This paper examines the obstacles and opportunities for cross-border (north–south) collaboration in the development of tourism in the Catlins – a peripheral destination in New Zealand. A macro–meso–micro framework is proposed for considering collaboration. At the macro-level central government policies of retreat and devolution are important in the Catlins, and have influenced the way that government agencies have engaged with the tourism-specific demands of a growing destination. At this level, both policy and associated resourcing are issues. At the meso-level, regional and local government, largely through resourcing and legislative impediments, are reluctant to commit to a fully collaborative cross-border planning and management model. While, at the micro-level, historical perceptions over what constitutes ‘the Catlins’, which attractions ‘belong’ to which community, and of who should be involved, also act as obstacles to be overcome. The extent to which the northern and southern authorities and communities feel that they have ‘ownership’ of the Catlins (in terms of individual attractions and as a destination) has posed challenges: to the way that the destination is marketed, to how the attractions are managed, to the level and direction of tourism investment by government, and to the way that tourism's impacts are either addressed or ignored.