Papatowai Beach

Clutha District

Papatowai Beach

Where the forest meets the sea! This is a really cool beach with very easy access. Every time I've been here it's been deserted. Lots of yellow eyed penguins hiding about and some petrified wood if you know where to look. There is a picnic ground here and also a DOC campground for $8 a night.


About half way between Dunedin and Invercargill on the Southern Scenic Route through the Catlins. When you hit the town of Papatowai, head to the beach.

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A lonely beach

While stopping at the Papatowai store to gather some much needed beer to soothe our transition of adventure to a more leisurely pace. We picked out some very fine brew and asked the host where the local campground was. Basically directly behind the store. It was a peaceful chunk of land nestled between podocarp forest and flax.

After setting up camp and Casey cooking up some great carne asada burritos, we jumped on our bikes and headed to the beach. Didn't take too long as we were right beside it. The Beach was flat with the odd trunk of drift wood, and you could see that high tide took the whole beach under the sea. Lucky for us high tide was not yet upon us. We set up some folding chairs and sat down for some beers. Not another soul was on the beach nor the beach on the other side of the Tahakopa River Mouth. After the sand flies found us, we walked around to the rocks on the far right.

We became aware of all the little eyes staring at us from little rock crevices, yellow eyed penguins were every where, hiding just out of sight. Casey sitting on the rocks for a picture almost got sucked into the ocean by a freak wave, pretty funny stuff. On our journey back we noticed some petrified wood scattered in the rocks and some other unusual objects. The beach starts right out of the forest and is very picturesque.

Bitten and relaxed - Stu