The charming romantic retreat overlooking the Catlins

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When most people picture the Catlins, they probably picture wild seascapes, penguins, and waterfalls. At least that’s what comes to mind after years and years of visiting.

I head south when looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of work. Full of long beaches perfect for strolling, cozy cabins and tarps to hide and rest in, and plenty of adventure spots to choose from. Whether I’m camping with friends, learning to surf or just relaxing, the Catlins in the heart of Southland has long been a reliable place to relax.

Overlooking the Catlins Hills at dusk.

Liz Carlson

Overlooking the Catlins Hills at dusk.

There’s something special about returning to a place over and over again. The more time you spend exploring, the more layers of a region’s history you can delve into. The Catlins are one of those unique places in New Zealand. It’s not loud or flashy but beauty is everywhere and you have to slow down to take it all in.

A sucker for the sea, most of my visits involve staying at a bach near the beach. But this latest trip, I headed inland and to the relatively new heights of Beresford, a lovely hidden retreat on Table Hill overlooking Cannibal Bay and the endless hills of the Catlins.

READ MORE:
* Balclutha: more than a gateway to the Catlins
* Wild, calm and majestic: nothing beats a vacation in the Catlins
* Room review: The Catlins’ Skylark B&B and farmstay – escape to Narnia New Zealand

Beresford Heights sits 400 meters above sea level, overlooking the Catlins and the sea.

Liz Carlson

Beresford Heights sits 400 meters above sea level, overlooking the Catlins and the sea.

The Burgess family has farmed around Beresford Heights for three generations. Off-grid with all fixings, the romantic retreat sits 400 meters above sea level, overlooking the working cattle and sheep farm. Spectacular views will make you want to park and stay a while.

The forested hills and coastline make the Catlins the perfect getaway for those who love nature.

Liz Carlson

The forested hills and coastline make the Catlins the perfect getaway for those who love nature.

When you arrive at the farm below, the hosts will transport you and your belongings to the retreat by ATV. Close to Owaka you are not far from cafes and amenities if needed, although the real Beresford experience is hiding in the luxury cabin with exceptional dining options and views to match. And did I mention the wooden outdoor hot tub?

The Catlins are the unsung heroes of the South Island. It’s peaceful but packs a punch, and in many ways doesn’t get the attention it deserves.

A wooden hot tub overlooks the Catlins from the bridge in Beresford Heights.

Liz Carlson

A wooden hot tub overlooks the Catlins from the bridge in Beresford Heights.

The Catlins have a rich history. The area was named after a whaling captain who bought the land around the river for £30 in 1840. It was well used by Maori, dating back to 1350 when they roamed the land to hunt the moa and woodshed for the canoes. Although the moa is long gone, other birds and wildlife have rebounded, making the Catlins a thriving place for ecotourism.

Thanks to long-term conservation efforts, you are guaranteed to spot incredible wildlife throughout the area. From the endangered hoiho/yellow-eyed penguin to sea lions and fur seals on secluded beaches to Hector’s dolphins, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to live unique experiences with wildlife. Many of these creatures are now endangered or in decline.

The southernmost point of the South Island, Slope Point, is in the Catlins.

Liz Carlson

The southernmost point of the South Island, Slope Point, is in the Catlins.

If you are looking to get out and enjoy the distinct landscapes and experiences around the Catlins, the first place you need to go is the 20 meter high Purakaunui Falls. There are plenty of waterfalls to explore in the area and the forest walks are equally beautiful.

Stay safe: New Zealand is currently under Covid-19 restrictions. Follow the instructions on covid19.govt.nz.

The writer was hosted in Beresford Heights by Great South.

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