Explore the history of the Catlins and base yourself in this pioneer settlement within close proximity of its waterfalls, beaches and forests.
As the largest town in the Catlins, Owaka offers an ideal starting place for your adventures in the region. With a population of just over 300 permanent residents, Owaka is hardly a bustling metropolis but its town centre features a historical museum, an information centre and necessary resources to venture into the untamed hinterland beyond. Make Owaka your base during your visit and you’ll find waterfalls, rolling pasture, dense forest and the Pacific Coast’s wild beaches, all within a day’s drive.
Owaka is nestled between the farms and forests of the Catlins’ inland landscape, removed from the icy winds of the coast. Founded by pioneers in the late 1800s, Owaka is a historic town. Local residents are proud of its heritage. Visit the Owaka Museum and the Catlins Historical Society to hear stories of pioneer settlers and Māori heritage and to learn about the abundant nature that surrounds Owaka. The Catlins Information Centre is a great place to pick up information about local attractions and to plan your journey along the Southern Scenic Route.
Spend a day exploring the waterfalls and forests that surround the town. Walk through dense podocarp forest to reach Matai Falls. See why Purakaunui Falls has become the face of the Catlins and photograph the stunning tiered cascading water at McLean Falls.
While located inland, Owaka remains an ideal base for exploring the coast, with Nugget Point, Cannibal Bay and the exciting Jack’s Blowhole all within driving distance. Watch as penguins clamber up the sand in the morning or look for fur seals and sea lions basking in the afternoon sun on the coastal rocks.
Owaka is located 110 kilometres (68 miles) south of Dunedin and can be reached in less than 90 minutes by car. Bus lines service the town. The town centre itself is small, allowing you to walk between its cafés, restaurants and accommodation with ease. Summer is the peak period. Make reservations to avoid disappointment.