What To Do
Catlins Retreat Guest House in Owaka is an ideal base for exploring
Catlins State Forest Park is renowned for its spectacular coastal
scenery and wildlife. There are rocky headlands, sandy bays
and estuaries, waterfalls and lakes alongside forests of rimu,
kamahi and silver beech.
Yellow-eyed penguins nest along the coast and there's a wide
variety of other penguins and bird life. Seals, sea lions and
Hector's dolphins are commonly seen.
An extensive range of recreational activities includes swimming
and surfing - at Curio Bay you can even swim alongside dolphins.
There is also boating, kayaking, fishing (trout, flounder and
rock fishing), waterskiing, whitebaiting, duck shooting and
hiking available in the local area. Popular walks include the
five-hour-long Catlins Coastal Heritage Trail.
The Catlins area is rich in Maori history and visitors can get
a sense of this and other elements of the region's history,
including the significance of forestry, from the Owaka
information centre and museum. Click on Catlins
history for more details of the history of the area.
Forestry has always been a predominant land use in the Catlins
and more than 50 percent of the Catlins remains in native bush.
Nugget Point is the home of fur seals, Hooker's sea
lions and is a breeding ground for sooty shearwaters, shags
and yellow eyed penguins. It is a short distance by car from
Owaka and is a recommended excursion
A visit to the Nugget Point lighthouse is a must. The lighthouse
is a short walk from the car park at the end of The Nuggets
Road. Experience the wild seas and spot seals from the footpath
to the lighthouse.
Either on your way to or from the lighthouse, a stop at the
Roaring Bay penguin lookout is recommended. At the right time
of day from the shelter of the hide you can watch yellow-eyed
penguins make their way in from the surf up the beach to their
There are numerous picturesque beaches and things to see on
the road to Nugget Point so allow plenty of time to enjoy this
This beautiful unspoilt long sandy bay is home to sea
lions. You can get quite close but remember never walk between
a sea lion and the sea. The bay was named after the ship Surat
which was wrecked here in 1874.
Another home of sea lions. Named by Geologist Dr James
Hector after human bones were discovered in the dunes. The Sea
Lions are not the suspects!
The enchanting Purakaunui Falls are a cascading, multi-tiered
waterfall reached via a short forest walk off Purakaunui Falls
Road near Owaka.
Just a short drive from Catlins Retreat are the spectacular
Cathedral Caves. A must see while in the Catlins.