Maps / Purple Brochure
A useful map to carry with you on your stay in the Catlins is the tear off map which can be picked up at various locations such as the Information Centres in Waikawa or Owaka or downloaded here:
Catlins Map - showing locations of attractions.
PDF Download (1.5MB)
Catlins Map - list of attractions and accommodation providers on map.
PDF Download (1.5MB)
Another excellent guide for your stay in the Catlins is the purple brochure which has information on accommodation, activities, the environment and a map. This is also available in i-Site visitor centres or here in pdf format.
Purple BrochurePDF Download (3.5 MB)
Heritage Trail Brochure
PDF Download (713 KB)
Visitor Information Centres
Catlins Info Centre & Owaka Museum
10 Campbell Street
The Catlins 9535
Phone: +64 3 415 8371 (Info Centre)
Phone: +64 3 415 8323 (Owaka Museum)
Fax:+64 3 415 8371
Catlins Nadir Outpost Visitor Centre
174 Slope Point Road
Ph/Fax: +64 3 2468 544
Email: Catlins Nadir Outpost
Waikawa Museum and Information Centre
604 Niagara-Waikawa Highway
1 RD Tokanui 9884
Phone: +64 3 2468 464
Fax +64 3 2468 461
Email: Waikawa Museum and Information
Invercargill i-SITE Visitor Centre
Southland Museum and Art Gallery
Private Bag 90104
Phone: +64 3 211 0895
Fax: +64 3 2184 415
Clutha i-SITE Visitor Centre
4 Clyde street
Phone: +64 3 4180 388
Fax: +64 3 4181 877
Email: Clutha i-Site Visitor Centre
The Catlins is situated on the lower south east coast of the South Island. Getting here is easy as you can either access the Catlins from Christchurch International Airport, Queenstown International Airport, Dunedin Airport or Invercargill Airport.
Many choose to fly to Queenstown or Christchurch and then self drive through some very scenic areas of the South Island before reaching the most scenic and unspoilt region of New Zealand, the Catlins.
Please refer to http://www.maps.aa.co.nz for driving directions.
Dunedin and Invercargill Airports are the main gateway airports for the Catlins. Both airports host regular scheduled services connecting Dunedin and Invercargill with most other New Zealand airports.
Dunedin Airport - http://www.dnairport.co.nz
Invercargill Airport – http://www.invercargillairport.co.nz
Please refer to http://www.maps.aa.co.nz for driving directions
Drive Times - Airport to The Catlins:
Dunedin Airport to Kaka Point – 1 hour
Invercargill Airport to Fortrose – 1 hour
Please be aware that there is no public bus or rail transport through the Catlins other than the Bottom Bus and the Catlins Coaster. These services run more frequently during the summer months. Check websites for timetables.
The recommended way to explore the Catlins is to self drive. Some activity operators also offer transport throughout the Catlins.
For approximate driving times and distances: Drive Times
The Bottom Bus is an off –the- bus experience taking in New Zealand’s best wildlife and wilderness areas on the Southern Scenic Route.
Your driver/guide will inform you of the best places to visit and is totally up to date with local wildlife behaviour.
Get- on, get -off the Bottom Bus wherever you like. Whatever your timespan we have a flexible option for your itinerary around this southern coast.
For the timetable go to www.bottombus.co.nz
The Southern Scenic Route
The Catlins is situated on the Southern Scenic Route and is the main touring route for the Otago and Southland region. The sealed highway allows you to access all the region has to offer by way of a scenic, relaxing drive. Additional tourist drives join the Southern Scenic Route to extend the scenic journey through the Catlins.
Take the coastal journey along the Southern Scenic Route and unlock secrets found only in the south of the South Island, New Zealand. From Invercargill travel north-east through the Catlins. Depending on your direction of travel, Dunedin marks the beginning or the conclusion of your tour of the Southern Scenic Route. The Southern Scenic Route now has completely sealed roads. Be aware that a few attractions require a detour off the main route onto gravel roads. Please check with your rental car company that you are insured on unsealed roads.
For more information http://www.southernscenicroute.co.nz
Tips for Travelling
- For the enjoyment and safety of others please limit vehicle use on beaches.
- Sheep and cattle on the roads – drive slowly and stay in your vehicle.
- Keep left, respect others,and pass stationary school buses at 20km/h.
- Reduce speed when driving on unsealed roads.
There is minimal cellphone coverage in much of the Catlins. Public phones are located in Owaka, Papatowai and Tokanui.
In An Emergency
For Police, fire,accident or sudden illness emergency - phone 111. Police - phone 555 from a cellphone.
A Police Station is located in Owaka.
For a conservation or wildlife emergency - phone 0800 362 468.
Q - Where is the nearest petrol station?
A - At Owaka, Papatowai, Tokanui or Fortrose.
Q - When can we see the Cathedral Caves or Petrified Forest?
A - At low tide or check the tide charts.
Please check the news page on this website or enquire at Information Centres for the latest information. The Cathedral Caves is subject to closure at various times.
Q - Where and when can we see penguins, sea lions, dolphins etc?
A - Yellow-eyed penguins at Curio Bay and Roaring Bay near Nugget Point - penguins are best seen in the late afternoon. Sea lions at Waipapa Point, Surat Bay and Cannibal Bay. Hector’s dolphins at Porpoise Bay, near Curio Bay. There are volunteer wardens at Curio Bay Holiday Park who can provide more information and a visitor information centre at Owaka. The Department of Conservation has an office in Owaka but this is not an information centre. Enquiries to DOC should be made to the Invercargill and Dunedin offices.
Q - We only have one day in the Catlins- what should we do?
A - There are bush walks and beach walks. Try to do some of each. Check our suggested Scenic Highlights and Must Dos.or One Day Itinerary and if possible try to expand your time here!
Q - Where can we buy food or have a meal out?
A - There are food outlets at Kaka Point, Owaka, Papatowai, McLean Falls, Niagara, Tokanui and Fortrose.
Q - Where is the nearest bank or cash machine?
A - Banks in Balclutha or Invercargill. Cash machines at Tokanui Tavern and the Owaka Four Square Supermarket. Limited cash vending at the Tokanui Shop.
Q - Where is the nearest cell phone coverage?
A - There is very limited cell phone coverage in the Catlins. Texting coverage is patchy until Invercargill.
Q - How close can we get to the wildlife?
A - Give them space and try not to make them feel threatened. For more advice check the Catlins Care Code.
Q - Where can we see the sun rise?
A - Nugget Point and Curio Bay are especially good.
Q - What is the best way to do the Catlins River Walk, and is it worth doing?
A - There is a car park at either end, so you can get someone to drop you off or pick you up, otherwise you need to retrace your steps. This is a pleasant inland walk through beech forest, beside the Catlins River.
Q - Does it often snow here?
A - We usually have several falls of snow each winter, but it doesn’t lie around for long.