Cathedral Caves and McLean Falls are on opposite sides of the main highway through Southern Otago – be sure to visit them both.
The Cathedral Caves are a series of sea caves on the Catlins Coast in New Zealand. They are one of the most popular tourist attractions in the area. The two main caves join together within the cliff, and one has a 30 m (100 ft) high ceiling.
The caves are only accessible 2 hours either side of low tide. Access to the caves from the road crosses private land, with a user fee being charged. A nearby eco-tourism camp, which opened in 2006, provides a convenient base for access to the caves, being located 600 metres from the entrance to the caves access track
At low tide you can visit Cathedral Caves, a series of majestic sea caves that have been formed by wave action over thousands of years. The journey to the caves begins with a walk through the forested Waipati Beach Scenic Reserve to Waipati Beach. A short walk north along the beach leads to the caves.
The two main caves join together within the cliff, and one has a 30 metre high ceiling – test your singing voice, the acoustics are great. To ensure the safety of visitors, the access gate to Cathedral Caves opens two hours before low tide and is closed again two hours after, depending on daily sea conditions. Access to the caves is across private land, so there is a small charge.
There are many waterfalls in the Catlins region, and McLean Falls is one of the best. A bridal veil-like cascade over dark mossy rocks, the falls plummet more than 20 metres into a deep gorge.
Cathedral Caves Walk
- Track category Walking track
- Time: 50 min return
The Cathedral Caves Walk is managed by a group of landowners of Kāi Tahu descent. The caves are very impressive, as the sea has cut deeply into weaker sections of the cliffs and created caverns as much as 30 metres high. They can only be reached for an hour, either side of low tide. Tide tables are available at the Catlins Information Centre in Owaka, the Caves turnoff on SH92, and in the carpark by the start of the track.
The walk passes through the podocarp and kamahi forest of the Waipati Beach Scenic Reserve. After reaching the beach it’s another 10 minutes to the caves. When the tide’s right you can walk from one cave to another, though you should be prepared for wet feet!
From May to October access is limited to weekends and school holidays.
Access to the carpark is via a private road, signposted from the Southern Scenic Route.
Credits: Wikipedia, 100% New Zealand, DOC