There is an abundance of native wildlife in the bush and around the coast in Waikawa. Of outstanding importance along the Catlins coast is the Hoiho (Yellow-eyed Penguin) - the world's rarest penguin - which nest around the Curio Bay and Waikawa area.
Other native coastal birds include: Titi (Muttonbird), Te Koau (Black Shag), Kotare (Kingfisher) and Torea-pango (Black or Variable Oyster-catcher). The most common native forest birds include: Kereru (Native Wood Pidgeon), Tui, Korimako (Bellbird), Yellow-breasted Tit, Grey Warbler, Piwakawaka (Fantail) and Brown Creeper. Pukeko (Swamp Hen) are frequently seen around the harbour and in the wetlands near creeks and swamps.
Tucked in between the Waikawa Harbour and Curio Bay (Tuma Toka) is Porpoise Bay (Whaka Aihe), home to the Hector Dolphin (Papakanua), the world’s smallest dolphin and one of the rarest. These small dolphins are only 1.4m long, are distinctive by their black and white markings and pale, almost white colouring.
Two other marine mammals common to the South Catlins coast are the Rapoka (Sea Lion) and Kekeno (Fur Seal) often seen basking in the sun, on the rocks at both Curio and Porpoise Bays.
Nearby Scenic Attractions
Waikava Harbour View is close to many southern scenic attractions. Sights to see south of Waikawa include:
Porpoise Bay (Whaka Aihe) - home to Hector Dolphins and Yellow-eyed Penguins. It is also a regular resting place for seals and sea lions. Porpoise Bay is a safe swimming, snorkelling and surfing beach.
Curio Bay (Tuma Tuka) - is the site of one of the world's finest fossilised forest from the Jurassic period over 180 million years old. It is easily accessible at low tide or can be viewed from a platform. During the summer months there are guided tours over the petrified stumps and trees.
Waipohatu Recreation Area – two walking tracks and a picnic area have been developed on conservation land at the edge of the Waikawa Forest, one of the ten forests that make up the Catlins Forest Park;
• The Wheelchair Track is an easily accessible 20-30 minute walk.
• The Waipohatu main circuit Walking Track is a 1.5 hour walk past the Punehu (Misty) and Pouriwai (Darkwater) Waterfalls. It is a delightful sheltered track that passes through both logged and virgin podacarp forest edged by the Waipohatu Stream. The entrance to the Waipohatu Recreation area is off the Haldane – Curio Bay Highway near the turnoff to Slope Point road and is clearly sign posted.
Slope Point (Mata Tonga) - the most southerly point of the South Island of New Zealand.
Waipapa Point - scene of one of New Zealand's worst marine disasters with the sinking of the SS Tararua on April 29 1881 and The Waipapa Point lighthouse able to be viewed today.
Sights to see north of Waikawa include; Niagara Falls (Mangai Piri) - small waterfalls on the Waikawa River situated at Niagara.
Cathedral Caves, Chaslands Beach - spectacular caves that can only be viewed at low tide.
McLean Falls - 40 minute return walk through podocarp forest to magnificent cascading waterfalls.