On the southern coast of our district is The Catlins, where you can meet hoiho, the world’s rarest yellow-eyed penguin, and kororā, the world's smallest penguin. Visitors can view these amazing animals from many vantage points, enjoying their natural habitat. Plus you may get to see the planet's most endangered sea lions, fur seals, and the world’s smallest dolphin. Many of our district’s wildlife are facing rapid decline, so please respect their natural habitat, do not approach them, and keep dogs on a lead.
Thought to be The World’s rarest and The World’s most ancient penguins with just a few thousand in total, it is a special treat to spot these endangered penguins.
A reserve to protect 10% of mainland population was set up in 2007 at Long Point near Ōwaka in the Catlins. Roaring Bay Hide next to Nugget Point is another place you can spot the Yellow Eyed Penguins.
The Yellow Eyed Penguin known as a 'Hoiho' in Maori is so iconic that it features on the New Zealand $5 dollar note.
The world’s smallest penguins are found all along the Catlins coast nesting in caves and burrows. They fish close to shore and come in after dark and go out before dawn so can be tricky to see.
New Zealand sea lions are the most endangered and threatened in The World.
These large earless seals take their name from the male or bull’s nose which looks like an elephant’s trunk. It is used to make load roaring noises especially during the mating season, and is also used for saving water.
Exceptional males can be up to 6 metres in length and weigh up to 4,000 kg! Our Southern species are bigger than those in the North.
Ancient Podocarps rule the Catlins Conservation Area with Rimu, Mataī, Tōtara and Kahikatea with other species like Kāmahi and Rātā.
Silver Beech are found further inland.
What kind of marine wildlife can be found in The Catlins? The Catlins is home to a wide variety of marine life, including hector's dolphins, seals, New Zealand sea lions, and a number of bird species.
Can you see penguins in The Catlins? Yes, The Catlins is home to both yellow-eyed (hoiho) and little blue penguins, although sightings of these birds can be quite rare.
What are some good places to spot wildlife in the Catlins? Some of the best places to spot wildlife in The Catlins include Nugget Point, Roaring Bay, Surat and Cannibal Bays, and Curio Bay.
Are there any guided wildlife tours available in The Catlins? Yes, Lyndon from Catlins Tours offer guided wildlife tours in The Catlins, which can provide you with the opportunity to see some of the area's most unique and endangered species.
What should I do if I encounter wildlife in the Catlins? It is important to keep a safe distance from wildlife in The Catlins and not to disturb their natural habitats.
Where can I see sea lions in The Catlins? Sea lions can often be seen lounging on the beaches of The Catlins, such as Surat Bay, Cannibal Bay, and Nugget Point.
Where can I see yellow-eyed penguins in The Catlins? The best place to see yellow-eyed penguins in the Catlins is at the Roaring Bay penguin viewing hide.
What bird species can be found in the Catlins? The Catlins is a birdwatcher's paradise, with a range of species including the tūī, bellbird, kererū (native pigeon), kākā (forest parrot), and the rare New Zealand falcon.