Te Akau Tai Toka / The Catlins

Catlins mapThe Catlins, Te Akau Tai Toka, 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. These environments are home to an array of fauna, from native birds to seals, sea lions, dolphins, and penguins. The Catlins' natural landscapes are enthralling, and the wildlife is extraordinary.

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 which 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!


The Catlins Stories

The Catlins Roadtrips

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Tour the Southern Scenic Route

4 Days

667 km


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


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


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


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 the region

Invercargill Central
Stacy Williamson


Waihōpai Invercargill is the regional capital and commercial hub of Southland. Founded in the 1850s, it is New Zealand’s southernmost city - and one of the southernmost cities in the world. Numerous… Read More


Te Rua-o-te-Moko / Fiordland is a place of extraordinary scenic beauty. One of New Zealand’s oldest tourism drawcards, this rugged and remote region offers awe-inspiring landscapes and a wide range of… Read More

Stewart Island

Rakiura Stewart Island is the southernmost and smallest island of the three main islands of New Zealand. Just 30km from the South Island, it is a perfect retreat for those seeking peace, quiet, and… Read More

Gore District

Gore District, sometimes referred to as Eastern Southland, boasts an eclectic mix of heritage and culture. Famous for its fly-fishing on the Mataura River, its colourful illicit whisky-making past and farming… Read More


Southland’s port, Motupōhue Bluff, lies thirty kilometres south of Invercargill. The town, which is the southernmost settlement on mainland New Zealand, is home to the iconic Bluff Oyster & Food… Read More

Central Southland
Sam Deuchrass

Central Southland

Central Southland is 1.5 million hectares of lush, rolling farmland. The district has always thrived on agriculture, although sawmills, flax and linen-flax industries, lime works, brickworks and tile works… Read More

Mores Scenic Reserve Lookout, Western Southland
Sam Deuchrass

Western Southland

Tucked between the towering peaks of Fiordland to the west, the Takitimu mountain range to the north, and the wild ocean to the south, Western Southland boasts spectacular unspoilt scenery and limitless… Read More