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Southland, New ZealandThe Catlins Scenic Highlights

The Catlins | Regional Information | Activity Highlights | Scenic Highlights | History

In The Catlins, the scenery gets under your skin and into your soul. Explore wild coastal forests, see stunning cascading waterfalls and traverse landscapes that will stay with you forever.

The Catlins Scenic Highlights Overview

The Catlins is a place of wild rainforest, vast coastlines and diverse wildlife.

Find fur seals, Hooker's sea lions, southern elephant seals and several species of penguin along the coast.

The Catlins features dense temperate rainforest, dominated by podocarps. The forest is thick with beautiful trees such as rimu, totara, silver beech, matai and kahikatea.

» The Catlins Attractions Directory

Cathedral Caves and McLean Falls

At low tide you can visit Cathedral Caves, a series of majestic sea caves that have been formed by wave action over thousands of years. The journey to the caves begins with a walk through the forested Waipati Beach Scenic Reserve to Waipati Beach. A short walk north along the beach leads to the caves. The two main caves join together within the cliff, and one has a 30 metre high ceiling—test your singing voice, the acoustics are great.

To ensure the safety of visitors, the access gate to Cathedral Caves opens two hours before low tide and is closed again two hours after, depending on daily sea conditions. Access to the caves is across private land, so there is a small charge.

There are many waterfalls in the Catlins region, and McLean Falls is one of the best. A bridal veil-like cascade over dark mossy rocks, the falls plummet more than 20 metres into a deep gorge.

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Catlins River Walk, Purakaunui Falls and Jack's Blowhole

Image Source: Tourism New Zealand. Cannibal Bay, Catlins, Southland, New Zealand
Cannibal Bay, Catlins
Southland
Photographer: David Wall
(www.davidWallPhoto.com)

The Catlins River Walk, which begins near the Tawanui camping area, leads through native silver beech forest alongside the Catlins River. The five hour walk is a chance to see rare forest birds such as the mohua (yellowhead). With any luck you'll also see native parakeets. Beautiful lichen, fungi, moss and liverworts are a feature of the forest floor.

Not far from the Catlins River is Purakaunui Falls—a magnificent waterfall surrounded by bush that cascades 20 metres over three distinct tiers. The waterfall is a short walk from a side road off the main Waka - Invercargill highway. Other waterfalls are McLean Falls and Matai Falls.

Another spectacular sight in this area is Jack's Blowhole, which is located in Tunnel Rocks Scenic Reserve. A large cavity that's 55 metres deep and 200 metres from the sea, the blow hole was formed after a large subterranean cavern caved in. At high tide during a swell, waves are compressed through the underground tunnel and explode out of the blowhole.

At Lake Wilkie you can see the succession of forest development from lake edge to mature forest finishing at the reflection lake. During summer the red brilliance of flowering rata is stunning.

» South Catlins Travel Directory

» North Catlins Travel Directory

The Catlins Accommodation

The Catlins is a popular tourist destination and offers a wide range of accommodation options:

The Catlins Accommodation

The Catlins is a popular tourist destination and offers a wide range of accommodation options:

South Catlins Accommodation

North Catlins Accommodation

View more South Catlins Accommodation options.

Useful South Catlins Links

To help plan your South Catlins holiday choose from the main categories below:

To help plan your North Catlins holiday choose from the main categories below:

The Catlins Region Information

The Catlins Tourism Operators

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Featured

 
Mainstay New Zealand Hotels

Mainstay NZ Hotels

Large collection of independent hotels.

Choice Hotels

Choice Hotels

Holiday packages for any occasion.

Distinction Hotels

Distinction Hotels

Great hotels in great NZ wide locations.