This estuary is rich in birdlife and is also popular for fishing, boating, kayaking and swimming.

Royal spoonbill. Photo copyright: Rob Scotcher DOC USE ONLY.
Royal spoonbill


Pounawea Estuary is a special place where you can experience virgin podocarp forest rich in birdlife (including bellbirds/korimako, kererū and fantails/pīwakawaka), meeting saltmarsh and estuary.

It is home to wading birds such as royal spoonbills/kōtuku-ngutupapa and bar-tailed godwits/kauka which return to the sandspit near the mouth of the estuary each year. 

You may see New Zealand sea lions. 

The estuary is fed by the Ōwaka and Catlins rivers and is popular for fishing, boating, kayaking and swimming.

Getting there

Turn on to Pounawea Road at Owaka from SH92, the Southern Scenic Route.

Park your vehicle outside the camping ground and take the walk of 45 min (there is also a shorter bush walk of 15 min) through native bush and out to the saltmarsh and estuary.

Note: the saltmarsh section of the track is only accessible at low tide.

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