Located in the Northern part of the Catlins, New Zealand, the Nugget Point Lighthouse walk (also known as Tokata) offers views of the dramatic coastline and you may even spot wildlife. Below is my guide to help you plan your visit: road, access, things to see...
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Why visit the Nugget Point Lighthouse?
- It is one of the easiest walks in the Catlins - and it is quite short
- It offers brilliant views of the Catlins coastline towards the South
- From the platforms you can clearly see "the Nuggets" a series of rocks sticking out of water
- You may see fur seals resting on the rocks below
Below is a short video to show you why you should drive the detour to enjoy the Nugget Point Lighthouse:
Planning Tips - Nugget Point New Zealand
Where is Nugget Point - Location
- South Island, South East coast
- In the Catlins region, Otago, South of Dunedin
- It is a short detour from the Southern Scenic Route
- Dunedin to Nugget Point carpark = 1h25 drive
- Invercargill to Nugget Point carpark = 2h drive (Via road 1- longer via the Catlins coast)
- On the Highlight of the Catlins Map below you can see the lighthouse on the point H8
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Visiting Nugget Point in the Catlins
- Easy drive to the carpark (road is narrower on the last 2km)
- 15min walk to the lookout platform - same return
- A little bit of slopes
- Toilets at the carpark
- How long to plan just for the Nugget walk - 45min
- Cost - free access
- Best time to visit ? Great place to watch sunrise - otherwise, visit nearby Roaring Bay at dusk to maybe see penguins
- Other walking opportunities around
Planning to rent a car in New Zealand? Check out the local company Snap Rentals
I selected it myself and paid my rental in full.
- They were very nice and responsive, they pick you up and drop you off at the airport
- The car I rented was in perfect condition
- In addition, they have all-inclusive insurance packages with AAA roadside assistance, which means I didn't have to worry (I think it's worth the price)
Where to stay
The Nuggets Road, Catlins, to Kaimataitai car park
The drive to Nugget point is already beautiful.
I was a little bit in a rush (to be able to reach the Cathedral Caves for low tide) so I could not stop as much as I wanted, but below is a snapshot.
You are driving on the Nuggets Road from Kaka Point. And you can see beautiful sandy beaches with the lighthouse in the distance and the Nugget rocky promontories at the end.
For the last 2 kilometers, the road gets narrower but it remains paved and in good condition. So it is not difficult:
Drive to the end of the road. At the beginning of the walk is a large carpark with toilets.
The carpark is called Kaimataitai.
Nugget Point / Tokata Walk
Nugget Point / Tokata Walk - Map
At the beginning of the walk you can see a map of the headland with the rocky islets at the end called the Nuggets.
Make sure you stay on the yellow public track.
Difficulty of the Nugget Point Lighthouse track
The track is well maintained as it is also a service road for the maintenance of the lighthouse.
First you don't see the lighthouse.
But look below as the views are already really nice with rocky outcrops.
The area is known for its wildlife: seals, penguins, gannets and royal spoonbills. So keep your eyes wide open.
I recommend bringing binoculars (check out my guide to help you choose the right pair for your needs).
At one point you head left or a narrower path. It is also very well maintained.
Don't forget to look behind you. The views of the coastline of Molyneux Bay are beautiful, especially as the sun is rising behind you.
Approaching the Tokata lighthouse
And then you approach the top of the headland and its lighthouse.
Nugget point used to be a significant danger so a lighthouse was built in 1869 and 1870.
The lighthouse was built out of local stones. It is standing 76m (249ft) above water. It has been automated since 1989.
It is surrounded by a fence, you cannot enter.
But you can take the path just below to reach the viewing platform behind.
Lookout platform - The Nuggets & Wildlife
The set up around the lighthouse is really nice, allowing you to admire the views in every directions. There is even a bench to take your time.
At the end of the headlands are many rocky islets. They are called "the Nuggets". You can see why...
And to your right you can see the Catlins coastline.
Have a look below as you may see birds and seals.
And in the distance you may be lucky to spot a whale or dolphins!
Below are 2 panoramas to give you a better idea of the views you can enjoy.
Around the headland is a scientific reserve but the marine area is not a reserve as the small local communities rely on fishing.
Roaring Bay and other walking tracks
Roaring Bay Track
You can also stop at the lower carpark.
There is a short walk taking you to the Roaring Bay lookout.
This is a great place to come at dusk in hope of seeing the famous yellow-eyed penguins come to shore for the night.
You can find other tracks in the area:
- Awakiki track - 40min return walk
Bush walk to discover lowland totara forest
- Kaka Point Bush Walk - 30min loop - Easy walk in the Kaka Point Scenic reserve
Want to see more of NEW ZEALAND?
I hope you will spot more wildlife than I did
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