Nugget Point is the Catlin’s famed lighthouse tourist magnet, probably the South Island’s most scenic lighthouse location. It’s the one with the rocky “nuggets” studding the sea just east of the lighthouse, seen on many a postcard/calendar/brochure. The location seems a photographer’s wet dream, as it’s super easy to capture the “lonely lighthouse on the wind-swept bluff” feeling, except for the gaggle of tourists that’ll often frustrate your foreground. Expect a crowd. Nugget Pt is scenically reminiscent of the North’s Cape Reinga, but that’s where the similarities end. At Cape Reinga there are tracks and beaches to access and the fascinating spectacle of the two seas overlapping. Nugget Pt has no such offerings. It is basically a tourist photo-op spot with little else to offer—perfect for lessfit or less-adventurous folks, but dull for keen explorers. You do get to see seals swimming below, birds coasting overhead, and lots of kelp doing hula-like swirling around the rocky nuggets. Also, the drive itself to Nugget Pt is fairly scenic along the gravel coastal road from Kaka Point.
The absolute BEST time to visit to visit Nugget Pt is near 5-6pm, when the local Yellow-eyed penguins return to their nests in the little bay below Nugget Pt. This bay—Roaring Bay—gets its name from the ever-present wind, so come prepared. Roaring Bay supports a healthy population of YEPs that hop ashore and then waddle up to their nests every afternoon. There’s a Hide building on the hill above the bay which provides a nice sheltered view of where the penguins come ashore—bring binoculars.