Category Archives: Holidays

Swaying around the world

Hello hello! Long time, no see! (Again. Whoops!)

You know what? I think this is officially the longest I’ve ever been without posting here in the past few years. Yep. So there’s a fair bit to catch up on…! 😉

But first up – let’s talk sewing.

Yellow Sway dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

And a bit of travelling.

So anyway, I made another dress! (Surprise!)

Yellow Sway dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

This time it’s the Sway dress by Papercut Patterns.

Papercut Patterns - Sway dress

Papercut Patterns – Sway dress

Now I liked this dress from the moment I saw it when it was released. But at the same time, it’s not my usual style. (I am a ‘fit and flare’ kinda girl, after all. Hah.) I originally got it because I was still nursing my youngest one, and thought that the tent style and centre front seam would work really well (easy to wear with post-pregnancy body changes, plus easy to add a centre front invisible zip for ‘easy access’ when required by a little one).

But then of course, I didn’t get around to making it before the littlest one decided to stop nursing. And it seemed like it would be yet another sewing plan consigned to the ‘things that could have been made’ pile. 😦

Clearly though, the pattern escaped that fate! Thanks to getting my hands on some lovely drapey viscose with a big floral print. I fell for the fabric, then had to figure out what to make with it. Something with drape… Something that didn’t require too much fabric so I could fit it on what I had… Something that didn’t have too much detailing because of the size of the floral print…. Eureka! The Sway dress!

Yellow Sway dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Plus, it seemed a perfect style for travelling. 😉

(And it was. This dress got it’s first wear in Hong Kong. And then on a long distance flight to Zurich, a shorter flight to Heathrow, a trip to Goldhawk Road in London (!!), a day in Singapore, a flight from Budapest to Frankfurt and on to Singapore, and also a day wandering around Cegled in Hungary. Which is where these photos were taken, courtesy of my extremely wonderful friend Agi. 🙂

Agi and I have a long history. We met when we were 18 – I lived with her family for a year as an exchange student, and they became my “second family”. I try to go back to Hungary every few years to visit them – and since I really wanted to introduce my youngest child to them before he got very old, this year the trip was made! (But more about that in another post.)

Anyway, one of the days I was staying with Agi, we went to Cegled, the nearby town, for a wander around. Perfect excuse for blog photos, no? 😉 These were mainly taken in the park at the town centre.

But let’s talk about the dress for now, shall we?

The Sway dress is a lovely pattern. Simple but with a great cut – very 70’s in style with it’s A-line tent dress style. There’s a centre front seam and a centre back seam, and inseam pockets. It comes in two lengths – short (the length I made) and shorter (the length I shall never make). (And yes, I know it’s meant to be longer than this but hey, I’m tall. This is how short above-knee-length styles end up on me.)

The neckline is a deep, wide vee on one side, and a scoop on the other – you can wear the dress either way ’round, so you can pick and choose which neckline you want at the front on any given day.

Yellow Sway dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

There are no fastenings – it’s a pull-on style, with a narrow tie belt that you can wear to cinch it in at the waist. (Top tip – this also makes it super comfy for wearing for long distance flights! I suspect this is going to be a go-to travel pattern for me.)

Yellow Sway dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

So far, sounds pretty simple, right? Well, then we get to the facings and that all changes! The necklines (both of them) are faced, as is the armholes. The facing is an all-in-one style, and the pattern gets you to use the ‘burrito’ method to attach it. (I.e. roll it up really tightly to stitch one side, then roll tightly the other way to stitch the other side.) The result being a lovely, clean finish around both necklines and armholes. Beautiful!

And because I could, I finished off all the inside edges with Hug Snug seam binding. (Although I must admit wishing I hadn’t gone for such a contrast colour, as it shows through the yellow a bit around the edge of the facing. Whoops!)

Yellow Sway dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

As for changes I’d make next time? Only a couple of things, really. I prefer the vee neckline at the front, but it stretched out pretty quick (or else it was always pretty low) on this dress, so next time I’d stabilise it before stitching it, and possibly raise it up a little bit. (Main issue – when I lean forward you can see right down the dress. Oops!) I’d also topstitch the facing down around both necklines – the pattern calls for understitching, but with the width of the neckline and this pattern working best in a drapy fabric, I found it wasn’t quite enough to stop the facing from rolling to the outside. Oh, and the other change I’d make? Add some length. Hah!

Despite this not being my usual style, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much I love wearing this dress! It’s perfect for warm weather, and for travelling. (Plus, it makes a great hiding spot for toddlers.)

Yellow Sway dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

And now, let’s finish off with some scenic shots. Just because we can. It was a beautiful sunny autumn day when we were out taking photos – warm in the sun, a little cooler in the shade, and the leaves not quite starting to change colour. (Back in mid-September, by the way. Like I said – I’ve got a bit to catch up on!)


Yellow Sway dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes


Yellow Sway dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The youngest child loved it there in the small park – he spent lots of time running off (necessitating us running after him as he ducked around hedges and snuck under trees and deliberately put small stones in his mouth while laughing at us).



Yellow Sway dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Typically, he also found one hole in the lawn and stood in it for a while. Because – child.

Yellow Sway dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

After the park we went wandering a little bit to find a gift store, and a supermarket so I could buy some Hungarian chocolate to take home and some amazing cake for us all to eat after dinner. (Yum!) Youngest one being a child, he decided part-way down a side street that he didn’t want to be carried. Nor did he want to walk. Stand-off ensued. *sigh*

Yellow Sway dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes


Agi pointed out this building tucked behind some of the others – it was the old fire station tower. Made of wood, and tall so they could keep watch for fires.


Rounded off the trip into town with a lavender lemonade gelato. Which was as amazing as it sounds. Yum!! Wish we had that type of ice cream here…. ❤

Yellow Sway dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Secret Santa sewing goodies

Oooh yay, now that Christmas has been and gone, I can do a show-and-tell of the lovely goodies I got from my Sewists Secret Santa swap! Exciting!!! 😀

Seriously guys, Kat has run this swap for the last couple of years, and it’s so much fun to take part in. It’s a ’round robin’ secret santa, which means that the person you’re being secret santa for isn’t the person who’s being secret santa for you, so the mystery remains. And then… you get sewing goodies! In the mail!! From another sewing person!!! Seriously, how awesome is that?!?

Anyway, wanna see what I got? (Because I feel the need to do a show-and-tell.) My secret santa, whoever they are, sent me such a lovely parcel of goodies.

Sewists Secret Santa goodies | Modern Vintage Cupcakes
Look at all the cute little parcels and the lovely card!

Sewists Secret Santa goodies | Modern Vintage Cupcakes
She made me a Christmas cracker!

Sewists Secret Santa goodies | Modern Vintage Cupcakes
Lots of fun things in that cracker – Christmas cupcake papers, ribbon with polka dots, three vintage buttons, and a vintage belt buckle. (Modern stuff, vintage stuff, and cupcake stuff, hah!)

Sewists Secret Santa goodies | Modern Vintage Cupcakes
Pretty pretty quarter (?) lengths of fabric – one with spots and cats, and one with cupcakes. So cute! I’m thinking these are destined to be feature cuffs, collars, pockets, something like that.

Sewists Secret Santa goodies | Modern Vintage Cupcakes
And in the little pink bonus parcel? A teaspoon from London, to add to my teaspoon collection! (So hey lovely secret santa, if you’re ever in this part of the world, come visit and you can have a cup of tea with ‘your’ teaspoon. 😉 )

Thank you so much secret santa – I love it all!! Now for a very important question – which thing to use first? Tell me your thoughts people, and I’ll make something using the most popular pick!

Radio silence

Yeah, it’s been a couple of weeks. Sorry ’bout that, folks. Christmas kinda happened. 😉

We headed away down south to my parent’s place for week, where there was lots of hanging out with family and not so much internet time. But never fear, there was still a bit of crafting being done.

There was a bit of pattern tracing….
Tracing the Alma and Belladone | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Some pattern cutting too….
Cutting a La Sylphide | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

A couple of bird Christmas decorations got made….
Yellow bird Christmas decoration | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

And I got brave, bit the bullet, and started my very first knitting-something-more-complicated-than-a-peggy-square knitting project!
Beginning a knitting project | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

But now, after a lovely time with family, we’re back home again.

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!

Pirate pants (arrr!)

Oooh yeah, been a while since I made anything for the Little Man, hasn’t it? But hey, maybe not all that long after all…. coz I made him some pirate pants back in September for a pirate party a few days before we went off on our holiday. Didn’t get any good pics of him in them then, so, you know, we had to get some pics at Lake Bled in Slovenia instead. (Oh, the things I do for this blog. I hope you all appreciate the huge effort into finding “interesting” photo locations. 😉 )

Anyway, these are from a pattern I’ve used beforeSimplicity 3766. Pretty simple, there’s just two pieces in total, and some elastic around the waist.

Pirate pants

I did get a bit lazy, though. (Have you noticed that sometimes it takes more effort to be lazy than it does to just do something in the first place? Yeah, this was one of those times.) My sewing machine and overlocker (serger) share a desk, and when I want to use my overlocker I just move the sewing machine out of the way and pull the overlocker into the right spot. This time, I couldn’t quite be bothered moving my sewing machine, so instead of doing my usual overlocked edge finish I french-seamed all the seams. Yeah, more-effort-being-lazy. As you do.

Pirate pants

Turns out this is a slightly odd pattern sizing – they’re a bit too short in the crotch depth, and way long in the leg. But hey, that’s ok. They still come up high enough over his butt, and we just turn the cuffs up on them. And I guess it means they’ll fit him a bit longer, since he’s got that good ol’ “room to grow” going on. 😉 And, you know, they’ve got cute skulls on them. So I reckon they’re pretty awesome, no?

Pirate pants

These pics were taken on the edge of Lake Bled while we were waiting for enough people to turn up so we could take a gondola over to the tiny little island. Our Little Man got rather fascinated by the chains holding the gondola’s onto the dock. Just like any good pirate, he was trying to figure out how to take off with a boat, I suspect. Aaarrrr!

Pirate pants

Blackcurrant Tiramisu

Yikes! Somehow it got to the second week of November, and I still haven’t posted about the third dress I made at the start of October! Gah.

Anyway, here ’tis. Along with some more glimpses of our holiday. 🙂

Blackcurrant Tireamisu dress

Yep, it’s another Tiramisu! Going along with the ‘flavours’ theme of naming them, I figure this one must be Blackcurrant. (Coz grape flavoured Tiramisu? Um, no. I don’t think so.) I did toy with the idea of licquorice flavour, due to the black-and-white contrast fabric, but decided they can just be thought of as chocolate sprinkles on top instead. (Excuse me while I go and eat some chocolate now… Power of suggestion, and all that.)

Blackcurrant Tireamisu dress

Since last time I made myself a Tiramisu I ended up having to take it in by pretty much a full size, this time I cut one size down – a 30 B. Which fits a heck of a lot better! Pretty much perfectly actually, except for one small issue – I didn’t realise it when I was making it up, but the bodice on the size 30 is shorter than the size 35 bodice. Which is a bit annoying, since the size 35 midriff was hitting at the right place on me, and now the size 30 midriff is too high, and as a result does nothing flattering to my bust…. *sigh*

Blackcurrant Tireamisu dress

Aside from that annoyance (which, once made, I can’t really do anything about!), I quite like this dress. I spent ages deciding which fabric combination to use – I was thinking of making one entirely out of the black-with-white-dots knit, with red-with-white-dots for contrast. But it made my eyes go funny looking at it, so I decided to have a bit of sympathy for the rest of the world. Heh.

And I have to say – the Tiramisu is great for travelling in! I took both my Tiramisu dresses on our trip, and wore them soooo much. Every long-haul flight we did, I was wearing a Tiramisu. They’re perfect for flights, and even more perfect for flights-with-a-toddler-who-is-still-breastfed. Comfy, practical, generally rather awesome. Seriously – if you’re flying long distance, make yourself one. You’ll be glad you did.

Blackcurrant Tireamisu dress

Since we were going to Milan for a couple of days, I figured I’d better save this Tiramisu for photos there. Tiramisu, Italy – yeah, bit of a no-brainer, right? 😉 The lovely Mel did suggest I get photos while eating tiramisu in Italy. And I wanted to, I really did. But when it came down to it, well, I actually don’t like tiramisu-the-dessert. So I ordered something else instead. 😉

Blackcurrant Tireamisu dress

Dress details:
Pattern: Tiramisu by Cake
Fabric: purple cotton-blend tshirting (had in stash for years and I can’t remember where I got it from), black-and-white cotton tshirting for contrast (also been in my stash for years, think it was about $6 per metre, can’t remember where from?
Size made: 30 B
Adjustments made: none, but next time I’ll lengthen the bodice by an inch or two. (Oh, I did omit the pocket. Again. I’m just not loving the pocket on knit fabric, really.)
Construction notes: made entirely on my overlocker! Gotta love that thing. 4-thread knit stitch for all seams. Cover stitch to top-stitch down the arm and neck bindings. I left the hem raw, as I like it better that way. Oh, and since the neckband of my last Tiramisu is too loose at the back of the neck, I stretched the neck binding a lot tighter when sewing this one, and just cut off the extra inch that I no longer needed at one end.

Blackcurrant Tireamisu dress

These photos were all taken in Milan, wandering around near the main shopping centre.

And just because I can, here are some more photos from the Milan part of our trip. Enjoy!

Playground in Milan

Checking out the playground across the road from our hotel

Sforza castle

Sforza castle

Peace Arch

Peace Arch (with Steve standing directly under it)

Fountain in Milan centre

Awesome fountain in the centre of Milan

Fabric shopping in Tokyo

After all that I’ve heard about fabric shopping in Tokyo, I couldn’t go there for a few days and not hunt out some craft shops, now could I?!? (Silly question, right?!)

Before I left, I went hunting online for where to go, and all the blogs I found and advice I was given pointed to two places – Tokyu Hands for all sorts of craft stuff, and Tomato in the Nippori fabric district for fabric. Luckily for me, my long-suffering partner let me indulge in hunting down those places – thanks, darlin’! 😉

First stop was Tokyu Hands. There are several of these stores around Tokyo, and we went to two of them. The first one, in Shinjuku, was really disappointing. (Even though our guide book said it was the best and biggest one….) There wasn’t really any sewing-related things at all – various jewellery findings, leather working stuff, and lots and lots of rows of iPhone 5 cases. (Turns out customising your iPhone 5 is a common hobby in Tokyo….) But no sewing stuff at all. *sad face* I left, wondering if maybe the craft boom had vanished from Tokyo, with sewing replaced by iPhone accessories….

Turns out that’s not the case, thankfully! We stumbled upon another Tokyu Hands in Shibuya, and much to my happiness it had a smallish but cute selection of buttons, trims, and other fun sewing things. Yay! (The good thing about buttons – they don’t take up much space in one’s suitcase, so it’s very very easy to justify buying a whole bunch of them as “souvenirs”….)

buttons and bias binding

Tokyu Hands haul – buttons and bias binding

They weren’t the cheapest buttons in the world though, so I was very good and only got three sets, plus some bias binding.

Metal buttons

Metal buttons with woodland creatures from Tokyu Hands – too cute to leave behind!

Bias binding

Printed bias binding from Tokyu Hands

wooden buttons

Wooden buttons from Tokyu Hands – toadstools and flowers!

And then there was the Nippori fabric district. Oh my! So many shops bursting with fabric and trims and other glorious things!!! Sadly (although perhaps luckily?!) our little guy wasn’t feeling all that well, so I didn’t have a huge amount of time to look around before we had to get him back to the hotel for a rest. I only made it into one store – the big Tomato store that everyone seems to recommend (second Tomato on the left when you’re walking away from Nippori train station. It’s got 4 floors, and a big display of 105-yen-a-metre fabric at the right of the street level floor). And can I just say – I was in fabric heaven!! So many glorious, glorious things! Floor after floor of them!!! And sooo cheap (or at least, super cheap compared to fabric in New Zealand). I wandered around happily for a good hour or so, trying to decide which ones were going home with me from the huge selection I wanted to get. (I’d promised my Other Half earlier that I was only going to get three lengths of fabric. He was so impressed with the selection at Tomato he didn’t bat an eyelid when I may have walked away with seven lengths in two bags….. *ahem* So much for that fabric-buying ban….)

Shopping at Tomato

Helping choose fabric at Tomato

Interestingly, there seemed to be a large selection of cotton/linen blends. (At least, I think that’s what they were? Next time, I’ll find out what the various fabric compositions are in Japanese beforehand so I can read the labels…..) Lots of block colour bright prints too.

Fabric from Tomato

Pretty fabric from Tomato – two linen/cotton blends, and a shirting weight cotton with little cats on it

I indulged myself a bit and bought some Echino fabric. Sure, you can get it over here, but it’s so expensive I’ve never been able to justify buying the stuff. In Tomato, it was less than half the price we pay for it at home. (E.g. the cotton ones were $10/m in Tokyo, vs. $32/m in Wellington.) And I’ve had my eye on the Buck print fabric for quite some time now, so I was determined to buy it if I could find it for a decent price. (Yay! Success!! 😀 )

Echino fabric

Echino fabric – including Buck print in black

(In fact, I may have started making the Buck fabric up into something already…. But you’ll just have to wait and find out what it’s going to be. 😉 )

But oh! There were so, so many pretties that I had to leave behind!! Next time, I’ll be taking an empty-as-possible suitcase with me, so I can fully indulge. 😉

Fabric that I didn't buy

The ones that got away….

The other great thing about going fabric shopping in Tokyo? Going on a quest for something that’s not in the usual tourist to-do list takes you to places you’d never go to otherwise, which can be quite fun. Adventures are great!

Strawberry Tiramisu

Everyone, I’d like you to meet my amazing, lovely, talented and gorgeous friend-who’s-like-a-sister: Agi.

Strawberry Tiramisu dress

Agi and her family are the reason we head over to Hungary every few years. I stayed with her family as an AFS exchange student, back when I was 18. Such an amazing year – I met lots of lovely people, made great friends, experienced another culture, and saw a totally different part of the world. Agi and her family are fantastic, and even though I only get to see them every few years, they’re such an important part of my life. Agi and I are the same age, so I kind of think of her as another sister.

So our recent big trip was all about going over to see them and introduce our little guy to them. (All the other places we went were just opportunity visits, since we were around those places anyway. 😉 )

Strawberry Tiramisu dress

Since I’ve been enjoying wearing my Raspberry Tiramisu dress a lot, I thought I’d make one for Agi as well. She lives on a farm and has a young daughter, so I figure easy-wash/easy-wear things are a good choice. (I know they are for me these days, with our young lad!)

Strawberry Tiramisu dress

After going on a huge hunt through my stash, I pulled out this gorgeous dark pink mid-weight tshirting, which I thought would look lovely with Agi’s skin tone.

Just like the last two, this Tiramisu was nice and easy to whip up. I did the entire lot using my overlocker – four-thread stretch stitch for the seams, cover stitch for stitching the neck and sleeve bindings flat. And I left it unhemmed, because for some reason I prefer the look of that on tshirting Tiramisus, and this fabric won’t fray.

Strawberry Tiramisu dress

Unfortunately though, even though I made it to Agi’s measurements, it’s ended up a bit too big. Boo! 😦 (Has anyone else noticed that with the Tiramisu pattern? I found the same when I made one for myself and ended up having to take it in by a full size….) Luckily, it’s an easy pattern to take in, and Agi has a sewing machine….

Strawberry Tiramisu dress

Aren’t the dog and cat cute? Agi and her husband live on a small farm, and they have all sorts of lovely and friendly pets. 🙂

And just because these photos were taken in Hungary, here’s a few more photos from our visit to Hungary…. (Coz, you know, I can.)

Agi and her husband took us on a day trip to Eger. We spent a few hours wandering around the town, visiting one of the biggest churches, the Turkish minaret, and Eger castle.


Walking through the streets of Eger

Church in Eger

Church in Eger

Painted church ceiling, Eger

Painted church ceiling, Eger

Eger from the minaret

Looking down on Eger from the top of the minaret

The following day, we went to Csongrad to visit Agi’s parents (who are also super lovely, and who were kind enough to have me live with them for a year). Imre (Agi’s father) took us for a ride on his river boat, along the Tisza river. So incredibly pretty, with all the trees changing colour.

Summer bridge over the Tisza river

Summer bridge over the Tisza river. It’s a floating bridge, and is only out for summer and early autumn, when there is low risk of floods.

Imre and I on his boat

Imre and I on his boat

I’m back!

Meiji Jingu shrine gate

Tokyo – cedar gate leading to Meiji Jingu shrine

Well, hello there! Nice to see you again. 🙂 Yep, that’s right – I’m back from holiday! And what a holiday it was – full of fun times, fascinating things to see and learn, great visits with lovely friends, and even a bit of sewing-related shopping here and there.

Boating on the Tisza river

Hungary – boating on the Tisza river

And no blog posts while I was away. Ah well. I had plans, grand plans, to post while on holiday. I had a laptop, a camera, things to post about. I’d made sure most of the places we were staying had internet connections. I figured I’d have a couple of hours each evening after our little guy went to bed. Yeah, well. Time and decent internet connections didn’t really happen at the same time. Ever. So no blog posts for a few weeks.

Ljubljana flower market

Slovenia – flower market in Ljubljana

No blog reading, either. Which also means – the sew-alongs list is out of date. Argh!!!! Since I’ve got nearly 4 weeks of blog posts to catch up on, it’s gonna take me for-evah to track down all the new sew-alongs, meet ups, and swaps that have been announced this month. So I was wondering – those of you who know about any, could you tell me about them in the comments? Pretty please? So I can update the list for those who use it. 🙂

Duomo details

Milan – details on the side of the Duomo

I’ve got a few posts in my head, all waiting to be transferred to the blog as time allows. Never fear though – I won’t be going all travel-blog styles on you. (Unless you want me to? If there’s a particular place/thing/whatever anyone wants me to talk about, lemme know and I’ll happily talk/share photos about it.) Although I may not be able to resist adding a pic or two from our travels to a post or two on other things. Because, you know, our trip was AWESOME!!!!! (<- true fact)

Shanghai street stalls

Shanghai – street stalls near Yu Yuan

So…. what’s been going on with you while I’ve been away? Tell me all the news! 🙂

The past two weeks

Hard to believe, but I’ve been off work on maternity leave for nearly two whole weeks now! Crazy. It doesn’t feel that long – probably because I’ve spent a very large proportion of that time resting and napping on the couch, haha. 😉

So much for all those plans of sewing and the like. Maybe next week, since baby isn’t showing any signs of wanting to come out into the world now. As of tomorrow, the little creature is officially ‘over due’.

Want to see what I’ve been up to the last couple of weeks?

I got my hair cut into a ‘middy‘ type style. It’s quite a bit shorter than I was anticipating (eek!), but part of that will be the curl pulling it up. It’s a lot more even now, and I’m looking forward to trying to style it into 1940’s inspired ‘dos.

Steve and I went for a drive up Kapiti Coast last week for my birthday (he took the day off to spend it with me – ain’t that sweet?) I indulged in my favourite shop up there (Superminx) and one of my favourite footwear brands (Minx) and bought these little beauties.

Aren’t they adorable?!? How could I not get them – they’re apple green with little apples printed all over them! I’m looking forward to being able to fit back into my 1940’s and 50’s style outfits so I can wear these shoes in the way they deserve to be worn.

And here we have my current favourite pastime – hanging out on the couch with a book. I’m spending a heck of a lot of time here these days.

Along with a cat.

(Or two.)

Finally, just because the ‘bump’ is 40 weeks today, here’s a 40-week bump photo for posterity:

Great Southern Lands (part 4) – the Catlins

I love the Catlins. Remote, rugged, a mixture of farmland and native bush (the native bush always looks like it’s about to win the fight for land). Little dirt roads that wind away to beaches and bays where you don’t see anyone else for miles. Bits of history dotted around, mostly covered by bush. Gorgeous.

We spent a day exploring the Catlins. And could quite easily have stayed there for a lot longer.

Hilltop cottage
We spent the night in the Hilltop cottage accomodation – a 1920’s cottage on a farm about halfway down the Catlins. (The photos for my Turkey pajamas and “Hey, Baby!” dress were taken there.) We got to wake up to the sounds of native birds, and look out over farmland to native bush and the ocean.

Matai Falls and Horseshoe Falls
The Catlins are full of waterfalls – the first ones we went to see were the Matai Falls and Horseshoe Falls, a nice 30 minute return walk that took us about an hour by the time we stood in softly dripping native bush, admiring both falls and listening to bird calls.

Purakaunui Falls
The Purakaunui Falls are probably the most visited part of the Catlins – they’re definitely one of the most famous parts. Another gorgeous walk through native forest to another beautiful (and bigger) waterfall.

We stopped briefly by the side of the road at Maclennan – a (very small) township (about 6 houses. Maybe.) The Catlins used to have a lot of sawmills – there was a railroad going through it to connect it to the rest of Otago and Southland. That railroad is now long gone. In Maclennan, the old station is still there, still wearing the classic yellow-and-burgundy paint, in a rapidly-overgrowing field with a bunch of rusting cars.

Along the main road
As we drove along the main road (and the only sealed road) through the Catlins, we encountered beautiful views, and flocks of sheep. Steve was rather excited to be driving through a flock of sheep – he’d never done that before.

Lake Wilkie
We walked around Lake Wiklie – a lake from the ice age, which lies there not connected to any other waterways. It’s an ecological reserve, it’s own little eco-system. The lake is slowly shrinking in size, as the native rain forest reclaims it for it’s own. It was a lovely, peaceful walk and we had the place all to ourselves – we took our time, and Steve look lots of photos. It was one of my favourite parts of the day.

Cathedral Caves
The Cathedral Caves are the other of the two most-visited and most well-known parts of the Catlins (the other being Purakaunui Falls). They’re large caves, accessible only at low tide, through a 30-minute walk through native rain forest and along a beach. We looked up the tide times the day before, so we knew when to go there – in the past, I’ve always been there outside of the 2 hours of low tide, and missed seeing them. The main cave is one big cave, that curves around inside the cliff.

That’s me, standing in one of the entrances to the main cave.

Inside one of the widest parts of the cave. It narrows down to a small corridor off one side to get through to the other half of the cave. Piles of seaweed litter the ground – we took a torch to help us pick our way over the seaweed in the dark.

Steve standing in the other entrance to the cave.

Niagara Falls
Way back when, some smart-ass surveyor named this waterfall ‘Niagara Falls’. When we got there, there was one other car with a couple of very confused tourists in it. Based on the name, they may have expected something slightly more dramatic than this….