The Catlins

The-Catlins-McLeans-FallsAbout The Catlins

The Catlins offers a glimpse of rural New Zealand set amid native forests, fringed by high cliffs and golden beaches. Here, you’ll find a world of waterfalls, including the tiered Purakaunui Falls, amongst the most photographed in the world. This spectacular coastal stretch is home to an array of marine life – sea lions are regular beach visitors, while dolphins frolic in the shallows. Keep your eyes peeled for the rare but distinctive hoiho, the yellow-eyed penguin. Nugget Point/Tokata, with its lighthouse perched on a spur of land provides a spectacular viewing platform, while at Curio Bay, watch the outgoing tide reveal a 180 million year old Jurassic forest – one of only three such accessible fossil forests in the world. Another low tide attraction is the Cathedral Caves. Etched by the sea over centuries, its entrance towers 30 metres above the beach.

 

Mountain biking in The Catlins

Nugget point

The Catlins Map

Catlinmap-2013

The Catlins Links

Townships in The Catlins

20 min return

The most southerly point on the South Island of New Zealand, Slope Point is a marked route across private farmland, giving good views of Stewart Island/Rakiura, Bluff and the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter.

Few places offer such scenic, wildlife and recreational values in one small area. Tumu Toka, translates to ‘hardened wood’ or ‘stump of wood’ - a reference to the ancient fossil forest with imprints of fallen trees and ferns from 180 million years ago, that can be accessed at low tide. A small population of endangered yellow-eyed penguins/hoiho nest nearby. From the camping ground there is access to Porpoise Bay, a popular swimming and surfing spot. During summer, you may see the rare Hector’s dolphin/upokohue swimming in the bay.

The Waikawa Museum has numerous displays relating to the early settlers and their industries of this once bustling port town. Short walk options include the Old Coach Road (20 minutes return, and only passable at low tide), and the George Aitken Walk (20 minutes return).

Activities in The Catlins

Shortened from the original Ma¯ori name of Waipapapa, meaning shallow waters, this is the site of New Zealand’s worst civilian shipwreck. In 1881 the SS Tararua ran aground on Waipapa Reef and 131 of 151 passengers and crew died. The lighthouse, built after the disaster, stands as a poignant reminder. Sea lions/whakahao can be found on the beach and amongst the coastal tussock.

15 min return

Signposted from the Waipapa Point Lighthouse Road, the walk is across private property (closed during the lambing season September/October). The ‘Tararua Acre’ is where many of the victims of the SS Tararua shipwreck are buried.

20 min return

The most southerly point on the South Island of New Zealand, Slope Point is a marked route across private farmland, giving good views of Stewart Island/ Rakiura, Bluff and the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter.

Ma¯ori legend has it that large hairy giants called Maeroero inhabited these valleys of bush. Two tracks in the area explore native forest. One easy walk (30 minutes return) is wheelchair accessible, and a larger hike (2 hrs each way).

Few places offer such scenic, wildlife and recreational values in one small area. Tumu Toka, translates to ‘hardened wood’ or ‘stump of wood’ - a reference to the ancient fossil forest with imprints of fallen trees and ferns from 180 million years ago, that can be accessed at low tide. A small population of endangered yellow-eyed penguins/hoiho nest nearby. From the camping ground there is access to Porpoise Bay, a popular swimming and surfing spot. During summer, you may see the rare Hector’s dolphin/upokohue swimming in the bay.

The Waikawa Museum has numerous displays relating to the early settlers and their industries of this once bustling port town. Short walk options include the Old Coach Road (20 minutes return, and only passable at low tide), and the George Aitken Walk (20 minutes return).

Niagara Falls was named by a surveyor with an obvious sense of humour! A special site called a nohoanga is situated on part of the Waikawa River nearby, signifying its importance for gathering traditional food for Kai Tahu whanau.

40 min return

The 22 metre falls on the Tautuku River are often described as the most spectacular in the region. The walk to the falls, though uphill, is not too steep and is very pleasant.

50 min return

Managed by landowners of Ma¯ori descent, a small entry fee is charged for maintaining the private road entrance and facilities. Access to the caves is from October to May and only at low tide. Please contact the Clutha i-Site for tide times to ensure access.

Contact Forest & Bird for access to this reserve that gives a chance to spot some very special wildlife – forest gecko, green tree frogs, and 16 types of native fish species. From the Tautuku Forest Cabins (available to book) three easy walking tracks vary in length between 1 - 3 hours. For more information see: www.forestandbird.org.nz

30 min return

This partly board walked track heads through podocarp forest to estuary flats, home to a population of fernbirds/matata who are often heard but seldom seen.

30 min return

A unique forest sequence is explained through a series of interpretation panels. Suitable for wheelchairs to the top viewing point.

15 min return to the beach

Walk from opposite the Outdoor Education Centre on the main Chaslands Highway, or drive to the beach picnic area via the narrow gravel Tautuku Beach Road. The beach is suitable for 4WD only.

This is a great place to stop and enjoy the spectacular views of Tautuku Bay and Tautuku Peninsula to the south; and Tahakopa Bay and Long Point to the north. It has become popular for ‘big wave’ surfing competitions.

40 min to 1 hr return

Popular walks in the Papatowai Scenic Reserve are suitable for all age groups. You may encounter yellow-eyed penguins/hoiho, NZ sea lions/ whakahao and oystercatchers/ torea on the beach. The Kings Rock Track and Picnic Point Track (wheelchair grade) areas start from Cross Street. Other short walks around the beach and estuary can be accessed via the picnic ground on the foreshore.

40 min to 3 hr return

Starting at the carpark at the north end of the Tahakopa River bridge, the track follows the old coach route from Tahakopa Beach through the southern-most stand of silver beech/tawhai and tree

30 min return

Walk to the waterfalls through the regenerating podocarp/broadleaf forest of Table Hill Scenic Reserve.

20 min return

A true icon of the Catlins, this is one of New Zealand’s most photographed waterfalls, gracing many calendars, postcards and book covers. The track is suitable for wheelchair users to the top viewing point.

The Catlins River-Wisp Loop Track includes two 12 km routes, the Catlins River Walk and Wisp Loop Walk. The routes can be walked in either direction and can be done as a 24 km two day tramp or one long day tramp. Sections of the track can be walked independently of the others, as there are many entry/exit points along the way. The Wisp Loop returns along the forestry roads and could be mountain biked separately. The Rocky Knoll extension track is a side route that runs off the Wisp Loop Walk, and is well worth the short climb to get the views and also see some nice sub-alpine vegetation not often accessible in the Catlins.

1 hr return

Named after the Maori chief Tuhawaiki (known to European settlers as Bloody Jack). The blowhole is 55m deep and 200m from the sea. It formed when the roof section of a large subterranean cavern, eroded by the sea, caved in. Please do not disturb stock.

45 min return

Ecologically important because of its rare vegetation, this walk offers virgin podocarp forest, rich in birdlife, and returns via a saltmarsh and estuary where wading birds can be seen. Each year godwits return from northern Asia to the sand spit near the mouth of the estuary. The saltmarsh area is accessible only at low tide.

30 min return

This track, through sand dunes, is one of the best ways to experience the world’s rarest sea lion (NZ sea lion/ whakahao). Please take care around sea lions. When you remain out of sight in the sand dunes, you will be able to observe their behaviour and how they interact.

20 min return

An easy walk to a 250m long railway tunnel, excavated by hand from 1891–92, and lined with locally-made bricks. Take a torch to explore the tunnel and please stay within the reserve boundaries.

10min return

This 47 hectare reserve is a breeding place for the yellow-eyed penguins/hoiho. These penguins are best seen from the Roaring Bay hide as they return from the sea in the evening. They nest in the native shrubland covered areas of the headland. Binoculars are recommended.

77 min return

A path leads to the lighthouse where, far below, NZ fur seals/kekeno, Southern elephant seals/ ihupuku, NZ sea lions/ whakahao, and yellow-eyed penguins/hoiho may be seen. Binoculars are recommended.

30 min return

This is an easy bush walk that seems very remote, yet it is almost within the township of Kaka Point.

40 min return

By using the foot access through a neighbouring farm and following a short loop walk, an outstanding example of lowland totara forest can be explored. Awakiki Reserve is signposted south of Telford Rural Polytechnic.