Florence Hill Lookout, The Catlins
Florence Hill Lookout, The Catlins

Te Akau Tai Toka | The Catlins

Catlins mapTe Akau Tai Toka The Catlins, the spectacular coastal stretch between Balclutha and Invercargill, boasts a rugged beauty and untouched quality that is magnetic. Here, you'll find a world of native forests fringed by high cliffs, deserted sandy beaches, sparkling bays, cascading waterfalls, hidden lakes, blowholes, caves, picturesque lighthouses and even a petrified forest. This place is home to various fauna, from native birds to seals, sea lions, dolphins, and penguins. The Catlins' natural landscapes are enthralling, and the wildlife is extraordinary.

The name "The Catlins" originates from Captain Edward Cattlin, alternatively spelt Catlin, a whaling captain. Captain Cattlin/Catlin bought a block of land in the area from the Ngāi Tahu chief, Tuawaiki, just one month before the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, the Treaty of Waitangi, in February 1840.

With its lighthouse perched on a spur of land, Tokata Nugget Point provides a breathtaking viewing platform, while Slope Point intrigues as the South Island's southernmost point. At Curio Bay (Tumu Toka), watch the outgoing tide reveal a 180-million-year-old Jurassic forest. Another must-visit lighthouse is the Waipapa Point Lighthouse, where you have a big chance of seeing sea lions sunbathing.

Travel inland to view the stunning McLean FallsPurakaunui Falls and Matai Falls, some of the most photographed waterfalls in the world. There are more waterfalls to explore in The Catlins, some more known than others.

Due to its exposed position, the Catlins' coastline sees some of the country's largest ocean swells, raising impressive waves that nowadays attract big-wave surfers but, in the past, have caused numerous shipwrecks. Some of the best surf spots can be found in The Catlins. Places like Tautuku Bay and Curio Bay are suitable for surfers of all levels; if you're more adventurous and into big wave surfing, head over to Papatowai, where you can ride swells over 10ft.

Walking tracks allow you to access these extraordinary scenic and historic sights. Short walks and longer tracks are scattered around the region, and most are accessible straight off the main road, making it a perfect stop when travelling along the Southern Scenic Route.

Discover The Catlins

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When planning your trip to the Catlins, make sure you check out this iconic and unmissable event!

Southland

The Catlins Stories

The Catlins Roadtrips

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Florence Hill Lookout, The Catlins
Florence Hill Lookout, The Catlins

Tour the Southern Scenic Route

4 Days

667 km

Anytime

All roads lead to paradise, and in this case it certainly looks like paradise. The Southern Scenic Route has been ranked as one of the top 10 touring routes of the world, and for good reason.

Couple at Waipapa Point, The Catlins
Sam Deuchrass

Romantic getaway in The Catlins

3 Days

Anytime

If you and your other half love an off the grid adventure The Catlins is the place to go for a romantic escape. Spectacular coastlines, rugged and untouched beauty, native forests, deserted…

The History Buff

3 Days

340 km

Anytime

The history of Murihiku Southland is rich and varied, with each part of the region embracing their own unique past. View lighthouses and whalers' sites, moonshine distilleries, and Victorian…

The Explorer

3 Days

400 km

Anytime

Get ready to unleash your inner explorer. Southland's pristine wilderness is known for its rare and unique wildlife and a “must do” for anyone who is passionate about the natural world and…

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Explore Murihiku Southland

Invercargill Central
Stacy Williamson

Invercargill

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Central Southland

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Mores Scenic Reserve Lookout, Western Southland
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