The Catlins is an incredible destination for those travelling in a motorhome, with stunning natural scenery and plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy. With this four-day itinerary of The Catlins, you'll be able to experience some of the area's most iconic attractions while still having plenty of time to relax and enjoy the great outdoors.
Day 1: Dunedin to Kākā Point
100 km, 1 hour 20 mins
Start your adventure by picking up your motorhome in Dunedin and driving towards Kākā Point. On the way, stop at Nugget Point, a popular attraction in the area, and check out the Nugget Point Lighthouse, where you can see fur seals, sea lions, and yellow-eyed penguins.
Once you arrive in Kākā Point, park your motorhome at the Kākā Point Camping Ground, which is situated just up the hill from the beach and offers facilities such as toilets, showers, and a communal kitchen. Take a walk on the beach, enjoy the sunset, and relax for the night.
Day 2: Kākā Point to Owaka
17 km, 20 mins
On day two, make your way to Owaka, a small town located approximately 25km south of Kākā Point. Visit the Ōwaka Museum in Owaka to learn about the local history and culture.
Surat Bay and Cannibal Bay are two beautiful long sandy beaches, connected by a track along the headland through the dunes. Both beaches are great spots for spotting sea lions and there is a colony at the northern end of Surat Bay.
There are two short walks in the heart of Pounawea - take the loop track through the bush of Pounawea Scenic Reserve, alternatively head through Podacarp forest and around the estuary and salt marsh.
Where to Stay
- Catlins Newhaven Holiday Park
- Pounawea Motor Camp
- Catlins Inn Cafe and Bar, Owaka
- Thomas' Catlins Lodge and Campground, Ōwaka
- DOC Tawanui Campsite
- DOC Pūrākaunui Bay Campsite
Day 3: Ōwaka to Papatowai
26 km, 25 mins
Day 3 is all about chasing waterfalls through The Catlins. Highlights include, the triple-tiered Pūrākaunui Falls, and Matai and Horseshoe Falls.
Papatowai, a small coastal village that's known for its scenic walks and stunning beaches. You can take a walk through the nearby forest to McLean Falls, a beautiful waterfall that's surrounded by lush vegetation. You can also visit the Lost Gypsy Gallery, a quirky art installation that features whimsical machines and gadgets.
In the evening, take a walk on the beach and enjoy the peace and quiet of this charming village and park your motorhome at:
Day 4: Papatowai to Curio Bay
88 km, 1 hour 10 mins
After breakfast, make your way to Curio Bay, one of the most unique and scenic spots in The Catlins. The bay is famous for its petrified forest, where you can see ancient tree stumps that date back to the Jurassic period. You can also swim and surf in Porpoise Bay, which is a popular spot for surfers.
In the evening, park your motorhome at the Curio Bay Camping Ground, which offers basic facilities such as toilets, showers, and a communal kitchen. Take a walk on the beach and keep an eye out for the rare Hectors dolphins, which are often spotted in the bay.
Top Tip: A trip to The Catlins is not without a visit to the famous Cathedral Caves, a natural wonder located on the Waipati Beach. These caves can only be accessed during low tide over the summer season, so make sure to check the tide times before visiting.
Tips for Motorhome Travel in The Catlins:
- It's important to note that some camping grounds may have limited facilities and availability, especially during peak season. It's recommended to book in advance to ensure a spot and to check with the camping ground for specific details on their facilities and amenities.
Plan Ahead: Make sure you have a clear itinerary and know where you want to go before you start your journey. The Catlins can be remote and cell phone coverage may be limited, so it's important to have a plan in case of emergencies.
Stay Safe: While the main highway is sealed, take extra precautions when driving on gravel roads.
Respect the Environment: The Catlins is a pristine natural environment that should be preserved for future generations. Respect the wildlife and avoid leaving any trash or litter behind.
Stock Up: Make sure you have enough food and water for your trip. Stock up in Balclutha before heading to The Catlins at one of the local supermarkets New World or Countdown, or there is a smaller Four Square Supermarket in Ōwaka, The Catlins.