The natural unspoilt splendor of Southland claims visitors' hearts and thoughts like few other places. The character of the region is found in the landscape - the endless beaches, rolling green fertile plains divided by wide rivers that flow from mountains dusted with snow. Make your way through Southland via the Southern Scenic Route - a path that leads you from Dunedin through the Catlins, Invercargill and on to Milford Sound.
Invercargill is an ideal place to base your many Southland adventures from, and is also the cosmopolitan hub for the province. Art galleries, including the Southland Museum and Art Gallery housed in a pyramid, show off the talents of Southlanders while cafes and bars provide delectable cuisine and entertainment after the sun goes down.
The New Zealand icon, the Kiwi, is just one of the many native birds that can be spotted in their natural habitat on Stewart Island, which now contains Rakiura National Park, the country's latest national park and the only one on an island. Ulva Island (a 10 minute water taxi ride from Stewart Island) is an open bird sanctuary and a must for any visitor. Several rare and endangered bird species have been returned here and are breeding successfully. Excellent walking tracks, golden beaches, native plants returning to their full glory and the variety of bird life make this an unforgettable experience.
Spring is an ideal time to explore some of the roads less traveled in Southland. Take an eco-tour through the Catlins and experience the area with a guide. View wildlife in its native habitat, stunning scenery and untouched native bush with an historical and cultural interpretation. You could also self-drive yourself along the Southern Scenic Route, traveling from Dunedin, through Invercargill and on to Te Anau and Milford Sound. Take a flight on a Tiger Moth at the Croyden Aircraft Company at Mandeville, or toss in a line on the near-by Mataura River, known as one of the best brown trout fishing rivers in the world.
Walking tracks abound in Southland. For those who wish to be challenged by one of the newest tracks in New Zealand, Do the Hump - the Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track has various walking and helicopter options. Close by is Lake Hauroko, the deepest lake in New Zealand. Take an exhilarating ride across the lake and then travel 27 kilometers down the grade 3 Wairaurahiri River out to the Wild South Coast. This trip can also be incorporated with the walking track and helicopter tours.
There are plenty of walking tracks available on Stewart Island too. Ulva Island is a must see, and other activities include guided Kiwi watching experiences, kayaking and fishing charters. Events are also many and varied during summer in Southland, the highlight being the Hokonui Moonshiners Festival, held in February each year.
Invercargill and Southland shine during autumn. The region's most popular event, the Bluff Oyster and Southland Seafood Festival is held annually in April. This event is a full day of seafood, entertainment and fine Central Otago wines. If you can't make that and you are a seafood lover, make sure you get to one of the many seaside cafes around the Southland coast. Get your photo taken at the Big Paua (Abalone) shell in Riverton, after shopping at the arts and craft shops and don't miss the beautiful paua and jade jewellery outlets as well.
The natural unspoilt splendor of Southland claims visitors' hearts like few other places. Southland's character is found in the rugged and unspoilt landscape, endless beaches, rolling green plains and rivers flowing through mountains dusted with snow.
The Southern Scenic Route is the pathway that leads you from Dunedin through the Catlins, Invercargill and on to Fiordland. The road meanders through Podocarp forest, which sweeps down to long white beaches, past rugged coastlines, ancient forests, historic cities and towns and majestic lakes and rivers.
For those wanting things a little slower paced, attend some of the great arts events at the Winter Arts Fiesta. Gore is home to the Arts Precinct, which houses the Hokonui Moonshine Museum, as well as the Eastern Southland Art Gallery featuring the international art collection of ex patriot Dr John Money. It's also a good time to catch up with Henry, the 120 year old Tuatara at the Southland Museum and Art Gallery in Invercargill.
Leave your worries on the mainland and travel to Stewart Island. Visit Ulva Island, a unique predator free environment with an amazing variety of native bird life. Taste the abundant seafood, blue cod, Bluff Oysters, and crayfish.
Book Your Trip Today... Here's How
Learn about the different regions of New Zealand from the options above, then to check for airfares, contact the Air New Zealand Reservations team 1-800-247-KIWI(5494) book online, or call your local travel agent