Owaka is a very small town in the Catlins region of New Zealand’s South Island. It is technically in the Clutha region South Otago, but is the nearest town to the Catlins and Southland. It is about three hours from Invercargill, at the very southern tip, or an hour and a half from Dunedin, on the east coast. Owaka is situated near a lot of incredible, remote surf beaches and hiking trails through the Catlins.
To get to Owaka, you need your own transport. It’s on the Southern Scenic Route, which is not a major highway, and therefore none of the buses stop in town. There are only a couple of backpacker hostels in Owaka, but there are also a few hostels in nearby Surat Bay or further along the scenic route, near McLean Falls and Cathedral Cave, about an hour away. There is a campground in Owaka which has a few hostel-style dorms, and there are also several guesthouses in town. Before heading out, make sure you visit Dolly World and Teapotland. If you’re curious about life in the remote Southland and Catlins farming communities, stop at the Owaka Museum.
Because of Owaka’s location on the southern coast, you’re likely heading to nearby Purakaunui Beach for some camping and surfing or you’re on your way into the rugged Catlins for hiking and sightseeing. Owaka is a great overnight stop between Dunedin and Invercargill so that you have time the following day to explore all of the nearby attractions.
One of the most popular spots on the south coast is Cathedral Cave; this is a short walk through native bush that deposits you on a wide, flat beach. Cliffs hide the entrance to the cave, which is exceptional in its height. It’s easy to feel like an ant inside. Because the entrance to the caves is in the sea, you must go at low tide. Famed Catlins waterfalls McLean, Purakaunui, and Matai Falls are all within easy reach of Owaka, as is Jacks Blowhole, Nugget Point, and Cannibal Bay.
Hi, I'm Jakob Lombardi,
the Hostelz.com local expert for Owaka hostels. Welcome.