In most conditions at Surat Bay, you will find a large colony of New Zealand Sea Lions (Whakahao) interacting or sleeping on the beach. This species is the world's rarest Sea Lion and is only now rebuilding its mainland population, after being hunted to virtual extinction over 200 years ago.
Take care around the sea lions! Keep a 20 metre distance from those that are active and at least a 10 metre distance around those sleeping. If you are in a group do not surround them and never block their access to the sea. If you stay out of sight in the dunes you'll be able to observe their behaviour and how they interact, young and old, male and female. In many instances they may be completely motionless - they are not dead! When sea lions come ashore after a major expedition at sea they are exhausted, so don't disturb them.
At Hina Hina on low tide, on the way to Jacks Bay, you can collect 150 fresh cockles each for dinner!
Also at Kaka Point on low tide, you are each permitted to collect 50 New Zealand mussels and 10 Paua (New Zealand abalone).
Plenty of fresh seafood for you to gather!
Please note: The minimum legal sizes are 125 mm for the black foot paua (Haliotis iris) and 80 mm for the yellow foot paua (Haliotis australis).
The Purakaunui Falls is one of Otago's iconic, most photographed sights.
The track through mature beech forest and then beeach and podocarp is suitable for wheelchair users to the top viewing platform. Frm there the track descends to give the view of the three tiered falls that's often seen on calendars and postcards.
There is a carpark, toilet and picnic area.
Purakaunui Falls can be accessed from two roads off the Papatowai Highway. Turn off onto Purakaunui Falls Road 6.30km south of Owaka, or alternatively turn off onto Warnock Road 10.8km south of Owaka. The Falls are signposted at both turn offs.
Yellow-Eyed and Little Penguins live on the Caitlins Coast. The yellow-eyed penguin can be seen at Roaring Bay (Nugget Point) during the hours of sunrise and sunset. This is a 30 minute drive from Surat Bay.
For a more unique and private viewing enquire about our tours.
Fur seals - many New Zealand fur seals can be seen from the Nugget Point Lighthouse (30 minutes from Surat Bay), although they are resident all around the Catlins Coast.
Birdwatching and Star gazing
Surat Bay and the Catlins Estuary attracts many birds native to the area. It's a beautiful spot to check out the wildlife - just ask to borrow our binoculars for a closer look. Kingfishers, tui and fantail are regularly seen from our windows!
Also the area is a perfect spot for stargazing - maybe even catch a glimpse of those Southern Lights on a crisp, clear winters evening. No light pollution and a clear sky make for the perfect spot to set out a blanket and watch the wonders of the Milky Way.
Don't forget to wish upon a shooting star!
Walk through bush and along the beach to explore the impressive Cathedral Caves, a highlight for visitors to The Catlins.
Located in cliffs at the northern end of pristine Waipati Beach, the caves have attracted international attention for both their length and the two sea-formed passages, measuring just on 200 metres, and their impressive height of up to 30 metres!
Access to this outstanding natural feature is by a 1km walking track that descends through the lush podocarp and Kamahi coastal forest of the Waipati Beach Scenic Reserve. Upon reaching the beach, it’s a 10 minute scenic stroll to the Caves.