Curio Bay/Tumu Toka and Porpoise Bay

Few places offer such scenic, wildlife and recreational values in one small area.

Southern Scenic Route

This is number 56 on the Southern Scenic Route Map.

Tumu Toka, translates to ‘hardened wood’ or ‘stump of wood’ - a reference to the ancient fossil forest with imprints of fallen trees and ferns from 180 million years ago, that can be accessed at low tide. From the camping ground there is access to Porpoise Bay, a popular swimming and surfing spot. During summer, you may see the rare Hector’s dolphin/upokohue swimming in the bay.


A small population of endangered yellow-eyed penguins/hoiho nest nearby. For their protection, dogs are not permitted at the fossilised forest or campground.

Southland's Short Walks

This is number 27 on the Southland's Short Walks Map.

It is not surprising that Curio Bay and adjacent Porpoise Bay are among Southland's most popular destinations. Few places in the world offer such a wealth of scenic, wildlife and recreational interest that is concentrated into one small area.
Note: Visitors to Curio Bay and Waipapa Point may be lucky enough to view wildlife. Please note guidelines for wildlife viewing below.

Petrified Forest Walk - 10 minutes return - walking track (partially easy access)

Petrified stumps, fallen trees and fern imprints from a 180 million year old fossil forest have become exposed on the tidal rock platform.
This internationally important site is accessible at low tide, although a viewing platform with interpretation panels provides the best vantage point.
This is an irreplaceable treasure and the rocks are strictly protected. Please leave it undisturbed for others to enjoy.
Note: No Dogs Allowed

Hector's Dolphin/Papakanua

During summer and autumn visitors can sometimes see Hector's dolphin/papkanua playing in the surf. When swimming or kayaking do not approach dolphins - they will come to you if they want to. Always enter the water at least 50 metres away from any dolphin. They have sensitive skins so do not touch them.

Yellow-eyed penguins/Hoiho

Lucky visitors may see yellow-eyed penguins/hoiho that nest around Curio Bay. They are very timid birds and will either leave the area or 'freeze' at the sight of people. Please give them space. Do not chase or follow them. Do not get between them and their destination.

New Zealand Sea lions/Rapoka

Sea lions are often found resting amongst the dunes and coastal tussock grasses. Dogs and people are seen as a threat by sea lions particularly if their escape route to the sea appears to be blocked. For safety reasons please keep at least 30 metres away from them.

Catlins Heritage Trail

This is point 7 on the Catlins Heritage Trail Map.

Curio Bay is the site of one of the world’s finest fossil forests. It is easily accessible at low tide, or can be viewed from a platform. Petrified stumps, fallen trees and fern imprints from the Jurassic period are 180 million years old. They are a national treasure and the rock face is a strictly protected area.


Curio Bay, 9884, New Zealand