Top 10 Walks in The Catlins

The Catlins is home to lush rainforest. and rugged coastline. It is the perfect location to get off the beaten track, and reconnect with nature on one of The Catlins' top 10 walking tracks.

The majority of walks throughout The Catlins are short and family-friendly, taking you to iconic sites across The Catlins.

1. Nugget Point Lighthouse

Perched on a platform overlooking the sea, with panoramic views of the area's famous “nugget” rocks, the short walk out to Nugget Point is an easy, accessible walk suitable for the whole family. Nestled beside the viewing platform is the Nugget Point Lighthouse - one of the country’s oldest.

Difficulty: Easiest | Distance: 1.8km return | Duration: Under 1 hour


2. Cathedral Caves (seasonal)

A highlight of The Catlins, and renowned for its amazing acoustics, this natural wonder is located in cliffs along the northern end of Waipati Beach, south of Papatowai. The caves are only accessible at low tide so please check the Cathedral Caves website for the latest conditions and tide times. 

Difficulty: Easy | Distance: 2.6km return | Duration: Under 1 hour


3. Pūrākaunui Falls

This impressive triple-tiered cascade is one of New Zealand's most photographed waterfalls and has even been featured on a New Zealand 10 cent postage stamp - and for good reason! 

Difficulty: Easiest | Distance: 600m return | Duration: Under 1 hour


4. Catlins River-Wisp Loop Track

If you're looking for an overnight tramp in The Catlins, this is the one for you. This forest-lined river walk includes two, 12km routes, Catlins River, and Wisp Loop. With many entry and exit points along the trails, you can walk as little or as much as you like.

Difficulty: Advanced | Distance: Two x 12km routes | Duration: Overnight


5. Jacks Blowhole Track

While the blowhole is best seen at high tide with high swells, this 3km easy walking track has spectacular views across Jack’s Bay, Long Point and beyond to the edge of the nuggets.

Difficulty: Easy | Distance: 3km | Duration: Under 1 hour


6. Historic Railway Tunnel Hill Walk

A short walk filled with significance as the World's Southernmost Railway Tunnel - don't forget your torch!

Difficulty: Easiest | Distance: 360m | Duration: Under 1 hour


7. Surat Bay Beach Walk

Take a short walk through the sand dunes (at high tide) or leisurely stroll along the beach. Watch out for the 'locals', the New Zealand sea lions are often found lazing in the sunshine.

Difficulty: Easiest | Distance: 500m | Duration: Under 1 hour


8. McLean Falls Walk

Stretching 22-metres high, McLean Falls is the highest of The Catlins' waterfalls, with some saying the most spectacular in the Southern region.

Difficulty: Easy | Distance: 2.1km | Duration: Under 1 hour


9. Matai Falls Walk

A two-for-one special on this short walk - where you can take two routes, one to Matai Falls, or you can walk the old railway track to Horseshoe Falls.

Difficulty: Easy | Distance: 3km | Duration: Under 1 hour


10. Tautuku Estuary Boardwalk


This wheelchair accessible walk takes you across a boardwalk over the estuary and through podacarp forest. 

Difficulty: Easiest | Distance: 320m | Duration: Under 1 hour


But wait, there's more... check out our map of all tracks and trails across the Clutha District - click here.

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