The Catlins

The Catlins is the southernmost part of the South Island.
Road map of the Catlins

The Catlins is a hilly, forested coastal area in the south-eastern corner of the South Island of New Zealand. Its attractions include coastal scenery, marine mammals such as fur seals, sea lions and rare Hector's dolphins, rare yellow-eyed penguins, native forest walks and birdlife, and the Jurassic fossil forest of Curio Bay. Much of the area is protected in the Catlins Conservation Park.

The Catlins are sparsely populated (even by New Zealand standards). The largest town is Owaka, with a population of 400. The North Catlins is the southern corner of Otago, and the South Catlins is the south-eastern corner of Southland.

Get in and around

Self-drive is the main way visitors get around. The main route into and through the Catlins is the Southern Scenic Route from Balclutha on the Otago side and from Invercargill on the Southland side. Petrol is available at Owaka and Papatowai in the North Catlins, and Tokanui and Fortrose in the South Catlins.

The Bottom Bus is the only public transport. It runs from Dunedin through the Catlins to Invercargill (not the other way) on M, Tu, Th, Sa, Su, departing about 8am and arriving about 7pm. It's a hop-on hop-off service, so you can spend nights in the Catlins and catch the bus again another day. It stops at Nugget Point, Surat Bay/Cannibal Bay, Owaka, a forest & waterfall walk, and Curio Bay. Cost is $225 (adult).



View from Florence Hill over Tautuku Bay and Tautuku Peninsula
Nugget Point and the Nuggets


In a sparsely populated rural area, outstanding dining options are few and far between. Two that may stand out from the rest are Niagara Falls and Whistling Frog.


North Catlins

South Catlins


Cellphone reception has been non-existent in much of the Catlins, but cell towers have been added in a few places in 2013–15.

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