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A highlight of the southern scenic route, the little-known Catlin coast offers scenic landscapes and dense temperate rainforest, home to many rare and endangered species of bird and marine life.

The varied natural landscapes offer scores of attractions for the visitor and a wonderful range of wildlife. From Curio Bay, with its petrified forest where 160 million-year-old fossilized trees can be seen at low tide and where you may spot the yellow-eyed penguin, to the Purakaunui Falls where an easy walk through beech and podocarp forest brings you to a spectacular waterfall.  

From one of New Zealand’s oldest lighthouses, at Nugget Point, where you may see more yellow-eyed penguins and New Zealand fur seals, to the southernmost point of South Island, Slope Point. Wherever you explore, keep an eye open for seabirds such as Australasian gannets and mollymawks, and threatened birds such as the fernbird and, in the forests, kakariki, tui, fantail and kererū. The forest is also home to one of New Zealand’s only two native species of non-marine mammal, the long-tailed bat. Hector’s dolphin can often be seen close to the coast while southern right and humpback whales may also visit on migration during the winter months.

View suggested itinerary

Key info

  • Ideal for viewing: yellow-eyed penguin, New Zealand fur seal, New Zealand sealion, New Zealand pigeon, yellowhead
  • Where: South Island, New Zealand

Wildlife trips

This wildlife location is featured in the following itinerary:

Kiwis & Whales Galore: South Island Self-drive

This self-drive of New Zealand’s South Island showcases dramatic scenery, from sandy beaches to picturesque snow-capped mountains. Highlights include cetacean-rich Kaikoura, the Otago Peninsula - home to the endangered yellow-eyed penguin - and Stewart Island for southern brown kiwis.

  • When to go: Sep-May
  • Duration inc. flights: 23 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £6,395 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea
Suggested accommodation is shown below. Please contact us for further recommendations.

Mohua Park Cottages

Located within the beautiful bush of south-east New Zealand, Mohua Park offers four cottages each positioned to offer complete seclusion whilst providing uninterrupted views over the surrounding rolling pasture, making it the ideal base for exploring the wildlife and scenery of The Catlins.