One of the most varied walks in the region is the private Catlins Top Track (Nov–April only; 22km loop; t 03 415 8613, w catlins-ecotours.co.nz), which begins and ends at Papatowai and crosses sweeping beaches, farmland, privately owned bush and even a stretch of disused railway line, delivering fascinating geology, a great variety of flora and fauna and true tranquillity. It can be walked in a day (9–10hr) but is better appreciated in two leisurely days, spending the night in a converted 1960s trolley bus high up on a spectacular viewpoint; the bus comes equipped with one double bed and four single bunks, electric lighting, a gas camping stove with cutlery and dishes, a gas heater in winter, and its own water supply – there’s even a separate loo with a view. All walkers are given an excellent booklet that details each section of the walk accompanied by a map. Bring your own food, drinking water and sleeping bag.

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