The Catlins River flows southeastward through The Catlins, an area of the southern South Island of New Zealand. Its total length is 42 kilometres (26 mi), and it flows into the Pacific Ocean at Pounawea, 28 kilometres (17 mi) south of Balclutha. Its upper estuary is called Catlins Lake, and its lower estuary is shared with the Owaka River.
The river’s source is west of Mount Rosebery, 15 kilometres (9 mi) southwest of Clinton.
At low tide, many migratory and resident wading birds can be seen in this large tidal lake. There are pleasant picnic areas on both sides of the lake and fishing is possible.
Surat Bay in the Catlins is quiet and peaceful spot, home to many sea lions, seals and native birds, all of which can be viewed in their natural environment.
There is a walking track on the Scenic Reserve at the mouth of the estuary and often sea lions can be seen on the beach..
Surat Bay was named after the sailing ship the “Surat” that was shipwrecked here on New Years Day in 1874.