Things to Do in The Catlins for Couples
Ruggedly beautiful, blissfully off the beaten track and with a dizzying array of natural sights, The Catlins is certainly an endearing destination for couples. There’s enough charm to provide an idyllic road trip with your loved one, whether it’s discovering breathtaking waterfalls, seeing the majestic coastal scenery by kayak or horseback, or watching cute penguins and sea lions. While couples will enjoy just about anything that’s available in The Catlins, we’ve listed some of the most romantic activities in The Catlins that will enhance the romance.
For more things to do in The Catlins for couples, take a look at The Honeymoon Guide to The Catlins. Plus, set the right tone with a romantic place to stay using the 7 Best Romantic Accommodation in The Catlins.
1. Watch the Sunset from the Tautuku Estuary
Although starting with how to end your day is a little confusing, a stroll to the Tautuku Estuary Boardwalk is too romantic to wait for. After a short walk through the forest, you’ll emerge on a boardwalk winding over the estuary flats where the vibrantly-coloured jointed rush gains an extra glow as the sun is going down. Also, listen out for the rare but noisy fernbird. The walk takes approximately 30 minutes return. Check out more natural attractions in the 18 Amazing Attractions You Can’t Miss in The Catlins.
Location: Signposted off the Chaslands Highway, approximately 6km (4 miles) from Papatowai.
2. Walk to the Picturesque Purakaunui Falls
Waterfalls are always a great way to woo your loved one, with some of the most picture-perfect falls in The Catlins being Purakaunui Falls. The three-tiered waterfall is the reward for walking an, admittedly, easy 20-minute walk through lush beech forest. You’ll follow cute footbridge over gentle streams along the way. See more free attractions like this in the 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in The Catlins.
Location: Purakaunui Falls Road, approximately 7km (4 miles) from Owaka.
3. Stroll Hand-in-Hand to the Majestic McLean Falls
Another waterfall delight and a must-do in The Catlins, McLean Falls has multiple cascades leading up to a plunging waterfall. The falls are on a 40-minute return walk along an easy trail winding through the forest, following the Tautuku with its moss-covered boulders and small waterfalls that are seen along the way. It’s is worth arriving early before the crowds to get some romantic holiday snaps!
Location: Rewcastle Road, approximately 12km (7 miles) from Papatowai.
4. Enjoy Some Cute Wildlife Viewings
If seeing cute wildlife makes your heart melt, then you have plenty of opportunity for watching penguins, seals and sea lions in The Catlins. A romantic stroll on the beach at Waipapa Point, Surat or Cannibal Bay often includes winding between New Zealand sea lions (giving them plenty of distance, of course). If you head to Roaring Bay or Curio Bay either before 9am or after 3pm, you stand a pretty good chance of seeing the elusive and rare yellow-eyed penguins waddling between their nests and the Pacific Ocean. Finally, seals are often seen on many beaches in The Catlins, but an almost guaranteed viewing is from the viewpoint of Nugget Point.
Location: Waipapa Point – Waipapa Lighthouse Road, approximately 16km (10 miles) from Fortrose. Surat Bay – Newhaven Road, approximately 9km (6 miles) from Owaka. Cannibal Bay – Cannibal Bay Road, approximately 12km (7 miles) from Owaka. Roaring Bay & Nugget Point – The Nuggets Road, approximately 9km (6 miles) from Kaka Point. Curio Bay – Mair Road, approximately 5km (3 miles) from Waikawa.
5. Do an Eco-tour with Catlins Scenic & Wildlife Tours
If you want to ensure a more successful wildlife viewing, access some landscapes of The Catlins that others don’t get to see, or actually learn about the places you’re visiting, join Catlins Scenic & Wildlife Tours, run by the couple who own Catlins Mohua Park that features in our romantic accommodation listings. They offer several eco-tours and ATV tours. With more than 20 years’ of wildlife-viewing experience in The Catlins, they offer you a high chance of spotting sea lions, penguins, seals, birds and more. Their Sunrise Tour is a good option for couples, taking you out at the most romantic time of day to see yellow-eyed penguins in a private location.
Location: Pick-up available or depart from Catlins Mohua Park, 744 Catlins Valley Road, Tawanui, approximately 15km (9 miles) from Owaka.
6. Admire The Catlins Scenery from Horseback
Another way to explore The Catlins with your loved one is on horseback, walking or cantering over lush farmland, beaches, hilltops, native bush and more. Catlins Horse Riding with Te Taunga Adventures offers one-hour to six-hour treks across their diverse 660ha farm incorporating an array of Catlins’ scenery. Whatever your experience or ability, they’ll ensure you have an as relaxed or high-powered day as you choose.
Location: 41 Newhaven Road, approximately 5km (3 miles) from Owaka.
7. Team Up on a Kayaking Adventure at Nugget Point
Nothing tests a relationship quite like working together to manoeuvre a kayak. If you’re beginners, however, you’re bound to pick up your rhythm soon enough, especially with the expertise of Catlins Kayak and Adventure. Join them for one of their coastal tours, helping you experience The Catlins for an alternative perspective and joining New Zealand’s sea lions, seals and seabirds in their element. They offer a sunrise tour and wildlife tours throughout the day, taking you to rocky islets that can only be scaled by kayak.
Location: The Nuggets Road, approximately 7km (4 miles) from Kaka Point.
8. Stop for a Seafood Lunch
Between the waterfalls and wildlife encounters, The Catlins hides a few hidden gems of dining in New Zealand where the seafood is a speciality. Treat your loved one to a romantic lunch or dinner at The Whistling Frog Cafe and Bar, a warm and charming restaurant with seating areas inside and out to enjoy flavoursome meals, from award-winning Kiwi savoury pies to craft beer-battered fish and chips. As the sun goes down, there’s no better place to be than The Point Cafe basking in Pacific Ocean views. Their seafood platter is a highlight and is ideal to share along with a Catlins Brewery craft beer or a regional wine. And for a relaxing cafe experience, enjoy the historical ambience of the Niagara Falls Cafe, recommended for a coffee and a slice on your way to or from Curio Bay.
Location: The Whistling Frog Cafe and Bar – 9 Rewcastle Road, Papatowai. The Point Cafe – 58 Esplanade, Kaka Point. Niagara Falls Cafe – 256 Niagara-Waikawa Road, Waikawa.