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Colac Bay, Southland

Colac Bay, Southland

The southern coast of New Zealand, roughly the stretch of road between Invercargill and Tuatapere, is home to lots of beaches and bays, and Colac Bay is one of the most popular. There are some nice-looking holiday houses there and a couple of places to eat and drink – and the beach is pretty good too!

Getting to Colac Bay

Colac Bay is one of the first beaches you’ll come to after leaving Riverton. It’s around 45 minutes from Invercargill, 30 minutes from Tuatapere and 10 minutes from Riverton. The beach is reached via a short turnoff from the main road – there’s a road which runs pretty much the entire length of the beach but some of it was closed when we visited.

Colac Bay main road, Southland, New Zealand

What to See at Colac Bay

Colac Bay is a long stretch of beach and there are plenty of places where you can get close to the water. There are some picnic tables above the beach but there isn’t a lot else to see there. If you’re after a bite to eat you might want to check out Colac Bay Tavern, or you’re a short drive from lots of options in Riverton.

Colac Bay Beach, Southland, New ZealandColac Bay, New Zealand

We drove along to the western end of Colac Bay to see a different angle. There’s a place to freedom camp around there and some decent views back towards the eastern end of the bay.

Colac Bay, Southland, New Zealand

And that’s pretty much it. There is a cool bus stop to check out (it’s painted with cartoon characters from the Simpsons, South Park etc). If you want to spend the night at Colac Bay, you can check out bookabatch – there are a few options on there and I reckon it’d be a cool place to stay for a night or two while exploring Western Southland — or there’s a camping ground near the tavern.

Bus stop at Colac Bay, New Zealand

Other things to see nearby

The stretch of road between Riverton and Tuatapere is home to heaps of sights, including some great viewpoints. Popular spots include Cosy Nook (a cute little seaside village), McCracken’s Rest (awesome views over Te Waewae Bay), Monkey Island (a popular freedom camping spot) and Gemstone Beach (a beach with colourful stones). These places are all close to each other and you can see them all pretty quickly. From there you can continue through Tuatapere and then up to Lake Hauroko, for surely the best day walk in this area (the Lake Hauroko Lookout Track).

Lake Hauroko, New Zealand

Are you road-tripping around New Zealand? Check out our two-week South Island itinerary!

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Jon Algie

I'm a South Island local -- born in Timaru and raised in Dunedin. I left the island in 2006 and returned 10 years later. Having seen a good chunk of the world I realised how special this place is -- the most beautiful island in the world! Seven years (and almost 400 posts) later I'm still helping locals and tourists alike plan their trips around the South Island.