The Wonders of The Catlins

The Catlins offers a glimpse of rural New Zealand set amid native forests, fringed by high cliffs and golden beaches.

If you’re following the famous and spectacular Southern Scenic RouteThe Catlins is a ‘must do’ for visitors to the region, here you’ll find a world of waterfalls, coastal walks and outstanding dramatic scenery.

There are loads of activities on hand for those wanting to experience The Catlins with a guide. Click here to find some of the best outdoor activities.

Listed below you will find some of our top picks for The Catlins.

1) Waipapa Point
The historic lighthouse at Waipapa Point was built after New Zealand’s worst civilian shipping disaster in 1881 happened just off the coast. The lighthouse is still working today. A great spot to see sea lions you will often find them resting and frolicking along the sandy shores of the beach.

2) Curio Bay
Few places offer such scenic, wildlife and recreational opportunities in one small area. This idyllic bay is home to a 180 million year old petrified forest, Hector’s Dolphins and the rare but distinctive Hoiho, the Yellow-Eyed Penguin. Just down the road is Waikawa, a small fishing settlement is also teeming with wildlife.

3) Cascading Falls
The Catlins is home to some of the most photographed waterfalls in New Zealand. McLean Falls and Purakaunui Falls are a must do on your visit.

4) Cathedral Caves
The Cathedral Caves Walk is managed by land owners of Maori descent and for a small entry fee you can view some of the longest sea caves in the world. With caverns as high as 30 metres and at about 200 metres long, the Cathedral Caves are a true highlight. Please note, you must check seasonal opening and tide times with The Catlins Information Centre first.

5) Lake Wilkie
Take a short easy walk through tranquil podacarp forest and you will reach a peaceful lookout and boardwalk over Lake Wilkie. When the Rata is in flower it’s a photographers dream, as you will be treated to a feast of colour and birdsong as the native Tui and Bellbird enjoy the nectar.

6) Nugget Point
Nugget Point is great for wildlife viewing (take binoculars on your walk) including seals, sea lions and penguins. The walk to the lighthouse has stunning views of the roaring ocean, rugged surrounding landscape and vast skies.

7) Local Cuisine
Nestled through The Catlins are an array of cafes and restaurant offering their own unique flavours and twists on local produce – stop at the Whistling Frog Café & Bar or the Nigara Falls Café and try a whitebait fritter complimented by a local beer! If in Owaka The Catlins Café or the Lumberjack Restaurant are both great options.

Some great regional websites include:

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