It's rugged. It's sparsely populated. There is frequently wild weather and heavy ocean swells but it's home to scores of endangered birds and some of the most toughened, isolated and majestic scenery.
The highlights of the more than 1900 square kilometres include a petrified forest at Curio Bay. The forest is dated at around 180 million years old and was covered in ancient volcanic mud flows. Petrified conifer logs can still be found scattered around. There is also a yellow eyed penguin colony, the rarest of penguin species, southern right whales when they are migrating and native Hector's Dolphins, the smallest of the species.
The Cathedral caves are worth a visit. They are only 600 metres away for the park entrance but they are only accessible 2 hours each side of low tide and a flashlight is essential. Check with the Tourism park or look in the local newspaper for times. Once inside though the two main caves join together within the cliff creating a ceiling more than 30m high. There are shy native blue penguins and curious New Zealand fur seals in the area as well.
Purakaunui Falls is a postcard quality waterfall, 17 kms south west of the township of Owaka. The falls are15 metres long and consists of 3 tiers.
Nugget Point represents the northern end of the Catlins coast and it's home to many seabirds, including penguins,gannets and spoonbills, and a large breeding colony of fur seals. It is also home to the totally automated Nugget Point lighthouse.
The Catlins region is becoming well known for its big wave surfing due to its heavy swells with regular competitions being held.
The Area between Balclutha and Stewart Island.