Owaka & Pounawea
In the heart of The Catlins, Owaka is the perfect place to explore this natural wonderland. The town’s Maori name means “the place of canoe” with a stunning stainless steel sculpture in the town centre, which has an estimated life span of 1200 years and was put up as part of Owaka's 150th anniversary celebrations. A 30 minute drive from Balclutha, you can explore the historic train tunnel at Tunnel Hill located on the way. The last train ride through the tunnel was in 1971. The tunnel now serves as a fun walkway, but be sure to take a torch! The Owaka Museum (Wahi Kahuika - the Meeting Place) is like walking through a 3D story book with tales of the areas rich past ranging from shipwrecks to moa hunting.
Jacks Blowhole, named after the Maori Chief Tuhawaiki (known to European settlers as Bloody Jack), is well worth a visit while nearby is the appealing Pounawea village, with its peaceful beach and bush walks. Neighbouring Surat and Cannibal Bays boast sea lions and make for great walks also. Motorists should take extra caution on the road to Cannibal Bay which is gravel and extremely narrow in places. South of Owaka, be sure to visit the majestic Purakaunui and Matai/Horseshoe Falls, which are only short walks from the respective car parks. Purakaunui Bay has the highest cliffs in The Catlins. For the experienced surfer, it is famous for its Big Wave season during winter, with some of the biggest waves ever ridden in New Zealand. Long Point (irihuka) is also worth a visit for the opportunity to view yellow-eyed penguin or just for a lovely stroll.