Couple at Waipapa Point, The Catlins
Sam Deuchrass

A romantic getaway to The Catlins

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 sandy beaches, cascading waterfalls and amazing wildlife can all be found here.


3 Days

Best Time


Waipapa Point & Lighthouse

Alongside the often-photographed lighthouse on the point, sweeping golden beaches and snoozing sea lions are highlights of the area. The Waipapa Point Lighthouse was first lit on 1 January 1884. With its sibling, the retired Kaipara…

Day 1

If you're beginning your Catlins getaway from Invercargill, we recommend starting your day with a good breakfast at one of the many lovely cafes and bakeries in town, such as The Batch Cafe, The Auction House or The Grille. After fuelling up, it's time to hit the road, as many stops along the way are worth a visit. It's called the Southern Scenic Route, with good reason!

The Fortrose Cliffs are the gateway to this scenic road trip and the perfect photo opportunity with amazing views. The scenic road continues to Waipapa Point, one of the oldest lighthouses and a great place to encounter sea lions snoozing on the beach. Next up is Slope Point, the southernmost point on the South Island of New Zealand.

Adventures make you hungry, so it must be getting time for food and a good coffee at Niagara Falls Café, where they have a lovely garden where you can make yourself comfortable in a cosy corner. Once you're all fueled up again, make your way to Curio Bay. Here, you will find Tumu Toka Curioscape, an essential stop for all visitors to the south. It's a world-class interpretive centre intended to educate and share the unique stories of Curio Bay, its wildlife, its people, and its history.

The nearby Curioscape campground could be your stay for the night. Pitch up your tent and head to the swimming beach of Porpoise Bay for a romantic walk on the beach. If you're lucky, you may even spot sea lions, the rare Pahu Hector dolphins, and Hoiho yellow-eyed penguins! As the night sets in, snuggle up in the tent and have a good night's sleep for another adventure-filled day tomorrow. Don't feel like "roughing" it? There are plenty of cribs and holiday homes in the area.

Slope Point

Slope Point is the southernmost point on the South Island of New Zealand and is accessible via a 20…

McLean Falls

The 22 metre McLean Falls on the Tautuku River in the Catlins Conservation Park are often described as the most spectacular in the region. The 40-minute return walk to the falls, though uphill, is not too steep and very pleasant…

Day 2

It's worth getting up early to catch the sunrise over Curio Bay, or maybe you prefer to snooze a little longer. But don't sleep for too long, as there's heaps more to explore today!

Your first stop is one of the country's most iconic and photographed waterfalls: McLean Falls. Many couples have had their wedding photos taken here, as it's such a photogenic spot! Make sure you time it right to get to the Cathedral Caves, as it's only accessible at low tide. This outstanding natural feature can be found at the northern end of pristine Waipati Beach. Two sea-formed passages measure just 200 metres, and their impressive height measures up to 30 metres. When the tide's right, you can walk from one cave to another - but be prepared for wet feet! 
It's only a short drive from the caves to The Lost Gypsy, a one-of-a-kind gallery in the form of a house truck, home to the automata crafting of artist-tinkerer Blair Somerville. Wander through the garden and explore the quirky, wind-up, water-driven gadgets and gizmos. We guarantee you'll leave this place with a smile! 

Located in the heart of The Catlins, you will find Beresford Heights, a boutique accommodation surrounded by breathtaking views. Now, we know the day is far from over, but this place offers such stunning scenery from the top of Table Hill that it would be a waste not to come as early as you can! It's up to you two how you want to spend the rest of your day. Beresford Heights is the perfect retreat for a romantic and luxurious escape, with a lovely outdoor hot tub offering panoramic views if you'd like to sit there all afternoon and evening, by all means! For the more adventurous couples, you can catch a glimpse of traditional kiwi farming by taking a farm tour or watching working dog demonstrations. 

McLean Falls

The 22 metre McLean Falls on the Tautuku River in the Catlins Conservation Park are often described…

Nugget Point/Tokata & Roaring Bay

The 47 hectare Department of Conservation Wildlife Reserve at Nugget Point has dramatic views of "The Nuggets', rocky islets that surround the steep headland. These wave-eroded rocks, which are likened to the shape of gold nuggets…

Day 3

It will be hard to say goodbye to this beautiful place. Still, it's time to do the last stretch of this romantic road trip, starting with another iconic waterfall: the Purakaunui Falls—the perfect place to snap that Instagrammable couple's photo.

If you're looking for something new and creative to try as a couple, we may have the ultimate romantic experience. Have you ever tried horse riding together? Te Taunga Adventures offers adventure rides with stunning views suitable for anyone, regardless of experience.  

Jump off the horse's back and back into the car and drive to Nugget Point, a lighthouse with dramatic views of "The Nuggets", rocky islets surrounding the steep headland. The lighthouse is also the perfect platform to watch unique wildlife, such as the rare yellow-eyed penguins, gannets and sometimes even elephant seals.

From Nugget Point, it's only a short drive to Kaka Point, your final stop of this weekend. Kaka Point Beach is a popular summer location for swimming, fishing and surfing. On a less summery day, it's an excellent place for one last romantic stroll on the beach.


Romantic Getaways