The Catlins

Purakaunui Bay, the Catlins

One of several scenic bays in the Catlins, Purakaunui Bay is a great place to visit whether you’re planning to camp there or not. The camping ground is definitely a highlight (you’ll get great views from your van / tent) but there are also some stunning viewpoints on offer up the hill and the beach is a fun place to walk.

Purakaunui Bay

This rugged beach is surrounded by cliffs and there is some easy rock walking to do at the southern end. Apparently the surfing is good at Purakaunui Bay but you could say that about a lot of places in New Zealand. It’ll cost you $8 per person to camp at Purakaunui Bay. It’d be well worth it assuming the weather is good — there’s nothing like waking up to a great view seemingly in the middle of nowhere!

Purakaunui Bay, the Catlins, New ZealandPurakaunui Bay beach, the Catlins, New Zealand

Above the Beach

My favourite memory of our trip to Purakaunui Bay was walking up the road at the southern end of the beach. The views from up there are amazing — you’ll see the cliffs, the clear blue water and the coastline stretching off into the distance. There are several beautiful coastal viewpoints in the Catlins and this is definitely one of the best (not quite in the same league as the view about Tautuku Bay though — click on my post below to read more about it). I’ve also seen some cool photos from the opposite side — I have no idea how to get up there though!

READ MORE: Florence Hill Lookout and Tautuku Bay, the Catlins

Stunning view of Purakaunui Bay, the Catlins, New ZealandPurakaunui Bay from above, the Catlins, New Zealand

Purakaunui Falls

Purakaunui Falls, located a short drive from the bay, is one of New Zealand’s most famous waterfalls. You reach it via a short forest track and it should be close to the top of your Catlins itinerary. There are other waterfalls in the Catlins too, including McLean Falls and Matai / Horseshoe Falls.

Purakaunui Falls, the Catlins, New Zealand

Getting to Purakaunui Bay

From Purakaunui Falls Road turn onto Long Point Road and then Purakaunui Bay Road. Part of the way is along a gravel road but it’s in pretty good shape. A lot of people visit the Catlins on a day trip and miss places like Purakaunui Bay – definitely spend two or three days in the region if you can as there is so much to see.

Are you visiting the Catlins? Where are you most excited about going? Let me know in the comments below!

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Jon Algie

A travel blogger from New Zealand who has just returned home after 6 years abroad. Join me as I see as much of the South Island as I can.
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