Last Updated: 21st Sep 2023

Beginner - Intermediate

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Catlins River Track

Balclutha, Otago

Submitted by Kieran Philip

Last Updated: 21st Sep 2023

Beginner - Intermediate

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I've done it Done


Grunt Factor: 26 ?

Gnarl Factor: 34 ?








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Trail Map

Type of Run

Front country - easily accessible

Out and Back

Undulating, small hills only

Native bush

Plantation/exotic forest


Run Makeup


Easy Single Track

Moderate Single Track

Technical Single Track

Average Uphill Gradient: +5.2%

Average Downhill Gradient: -5.2%


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Estimated Times to Run







Starting at the Tawanui Campsite, follow the grass track from the signpost and head up river. The track is pretty straightforward, some nice single track with very few deviations from it. Where there are deviations, there are signposts pointing the way. Other times, there are triangle markers placed on various trees in case you need them.

The track heads up the river, sticking close mostly, but with a few excursions over smalls hills which take you away from the river for a bit. There are four nice single person swing bridges to head over on your way up the track. After the last swing bridge on the way out, the bush changes to forestry for a while as you near The Wisp area. Here there is a small camping area with table, toilet and a good place to be picked up if you don't fee like the double back. If you want the whole hog, turn back around and head home the way you came (there is also a signposted route up through the forestry roads via Rocky Knoll if you want something different).

Swing bridges to cross are always fun, mossy covered trails, native bush.

Lots of parking. Is rural and lots of campers around, so keep valuables hidden.

48 km

44 minutes





Thermal leggings, Lightweight fleece top, Windproof jacket, Gloves, Beanie/thermal headwear, Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Survival blanket, Cellphone, Map

Small streams/river, but you'd want to treat it before drinking.

Very wet when its raining and muddy underfoot.

Normal footing hazards, swing bridges (a friend from school slipped and got herself impaled many years ago, had to be removed by paramedics).

Trail Legend


Clare Gunton

has completed Catlins River Track once in the last year.

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Trail Reviews

Cool trail with lots of tree roots and moss and small undulations to keep it interesting, and while the pictures make it look same, same, seems quite varied while you're running - sometimes river is loud, sometimes gentle sound, etc. Yes, it is well marked, but somehow I still managed to miss the bridge at Wallis Stream πŸ€·β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈ and followed a grass track up instead, finding myself on the forestry roads. I just followed my nose and ended back at an access point back down to the trail after doing a little loop, so I'll have to come back to get my name on the completed list... πŸ˜‚

Kerri Dewe

December 2

Enjoyed this beautiful trail today and started at Tawanui campsite.
It’s absolutely stunning and mainly flat and runnable. Okay there are roots, fallen trees, some stairs but still 70% runnable terrain I would say.

My strava recorded 14.2k each way. So total of 28.4K.
Not sure why there is a discrepancy, but good to know that it’s actually longer (at least according to my strava) πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ

Easy to navigate as very obvious track and also markers throughout. Another plus is that the track is in the shade of the trees/ forest πŸ‘

There is absolutely no reception throughout the track which is important to note!
I got dropped off at the start, ran there and back and then had to continue on the gravel road back towards Owaka for about 7kt to the top of the hill for some reception (2.5k flat and then uphill from there). From here I continued for another 3k to the main road and back to Owaka.

Overall I did 42k in just over 5hrs (but got picked up 2-3k outside of Owaka, so if you want to run all the way back it would be around 45k I guess)

Stunning scenery- think enchanted forest, Lots of the Rings, Elves πŸ§β€β™€οΈβ€¦. Loved it!!!

I was planning on taking the Knoll Track (?) back which runs higher from Wisp End, however the track/ forest road was closed due to logging. Always check with I-site.
And I actually really enjoyed running it out and back

Highly recommend the Catlin River Track

Lara Brooker

January 15, 2022

Once you get into the rhythm of jumping over tree roots, it's a beautiful trail though the bush. Definitely worth it. When i ran it the Wisp loop was closed for forestry work, so do be prepared to do the out and back if needed.

Maggie Davies

January 28, 2020

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