Get information about places to visit in the Catlins in New Zealand and see where exactly they are located on a map so that you can easily find them.
The Catlins is a green and luscious area in the southeastern corner of the South Island of New Zealand that is well-known for its waterfalls, beaches, and wildlife.
Below you will find a list of places you can visit in the Catlins. This list is not the full list of all of the places you could visit in the Catlins.
1. Purakaunui Falls
Purakanui Falls is located in the Purakaunui Falls Scenic Reserve.
To reach the waterfall, you must leave the main highway and drive on backroads – some of which are dirt roads. You can reach the falls from two sides.
The first option presents itself immediately after you cross the one-lane bridge that goes over the Catlins River. You should see a sign on your left that says “Purakaunui Falls 9 km”.
You can follow the road (Purakaunui Falls Road) that leaves the highway to reach the falls.
The second option is to continue driving on the highway until you see a second sign for Purakaunui Falls. This sign is smaller and less obvious than the first, but the road (Waikoato Valley Road and then Purakaunui Falls Road) that leads to the waterfall is much shorter.
There is a fairly large carpark alongside Purakaunui Falls Road where you can park. The waterfall is popular with tourists and the walk should take about 20 minutes (return).
You will be walking through a forest, which can get very dark, but the walk to the falls is fairly easy and suitable for wheelchairs. Purakaunui Falls is very photogenic, so make sure not to miss it.
Go to Purakaunui Falls in Google Maps.
2. Matai Falls
Matai Falls is located in the Table Hill Scenic Reserve in the Catlins.
The sign for the Matai Falls walk is next to the main highway about 18 km South of Owaka. The carpark is situated next to the road where the sign for the walk is located.
The walk is approximately 20 – 30 minutes (return).
The trail goes through a dark and dense forest, so there is not much light available, which is why it is best to visit Matai Falls late in the morning when the sun is higher in the sky.
Go to Matai Falls in Google Maps.
3. McLean Falls
The walk to McLean Falls leads you through a forest and takes about 40 minutes (return) to complete.
To reach McLean Falls, you must leave the main highway and follow Rewcastle Road for about 3 km to a carpark.
There is a green/yellow Department of Conservation sign on the left side of the road pointing towards McLean Falls and Rewcastle Road. Do not drive too fast, otherwise you might miss it.
However, 400 metres before you reach this point and when driving in Southern direction, you should see a brown sign on the left side of the road saying “McLean Falls 400 m on right”.
McLean Falls is a cascade on the Tautuku River and has often been described as the most impressive one in the Catlins region. The walk to the falls goes uphill, but is not extremely steep.
Go to McLean Falls in Google Maps.
4. Cannibal Bay and Surat Bay
The walk from Cannibal Bay to Surat Bay is a beach walk that follows a route along Cannibal Bay, up through sandhills, and then down again to Surat Bay.
You can find sea lions on both Cannibal Bay and Surat Bay. Waipapa Point is another popular area for sea lions to congregate. Please do not go within 20 metres of any sea lion.
The walk from Cannibal Bay to Surat Bay should take about 30 minutes (return). However, you could make it a much longer walk and walk till Newhaven.
To reach Cannibal Bay, drive South on the Southern Scenic Route. Just before you reach Owaka on the main highway and after you have passed signs for Tunnel Hill, you should first see a brown sign on your left saying “Cannibal Bay on left 100 m”, and then another brown sign when you reach the turnoff for Cannibal Bay Road on your left. Follow Cannibal Bay Road until you reach the coast.
The two beaches should offer you a good workout as well as some great photo opportunities.
Go to Cannibal Bay in Google Maps.
5. Old Coach Road And Tahakopa Bay Loop Track
The walk in the Tahakopa Bay Scenic Reserve starts at a carpark that is located on the Northern end of a one-lane bridge that crosses the Tahakopa River. You should see a Department of Conservation sign at the location.
This walk takes you through bush alongside the river bank to the river mouth and the beach, where you can decide to turn back and make it a 40-minute walk or continue along the beach (Tahakopa Bay) and then enter the bush again to make it a 3-hour loop walk. The walk is pretty flat, so should be relatively easy to do.
To get to the Tahakopa Bay Scenic Reserve, drive South on the Southern Scenic Route to Owaka, and then onwards to Papatowai. About 26 km (16 mi) from Owaka or 56 km (35 mi) from Balclutha, you should reach a one-lane bridge that crosses the Maclennan River about 2 km North of Papatowai.
Cross the bridge and continue driving on the highway until you reach a second one-lane bridge. This one crosses the Tahakopa River. You should see the carpark for the walk on your left just before you cross the bridge.
Go to Tahakopa Bay in Google Maps.
Other Places To Visit In The Catlins
6. Nugget Point
The walk at Nugget Point leads to a lighthouse that is perched on top of a cliff. And on the rocks far below, you can often see seals basking in the sun.
The path to the lighthouse is a gentle climb up that lasts about 10 – 20 minutes (return).
To get to Nugget Point, follow the sign for the Southern Scenic Route from Balclutha in Southern direction. When you reach the junction with Kaka Point Road, follow Kaka Point Road; the junction is well-signposted, so you should not miss it.
Continue following Kaka Point Road until you reach Kaka Point and then continue straight ahead. You should automatically get onto The Nuggets Road, which will lead you up the hill to a carpark for the Nugget Point walk.
Go to Nugget Point in Google Maps.
Note: This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm all details
directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.
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