About Catlins & Southland
Welcome to the Catlins (Te Akau Tai Toka in Maori), a coastal paradise that stretches south of Dunedin, from Balclutha to Invercargill.
The Catlins region is a true hidden gem, a haven for nature lovers. With its dramatic coastlines, enchanting forests, cascading waterfalls, hidden lakes, and abundant wildlife, the Catlins offer a truly magical experience.
Continue your exploration down South, starting with Waihōpai Invercargill, the commercial hub of Southland, also recognised as New Zealand’s “Classic Motoring Capital”.
Then board the ferry from Bluff across the Foveaux Strait to Rakiura Stewart Island, “The Land of Glowing Skies”. It is the southernmost and smallest Island of the three main islands of New Zealand. Rakiura is a haven for nature enthusiasts, a perfect retreat for those seeking peace, quiet, and adventure. Immerse yourself in the dense native forests, hike along secluded tracks, and discover the unique birdlife, including the elusive kiwi.
Highlights in the Catlins:
Nugget Point Lighthouse: Stand atop Nugget Point and witness the breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. The iconic lighthouse overlooks rugged cliffs and is surrounded by fascinating rock formations known as the Nuggets.
Cathedral Caves: Explore the colossal Cathedral Caves, a natural wonder with towering archways. Accessible during low tide, these caves provide a unique and enchanting experience.
McLean Falls: Immerse yourself in the tranquility of the Catlins rainforest and discover McLean Falls, a picturesque waterfall set amidst lush greenery.
Curio Bay: Step back in time at Curio Bay, where ancient fossilized tree stumps dating back 160 million years are revealed at low tide. Encounter local wildlife, including Hector’s dolphins, penguins, and seals.
Purakaunui Falls: Capture the beauty of Purakaunui Falls, one of the most photographed waterfalls in New Zealand. The multi-tiered cascade is nestled in a pristine forest setting.
Waipohatu Track: Embark on a hiking adventure along the Waipohatu Track. Traverse remote forests, cross suspension bridges, and enjoy panoramic views of the rugged landscapes.
Papatowai: Experience the seaside village of Papatowai, where you can enjoy peaceful moments by the beach and explore the quirky Lost Gypsy Gallery, adding a touch of whimsy to your journey.
Slope Point: Visit the southernmost point of the South Island at Slope Point. Endure the windswept landscapes and witness the unique, windswept trees shaped by the prevailing winds.
Tautuku Bay: Discover Tautuku Bay, known for its scenic beauty and birdwatching opportunities. The bay provides a tranquil setting for nature lovers and photographers.
Catlins River Walk: Take a stroll along the Catlins River Walk, offering serene river views and an opportunity to appreciate the natural beauty of the region.
Highlights of Invercargill & Stewart Island:
Queens Park: Explore this beautifully landscaped green space featuring themed gardens, walking paths, and the famous Invercargill Water Tower.
E Hayes and Sons: The World’s Fastest Indian: Visit the E Hayes and Sons hardware store to see the original “World’s Fastest Indian” motorcycle, famously ridden by Burt Munro. The store showcases a captivating collection of automotive history.
Bill Richardson Transport World: Explore the fascinating world of transport at Bill Richardson Transport World, where a vast collection of vintage cars, trucks, and transport memorabilia awaits.
Bluff: Explore the nearby town of Bluff, known for its iconic signpost marking distances to various global destinations. Don’t forget to try the famous Bluff oysters!
Rakiura National Park: Embrace the unspoiled beauty of Rakiura National Park, covering 85% of Stewart Island.
Ulva Island (Te Wharawhara): Discover the ecological haven of Ulva Island, a predator-free sanctuary for native birds and plants. Guided walks unveil the island’s rich biodiversity.
Rakiura and Ulva Islands, a haven for birdlife: meet friendly Kākā and Weka, colourful Kākāriki, South Island Saddlebacks, little Blue Penguins, rare Yellow-Eyed Penguins Hoiho, and dozens of other native species. It is the only place in New Zealand where you can readily see Brown Kiwi in their natural habitat.
Oban (Halfmoon Bay): Explore the charming village of Oban, the island’s main settlement nestled in Halfmoon Bay. Experience local hospitality, enjoy waterfront views, and discover the island’s history.
Great Walk – Rakiura Track: Embark on the Rakiura Track, one of New Zealand’s Great Walks. This multi-day hike takes you through diverse landscapes, from forests to coastal scenery.
Mason Bay: Experience the remote beauty of Mason Bay, a pristine stretch of sandy beach. It’s a haven for birdwatching and solitude.
Stewart Island’s Dark Skies: Experience the unparalleled beauty of Stewart Island’s night skies. With minimal light pollution, it’s a perfect spot for stargazing and observing the Southern Lights (Aurora Australis).