"The Catlins" Catlins Lake by Robmj

Catlins Lake Travel Guide: 20 reviews and 30 photos

The Catlins area is on the east coast of southern NZ, right on the "border" between the Otago and Southland provinces.

It is a relatively undiscovered gem of true natural beauty combined with wildlife, waterfalls, a farming pioneering history and quaint relaxed charm that will leave you spellbound. Essentially the area is where native bush meets the coast.

Tourism is growing now and well signposted stops make the area easy to explore if you have transport. Accommodation and infrastructure (bars, cafes, shops) is developing but is still infrequent enough to allow you to feel the remote nature of the place.

There are around 20 designated stopping points on this part of what is known as the Southern Scenic Route.

Highlights include the ecclesiastical coastal formation of the Cathedral Caves, the McLean and Purakaunui Falls, the petrified forest at Curio bay and Nugget Point. There are numerous walks all over the area and it is very easy to spend several days and nights exploring the region. However, if you have a car, you can also easily cover the route in a day, limiting yourself to stopping at a few of the many highlights.

Get a map of the area but if you drive the route which runs between Fortrose (30kms from Invercargill) and Balclutha, you will easily see the stopping points from the signposts.

Working my way from south to north, points of interest include:
- Waipapa point lighthouse
- Slope point which is the southern most point of the South Island
- Curio Bay petrified forest which has one of the best fossilised Jurassic forests anywhere in the world
- McLean Falls, a 15m beautiful waterfall
- Cathedral Caves, where you will see seals living amongst the caves and the lovely Waipati Beach
- Tautuku Bush area, a number of points of interest amongst lush native bush
- Lake Wilkie, a 1.7-ha lake formed around 7,000 years ago
- Purakaunui Falls, an absolutely photogenic waterfall
- Jacks Blowhole, a staggering blowhole best seen in wild weather
- Cannibal Bay, a chance to see the monsterous sea lions, but don't get close
- Nugget Point / Roaring Bay, see the yellow eyed penguin colony and lighthouse set amongst some rugged coastline

Make the effort to visit this area, you will not be disappointed.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Stunning natural beauty
  • In a nutshell:The Catlins, a natural wonder
  • Intro Updated Sep 6, 2009
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