Papatowai could be a tropical paradise with the rich rainforest sweeping down to the seashore but surreally it looks out to the southern ocean with Antarctica the next landmass.
There are gorgeous beaches either side of the beautiful tidal estuary, which comes alive when the red rata flowers spectacularly at the start of the summer.
You can enjoy plenty of scenic strolls through the native bush where the only thing you can hear is the delightful birdsong and distant purr of the roaring waves.
The Department of Conservation (DOC) have a delightful campsite behind the shop, which backs on to the estuary. There is also a 24 hour petrol pump.
Florence Hill lookout is the perfect place to see sensational Tautuku beach and peninsula with panoramic views as well of the lush rainforest. Nearby Lake Wilkie is a serene spot and the Tautuku boardwalk gives you a true taste of the surrounding wetlands in a natural ancient podocarp forest amphitheatre.
While majestic McLean falls, the highest in the Catlins is just past Cathedral Caves where towering cliffs soar skywards. They get their name from their amazing acoustics and because their size and grandeur is reminiscent of old world cathedrals. Nature is still very much the boss as you can only get to the caves at low tide.