Waterfalls, walks and wonders in the Catlins

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Visit the famous Pūrākaunui Falls, walk the Catlins River Track, and see Jack's Blow Hole. Spend an amazing day exploring the beauty of the Catlins.

Spectacular waterfalls

The Catlins is blessed with some spectacular waterfalls. The most famous of these is Pūrākaunui Falls - a magnificent waterfall surrounded by bush that cascades 20 metres over three distinct tiers. The waterfall is a short walk from a side road off the main Owaka-Invercargill highway.

Nearby you'll find the small but beautiful Matai Falls. Further south-west, the 22 metre McLean Falls are a pleasant 40 minute walk into Catlins Conservation Park.

Catlins River Walk

Part of the Catlins River-Wisp Loop Track, this walk well-formed track has it all, from rushing rapids and spectacular views to rare birds and delicate orchids. Beginning near the Tawanui camping area in Owaka, the first part of the track leads you through native silver beech forest alongside the Catlins River. The five hour walk is a chance to see rare forest birds such as the rare mohua (yellowhead) and rifleman. With any luck you'll also see native parakeets. Beautiful lichen, fungi, moss and liverworts are a feature of the forest floor.

Four wire rope suspension bridges form part of the track, and - if you prefer something a bit shorter - sections of the track can be walked separately; as there are several entry/exit points along the way.

Jack's Blowhole

Another spectacular sight in this area is Jack's Blowhole, located in Tunnel Rocks Scenic Reserve. A large cavity that's 55 metres deep and 200 metres from the sea, the blowhole was formed after a large subterranean cavern caved in. At high tide during a swell, waves are compressed through the underground tunnel and explode out of the blowhole.

Lake Wilkie

At Lake Wilkie you can see a graduation of plant life, from mature podocarp forest at the beginning of the track to wetland plants at the lake's edge. During summer the red brilliance of flowering rata is stunning.