The Catlins was one of my top destinations to visit in the South Island of New Zealand. Known for its numerous waterfalls, long stretches of beach, and beautiful sunsets, the Catlins is a not-to-be-missed destination of the South Island. This is how to spend 24 hours in the Catlins.
How to Spend 24 Hours in The Catlins
The Catlins is a roughly four hour drive from Queenstown, which makes it difficult to do a day trip. I booked an airbnb for two nights, and we drove from the Milford Sound. It was a long day of driving, and we got in late. We just enough time to make dinner and watch the sunset over the beach before going to sleep.
In the morning, we had a leisurely brekky at the airbnb and mapped out our adventure with the help of our host. We decided to drive all the way to the farthest place we wanted to visit and then stop at each destination on the way back.
Our rental car took us all the way to McLean Falls for our first stop. McLean Falls is the tallest waterfall in the Catlins, and is pretty impressive. I am a fan!
We stopped at the Whistling Frog on the way back from the waterfall for a spot of lunch. I asked about vegan options and the staff was super accommodating, making me a “veggie burger” (roasted veggies inside a bun).
Next, we had a quick stop off at Florence Hill Lookout. What a view!
Our next stop was The Lost Gypsy. Jenny, our Airbnb host, had described this magical place as a bus filled with little creations. Having no idea what that meant, we stopped in. I’m so happy we did, because this turned out to be a highlight of the day.
This old bus is filled with little creations that the owner has spent years and years making. It is a fantastic way to spend an hour. I could have easily spent an entire day in here.
A little coffee shop outside sells matcha lattes, coffees, and teas.
Don’t go to The Catlins without stopping here!!
Next, we headed to the famous Purakaunui Falls. This is the most well-known waterfall in The Catlins, for good reason. It’s a triple-tiered waterfall that is uber-photogenic. In the short time we were there, I saw at least five photographers with tripods and multiple lenses rock up.
One of the last, and best, stops was the Nugget Point Lighthouse. The lighthouse was what I was most looking forward to visiting, but I didn’t want to go until sunset. This area got the name “nugget point” because when the sun sets, it glows on these little rocks, making them look like golden nuggets. How cute is that?!
The sunset was magical at Nugget Point Lighthouse. It may have been made even more magical with a cheeky bottle of New Zealand Sauv Blanc and a little spotting of seals and penguins.
The Catlins is an amazing place in New Zealand, I would highly recommend making time for a stop. This was how to spend 24 hours in the Catlins.