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explore the beautiful beachesspot fur seals in CatlinsThe Catlins attractions
things to see and do

Things to do in The Catlins

The Catlins has many amazing experiences to share. Explore the beaches along the rugged coastline, stunning bush walks, and cascading waterfalls. Encounter rare and endangered native wildlife, such as yellow-eyed penguins (hoiho), New Zealand sea lions (whakahao), and the yellowhead bird (mohua) in their natural habitat. Spot fur seals on the rocks, or take a walk through the magnificent Cathedral Caves at low tide. Discover a 180-million-year-old petrified forest at Curio Bay and maybe catch a glimpse of the dolphins. The Catlins offers something for everyone!

Owaka is at the heart of the Southern Scenic Route and the gateway to the spectacular Catlins. It not only caters for the nature lover, but also the fishing, hunting and dining crowd. Owaka's local Information Centre is your one-stop shop for all you need to know about The Catlins and the museum has a great display of the region's pioneer settler and maritime history.

Use Owaka as your Catlins base and take a short detour from the Southern Scenic Route to visit the small seaside community of Pounawea or Surat Bay where the SS Surat was wrecked in 1874. Venture to Jack's Bay to take a short walk to Jack's Blowhole or head south and discover the Purakaunui Falls, New Zealand's most photographed waterfall cascading over a series of ledges amid dense forest of podocarp and beech, then move on to the stunning Matai and McLean falls.

Sea lions

Surat Bay and Cannibal Bay

View endangered New Zealand sea lions (whakahao).

Nugget Point

Nugget Point

Lighthouse built in 1869, seal colony, and great views over the nuggets.

Roaring Bay

Roaring Bay

View endangered yellow-eyed penguins (hoiho).

Tunnel Hill

Tunnel Hill

Walk a historic rail tunnel (take a torch).

Purakaunui Falls

Purakaunui Falls

A 20-minute return walk to a 20-metre high waterfall.

Matai Falls

Matai Falls

A 30-minute return walk to a 10-metre high waterfall.

Matai Falls Rail Trail

Matai Falls Rail Trail

A 1-hour return walk along a historic rail line.

McLean Falls

McLean Falls

A 40-minute return walk to a 22-metre high waterfall.

Lake Wilkie

Lake Wilkie

A 30-minute return walk to a peaceful, picturesque lake.

Cathedral Caves

Cathedral Caves

A natural wonder accessible at low tide (small road fee).

Tautuku Estuary

Tautuku Estuary

A 30-minute return walk through podocarp forest and along a boardwalk above the estuary flats.

Curio Bay

Curio Bay

An ancient petrified forest (approx. 180 million years old) of international significance.

Catlins River Walk

Catlins River Walk

A 1 or 2-day walk through native beech forest.

Sea Fishing

Sea Fishing

Along the rugged Catlins coastline.

Jacks Blowhole

Jack's Blowhole

A 1-hour return walk to a blowhole 100 metres inland from the sea.