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(17km from Purakaunui Falls) The main town of the Catlins was originally settled in the 1860s by timber millers and then followed by farmers as the bush was progressively cleared. Today Owaka comprises an information centre, museum, fishing, shops, restaurants, accommodation, tavern and petrol. An ideal location to spend some time exploring the nearby points of interest, Jacks Blowhole, Pounawea, Hayward Point, Surat and Cannibal Bay, Catlins Lake and Tunnel Hill.

Cannibal Bay / Surat Bay
Wonderful place to look out for New Zealand (Hooker) sea lions. The sailing vessel Surat was wrecked on this coast in 1874.

Surat Bay Wildlife Walk
This track, through sand dunes, is one of the best ways to experience the world's rarest sea lion ( NZ seal lion / whakahoa ). Please take care around sea lions. When you remain out of sight in the sand dunes, you will be able to observe their behaviour and how they interact. 30 minutes return.

Tunnel Hill
Easy walk to railway tunnel, excavated by hand between 1891-92, and lined with locally made bricks. Take a touch and please stay within the reserver boundaries. 20 minutes return.

Jack's Blowhole
Names after Maori chief Tuhawaiki (known to European settlers as Bloody Jack) Farm track leads to deep blow hole on the cliffs. The blow hole is 55m deep and 200m from the sea. It formed when the roof section of the large subterranean cavern, eroded by the sea. Open all year round. 60 minutes return.

Information Centres:
  • Catlins Info Centre & Owaka Museum

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