Owaka is the Catlins' biggest town with a smaller population of 400 people. Lush rainforest, spectacular steep valleys, amazing sandy beaches and a large tidal lake surround this town.
Owaka means “the place of the canoe” in Maori, and the stunning stainless steel sculptured canoe which was put up to celebrate Owaka’s 150th anniversary has an estimated life span of 1200 years! The town has a few shops, cafes, a small supermarket and 24 hour petrol pump. Don't miss the 9 hole golf course by the Owaka river.
The Owaka Museum (Wahi Kahuika – the Meeting Place) is a must visit! It is like walking through a 3D storybook with tales of the Catlins area’s rich Maori and pioneering settler past ranging from moa hunting to shipwrecks.
The town is a short 30 minute drive from Balclutha. En route, stop in at the historic tunnel hill walkway, remember to take a torch! The last time a train travelled through this once working tunnel was 1971.
Neighbouring Surat and Cannibal bay are famous for their windswept beauty and a great place to see seals and sea lions. Do take care on the gravel road to Cannibal Bay.
Pounawea is quaint seaside village with scenic and peaceful walks through tidal wetlands and native bush. While you might see yellow eyed penguins at Long Point (Irihuka), Jack’s Bay is another nearby picture postcard cove with a number of holiday homes. If you are up for a challenge, take the walk to Jack's Blowhole which is 55 metres deep and just 200 metres from the ocean.
Further south of Owaka are the magnificent triple tiered Purakaunui Falls. The nearby Purakanui Bay has the highest cliffs in The Catlins, and is home to a popular Department of Conservation (DOC) camp site. If you are a surfer, check out the winter waves (some of the biggest ever ridden in New Zealand). DOC has another great campsite at Tawanui where you feel like you are really off the grid.
Please help protect our amazing spaces - check out the Catlins Care Code before you visit.
To find out more about this vibrant community, check out their website http://catlins.org.nz/