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Southern Scenic Road Trip: Wildlife Safari Road Trip, The Catlins


Balclutha bridge @Martin Hayward Balclutha bridge @Martin Hayward

Balclutha is a vibrant service centre for the district. The mighty Clutha River dominates the town centre with its well known arched bridge crossing the massive river. The river was originally the river road into the area encouraging farming and offering gold miners access to the interior. Stretch your legs and walk across the bowstring arch bridge. As you depart from Balclutha the Southern Scenic brown roadside signs will be prominently displayed. Follow this route for the Catlins.

Balclutha Museum @NZ Museums

Balclutha two things to do on a whistlestop tour of Balclutha.

  • Blair Athol Walkway. Start the walk in the picturesque Naish Park and walk / cycle along the mighty Clutha with deep flowing river and a rhododendron dell (spring it is a must do) giving you a sense of the importance of the river to the region.
  • South Otago Museum houses an assortment of nineteenth century household and industrial artefacts. Lots of machinery for you and kids to wonder what on earth was that for.


Balclutha is home to several well stocked supermarkets, main street cafes where you can select goods for your hamper with treats for the road. Remember petrol stations are few and far between in The Catlins (Owaka has a transport fuel hub) otherwise you will be reliant on a full tank of petrol BEFORE you start the journey.


Kids have googled Dollyworld (private museum of plush toys, stuffed animals and dolls + handmade crafty goods) and want to visit. It appears the toy museum is now closed. The private home of Ross and Chrystle Collis was fully occupied with thousands of collected toys.

From Sinclair Wetlands rejoining SH2 towards Balclutha
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