Welcome to one of the country’s finest eco-destinations - The Catlins.

To experience somewhere remarkable and off the beaten path, The Catlins is a true highlight of the Southern Scenic Route.

The 100-kilometre stretch of coastline straddles the boundary between the Otago and Southland regions, and is home to lush rainforest, golden beaches, and diverse wildlife

You don't have to travel far to immerse yourself in dense virgin rainforest, abundant with native rākau (trees), triple-tiered waterfalls, and the soundtrack of the sweet song of the tūī and korimako bird. 

From the forest to the sea, the coastline boasts epic cliffs and famous sea caves, all part of the rugged splendour. Watching the world’s rarest penguins and dolphins playing in the surf, or witnessing fur seals and endangered sea lions lounge in their natural habitat, complete the stunning and serene experience.

Click here to view and download The Catlins Map and Care Code

Toitū te whenua – leave the land undisturbed. 

The Catlins is a pristine paradise and its local community appreciate that every visitor respects the area - let the Catlins captivate you.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is The Catlins, and where is it located? The Catlins is a scenic area located on the southeastern coast of the South Island of New Zealand, extending from the towns of Kākā Point to Fortrose, and crosses both Clutha District and Southland. It is a sparsely populated area with a rugged coastline, forests, waterfalls, and wildlife.

What are some of the top attractions to visit in The Catlins? Some of the top attractions to visit in The Catlins include Nugget Point Lighthouse, Pūrākaunui Falls, Cathedral Caves, McLean Falls, and Curio Bay. Wildlife watching, including yellow-eyed penguins, sea lions, and dolphins, is also a top attraction.

What is the best time of year to visit The Catlins? The best time to visit The Catlins is during the summer and autumn months (December to April) when the weather is warm and sunny. However, The Catlins can be visited year-round.

How many days do you need in The Catlins? We recommend spending at least 3 - 4 days exploring The Catlins. This can be extended to a week, or shortened depending on how long you have available. The coastline is over 100 km long, with plenty of activities along the way.

How long does it take to drive from Invercargill to Dunedin via The Catlins? You can drive between Invercargill and Dunedin along the Southern Scenic Route which takes you through the spectacular Catlins takes approximately 3 - 3.5 hours (250 km).

Is The Catlins' road sealed? The main highway through The Catlins is a sealed road. There are a few unsealed/gravel roads off the main highway (particularly out to Surat/Cannibal Bays; Pūrākaunui Bay and the road to McLean Falls), which can be narrow at points. We do advise you to take extra precautions when driving on gravel roads.

Is it possible to see wildlife in The Catlins? Yes, it is possible to see wildlife in The Catlins, including penguins, sea lions, dolphins, and fur seals. There are several wildlife viewing areas and tours available in The Catlins.

What are some recommended places to eat in The Catlins? There are several eateries throughout The Catlins, including in Ōwaka, Kākā Point and Chaslands.  Most food offerings are seasonal and it can be a good idea to check with The Catlins Information Centre or Clutha isite Visitor Information for updated details. 

What accommodation is available in The Catlins? There are many accommodation options available in The Catlins, including motels, bed and breakfasts, holiday houses, camping grounds and holiday parks.

How do I get to The Catlins, and what transportation options are available? The Catlins can be reached by car from major cities like Dunedin and Invercargill. The nearest airports are located in Dunedin and Invercargill, and rental cars are available at both locations. There are also tour operators that offer guided tours of The Catlins.

Can you swim in The Catlins? There are many bays and beaches throughout The Catlins where you can swim. These are all unpatrolled with the exception of Kākā Point beach which has surf lifesavers available over the summer. Click here for more information

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