When you head to the Southern parts of New Zealand, there is a place with lots of dynamic and attractive things to do and to see, The Catlins. If you are the kind of traveller who wants to explore the unique and hidden place in New Zealand, you can’t miss this Catlins.
Catlins is located pretty much between Dunedin and Invercargill, which has very south of the south island, Bluff in New Zealand. So it’s easier and more fun to drive via Southern Scenic Route as public transport(intercity) isn’t a great option to maximize your adventure time.
Even though it’s a small town, tons of epic spots are spread, and it feels like new exciting things to see are always coming. That means, in Catlins, no time to get bored!
For me, 2-3 days was perfect for travelling there. So let’s take a closer look at a 2-day itinerary and 8 epic& free things to do!
It’s a slight uphill walkway but well maintained and easy to walk for everyone.
Time: 20minutes return to the carpark
Location: On the Nugget road, along the coast road from Kaka Point to the top Kaimātaitai carpark
Watching the sea lions
If you drive along the coast in Catlins and look at it carefully, you will happen to see sea lions. This area is their colony, and especially Surat Bay is known for having many chances to see them.
This Purakanui Falls is one of the iconic places, and you can’t miss taking a photo. The walkway in the forest is beautiful and relatively accessible. (just 15-20 minutes return from Carpark)
After raining, these 3D falls would be more dynamic. Please make sure to put the proper shoes on as some places are wet to slip!
Location: Purakanui falls road
Another one of the stunning falls in Catlins, having 22 metres high, is this McLean Falls. It’s very interesting to see the falls of different shapes, hugeness, and what you think from watching it even in the same area.
Just a 40-minute drive from Prakanui Falls via the Southern Scenic Route, and nice to go camping to sleep and eat around here before exploring more in next day!
Recommended campsite is Prakanui Bay Campsite, but it’s a bit bumpy road on the way to the campsite.
Time: 40 minuteis return (2.1K)
Location: Chaslands highway
You’ll find some dark stuff of attractive shape stretching toward the bay once you get here. This is my favourite spot, Culio Bay in Catlins.
It teaches you what happened here as one of the most unique places remaining ancient fossiled forests in New Zealand.
You might have heard about animal fossils, but it’s incredibly rare to hear about and see the fossiled logs and stamps.
This fossilization happened 170 million years before and started with steady heavy rain falling on nearby ash-covered volcanos. It flooded hundreds of square kilometres and covered with the forest. The silica in this ash-covered water turned them into stones just for weeks or months, which is how Curio Bay was made.
You can see how this dynamic event happened in detail on the site. You can’t miss this one of the internationally rare spots on the way to Invercargill!
Time: 30 minutes to 1 hour
Location: Waikawa Curio Bay Road
Driving down to Invercargill
Invercargill is a small town located in the south part of New Zealand, having the most south spot, Bluff and Stewart Island.
It’s a really historic and beautiful town close to the harbour. If you plan to stay there for a while, I highly recommend you to go there on sunny days!
Taking a photo of the most southern town of NewZealand, Bluff
Knowing so good oyster and gateway to Stewart Island, Bluff is a great spot for taking photos with a signpost and walking around.
If you like running, walking, and bike riding, the track close to this sign spot is perfect to do some exercise, and rest from sitting and driving all day.
Camping at Orepuki Monkey Island
New Zealand is famous for a number of free campsites, and there are quite a few free camping sites around this area as well.
Suppose you are looking for a hidden and lovely campsite, Orepuki Monkey Island campsite is for you, which is also my favourite campsite in New Zealand!
It’s free to use for all types of cars & vans and has plenty of spaces to park. As it is no water tab (apart from the toilet) on the campsite, make sure to bring enough water to cook, drink, and wash your hands.
The beach in front of the campsite is so beautiful. You can enjoy walking to the small Monkey Island, walking with dogs at a low tide, and watching the sunset.
In next day, you can head to the Orepuki beach cafe to get breakfast, where the staff are friendly!
Location: signposted between Colac Bay and Orepuki
Thank you for reading!
Thank you very much for reading this blog.
That is for 8 epic& free things to do in Catlins in 2 days itinerary.
I do hope this blog gets you interested in exploring the southern part of South Island, Catlins and Invercargill.
If you have any questions for me, feel free to leave comments below, and I will get back to you!