Top things to do

Top ChoiceNatural Feature in Kaka Point & Around

Nugget Point

Reach one of the South Island's most jaw-dropping coastal lookouts via the 900m Nugget Point (Tokatā) walkway. Wave-thrashed cliffs give way abruptly to sapphire waters dotted with toothy islets known as the...

Top ChoiceCafe in Papatowai & Around

Whistling Frog

Colourful and fun, the Frog is the best dining option in the Catlins, offering craft beer on tap and crowd-pleasing meals, often garnished with flowers from the garden. We're talking seafood chowder, wood-fired...

Top ChoiceCafe in Waikawa & Around

Niagara Falls

Located in a former Victorian schoolhouse, this excellent 'old-school' cafe puts the emphasis on local produce – free-range eggs, veggies from the garden, house-smoked salmon and spring water (fill your bottle)....

Top ChoiceLandmark in Curio Bay & Around

Slope Point

South Island’s true southerly point lies not in Bluff, as many mistakenly believe, but at the end of a 20-minute trudge through a cliff-side cow paddock. From the car park, walk towards the sea and veer left...

Top ChoiceGallery in Papatowai & Around

Lost Gypsy Gallery

Fashioned from remaindered bits and bobs, artist and 'organic mechanic' Blair Somerville's intricately crafted automata are wonderfully irreverent. The bamboozling collection inside a converted bus (free entry)...

Top ChoiceWaterfall in Owaka & Around

Purakaunui Falls

If you only see one waterfall in the Catlins, make it this magnificent cascade down three tiers of jet-black rock. It's an easy 10-minute clamber to reach the falls from the small parking area.Purakaunui Falls...

Cave in Papatowai & Around

Cathedral Caves

Cutting back into cliffs right on the beach, the huge, arched Cathedral Caves were carved out of the limestone by 160 million years of waves. Named for their acoustic properties, they are only accessible for two...

Museum in Curio Bay & Around


Incorporated in this new centre is a pleasant cafe (lunch mains $10 to $22, dinner $26 to $38), visitor centre and the Gateway, a modern museum with a multiscreen film experience describing the evolution of the...

Viewpoint in Kaka Point & Around

Roaring Bay

Your best chance of spotting rare yellow-eyed penguins (hoiho) is from a hide at Roaring Bay, 8km south of Kaka Point's main drag. The hide is accessible throughout daylight hours but suggested viewing times are...

Museum in Owaka & Around

Owaka Museum & Catlins Information Centre

Vaguely canoe-shaped in honour of the town name (Owaka means 'place of the canoe'), this modern museum is a pleasant surprise. Salty tales of shipwrecks are well explained in short video presentations, Māori and...

Waterfall in Papatowai & Around

Matai & Horseshoe Falls

Two falls for the price of one! A fork in the road leads you, on the left, to the graceful drop of Matai Falls, while stairs to the right bring you to water tumbling down the moss-clad U-shaped wall of Horseshoe...

Lighthouse in Curio Bay & Around

Waipapā Lighthouse

Standing on a desolate but beautiful point surrounded by farmland, this 13.4m-high lighthouse was built after the SS Tararua disaster, an 1881 shipwreck that claimed 131 lives.

Natural Feature in Curio Bay & Around

Petrified Forest

Marvel at the rare phenomenon of fossilised forest, extending south of Curio Bay. Preserved by silica in the ashy floodwaters that submerged these Jurassic-era trees, craggy stumps and entire logs create a...

Viewpoint in Papatowai & Around

Florence Hill Lookout

Three kilometres southwest of Papatowai, a short gravel road leads to sweeping Tautuku Bay, which can be viewed from on high at the Florence Hill Lookout. The glow isn't your imagination, it's the quartz content...

Modern NZ in Owaka & Around

Catlins Cafe

The best of the Owaka bunch, Catlins Cafe has something to tempt most palates: it's a motley menu of Moroccan lamb pies, vegan nachos, beef noodles and fish chowder. The evening menu is even more sophisticated,...

Waterfall in Papatowai & Around

McLean Falls

A lovely walk along wooden walkways and fern-fringed tracks brings you to the attractive McLean Falls, named for an early 20th-century settler renowned for his sheep-shearing abilities. Allow 40 minutes to walk...

Museum in Waikawa & Around

Waikawa Museum & Information Centre

A one-stop shop in a one-horse town, Waikawa's museum incorporates an information centre, acts as the reception for various local holiday rentals, and sells important stuff like newspapers and stamps. Its...

Pub in Kaka Point & Around

Point Cafe & Bar

A one-stop shop for souvenirs, takeaway fried everything or decent full-blown meals of blue cod or lamb shank (mains $19.50 to $29), the Point is best for a beer at a window seat facing the sea – try the locally...

Natural Feature in Curio Bay & Around

Fortrose Cliffs

For those who appreciate stomach-flutteringly steep lookout points, the Fortrose Cliffs are a worthy photo-op on a drive between Invercargill and the Catlins. They're 2km south of Fortrose township.

Landmark in Owaka & Around


Get a selfie in this wacky collections of teapots and statuettes arranged in Graham Renwick's garden.