Catlins River Walk

Catlins River Walk



11 Rankers Reviews

9 Face-to-Face

19 Owaka

Online Maps



Time: 5 hrs one way, Distance: 8km

The well formed track begins at the end of the Tawanui Camping Ground and follows the true left of the river. The sections include; Tawanui to Franks Creek - 2.5 hr, Franks Creek to Wallis Stream - 1.5hr, Wallis Stream to The Wisp - 1 hr.

There is a bunch of mistletoe in the trees, which flowers in December/ January. This is the last major beech forest remaining on the east coast of the South Island. Some of the features of the walk are its many swing bridges, tranquil setting, a well maintained track and the beauty of the vivid green, moss covered beech forest.


Feature Value Info


South IslandSouthlandOwaka


  • Walking
  • Free


Angela Dixon's avatar

Angela Dixon

United Kingdom

Ranking: 8/10

I lived in Owaka for a year in 1992 and loved this walk then and still love it on my return to NZ.
If you don't have time for the whole walk then start at the Wisp. There isn't a campsite at that end so you'll have to drive there but on a 6km there and 6 back walk you go over 3 of the 1 person at a time metal swing bridges which are my favourite thing about this walk.
The highest and scariest swing bridge is about 3-4k from the wisp before the Wallis stream picnic area.
You see hardly anyone, there are loads of bellbirds singing to you in the rainforest as you walk and despite the recent heavy rain it is nearly all pleasant and dry underfoot.

Reviewed about 5 years ago

Stephen Timko's avatar

Stephen Timko

United States

Ranking: 6/10

We were repeatedly told to do this walk and afterwards we were not sure why. The river walk section was pleasant but not remarkable. The return section was a wide logging road with no real views until the summit which still was not very impressive.

Reviewed about 5 years ago and experienced in March 2016

Lopez Anandine's avatar

Lopez Anandine


Ranking: 8/10

Calm, wild, great.

Reviewed over 7 years ago and experienced in February 2014

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FlyingKiwiGirl's avatar


New Zealand

Ranking: 10/10

Excellent walk, well worth it. Beautiful scenery. Be aware that this is a 10 hour return tramp if you walk to the Wisp. Better to walk to the first swing bridge (Franks Stream) if you don't have a whole lot of time, it's a 5hr return walk. Be aware that there are many tree roots and climbing up & down steps. It is a quite strenuous walk if you are not fit. But it's well worth it if you have the time. Read my blog here;

Reviewed almost 8 years ago

Glenn Surzur's avatar

Glenn Surzur


Ranking: 10/10

Wonderful trek in one day.

Reviewed over 8 years ago and experienced in March 2013

Melvin Groenhof's avatar

Melvin Groenhof


Ranking: 7/10

A nice walk along the river with some cool views.

Reviewed over 8 years ago and experienced in February 2013

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Inge Davbbert's avatar

Inge Davbbert


Ranking: 10/10

A wonderful walk next to the Catlin River. The DOC campsite is very quiet.

Reviewed over 9 years ago and experienced in February 2012

Tadej Ferjan's avatar

Tadej Ferjan


Ranking: 7/10

Five hours long (one way). Not a lot of people, good marked, very beautiful walk.

Reviewed over 9 years ago and experienced in February 2012

Lieve Verdonck's avatar

Lieve Verdonck


Ranking: 7/10

Very nice 6 hour walk. Not very good signed, so use your navigation skills.

Reviewed over 10 years ago

Jeremy & Sarah Rind's avatar

Jeremy & Sarah Rind

United Kingdom

Ranking: 6/10

Lovely walk but no information on route and overgrown by gorse in parts - could have been more user friendly.

Reviewed almost 12 years ago

DOC Managed

Thanks to all the good people working for the NZ Department of Conservation - for all your hard work - making NZ more beautiful, accessable and healthy! Cheers 😍

Nick Morrison's avatar

Nick Morrison

Rankers owner