along farmland you need to follow a few markers to get there. But once we arrive we realise there’s really not much here. Just a sign, a bit of rugged coastline but it’s really awesome scenery so we can’t complain too much.
The views from the top of the cliffs are absolutely amazing we can see the top of the cliffs bashing onto the rocks below we can see all the seaweed behaving like hairs in the water it is really amazing and the colour of the water is so crystal clear. I love it.
But the token tourist thing to do is to take a picture with a sign that display where is the South Pole and where is the Equator from Slope Point. There is a few of those signs a little bit everywhere from Cape Reinga to Bluff at the bottom of the South Island and it’s really cool to take pictures with all those yellow signs.
After taking extra pictures on the cliff and more pictures because Laura is crazy about pictures we start making our way back up toward the campervan and most of the walk is passing through sheep fields which means in the lambing season which runs in New Zealand from September to November, the walk is often closed as sheep at this time of the year, need some peace.
We are now going to be making our way to our base for the rest of our Catlins stay which is the Whistling Frog Resort which is like a holiday park and campground as well. Robin is making us dinner tonight which is cheese with a little bit of pasta and this is the classic backpacker meal. Good way to save money while you’re on the road.
Now Waipapa Point is easy to access you literally you hop off from your van in the camp in the camp… It literally on the parking on the parking …. Literally on the parking slot on the parking lot, yeah, so literally on the parking slot…. So literally on the parking lot.