Southland is a land of rugged coast and rolling plains, world-renowned Bluff oysters and the launching place for a visit to Stewart Island.

Southland’s largest centre is Invercargill. If you’re a garden lover you must see Queens Park and its 80 hectares of tree-lined walkways and diverse gardens. The city turns on the hospitality so, if you’re looking for somewhere to stay, you’ll find plenty of friendly and high standard accommodation.

Half an hour from Invercargill is the fishing port of Bluff. Known for its fabulous seafood, this is the place to taste the famous Bluff oysters. If you like bird watching, catch a ferry to Stewart Island where you’ll find a haven for native bird life and the only place in New Zealand where you have a fair chance of seeing kiwi in their native habitat.

Southland offers scenic mountain biking trails for all abilities. Cycle the highlands and discover fascinating gold mining heritage at Welcome Rock Trails, while the Around the Mountains trail winds through historic townships and pioneering relics and is known for its rural charm. Cycling in Southland is a great way to connect with friendly locals.

For encounters with rare and unique wildlife, head along the Southland coast to the Catlins. The Catlins River Walk leads you through beech forest and is known for its hidden waterfalls and rare native birds. At Curio Bay you’ll find fossilized trees, over 180 million years old, embedded in coastal bedrock. And at Nugget Point you’ll find fur seals, sea lions, sooty shearwaters, shags, yellow-eyed penguins, spoonbills and a breeding colony of gannets. And if you look closely, you may see Hector's dolphins frolicking out in the waves.

Some of The Many Attractions

Milford Sound

The road to Milford Sound is one of New Zealand’s most scenic routes; drive yourself or relax in a coach tour. Along the way look out for the Mirror Lakes with their amazing reflective views. Rough hewn Homer Tunnel brings you into the amazing 22km fiord of Milford Sound.

A boat cruise is the best way to experience the sounds; choose either a day trip or a more leisurely overnight cruise. Tall waterfalls, vertical rock faces and seals are some of the Sound's highlights. An underwater observatory is an option with most cruises, allowing you to see the fiord's fascinating depths.

If you've opted for a day cruise, head back to Te Anau for the night.

Nature & Wildlife

Untouched Southland is known for its rare and unique wildlife - you can expect tuatara, dolphins, whales and more.

Head to the Catlins to encounter some of the world's rarest wildlife - home to the Yellow-Eyed Penguin, Hookers Sea Lion and Hector's Dolphin (the smallest in the world), the Catlins offers the opportunity to see these magnificent animals up close in the wild.

Or, take a boat tour. Experienced locals will take you to the best spots. If you're a bird lover, you'll be able to see Albatross, petrels and turns (as well as many other bird species) in Southland.

A horse trek is a great way to explore the region, or if you would like to see live tuatara - known as 'living dinosaurs' - head to the Southland Museum. The only beak-headed reptile in the world, tuatara can live for over 100 years and are fascinating reptiles to experience close-up - especially 116-year-old Henry.

Southland is also home to the Kakapo, the rare parrot voted as the world's most-loved species.

If you're still after more, catch a glimpse of a Takahe in Te Anau, find out about the fascinating Mutton-birding traditions of local Maori in Bluff, or try and spot a whale off the coast of Western Southland.

Bluff & Stewart Island 

Bluff is one of the oldest European settlements in New Zealand. Come here to enjoy the scent of the sea and the rugged character of an oystering port.

The port of Bluff is the gateway to Stewart Island, and home of Bluff oysters – reputed to be the best in the world. 

Bluff has a rich and varied history. Check out the maritime museum for exhibits that focus whaling, oystering and shipwrecks. 

Greenpoint Domain offers a coastal walking track, and from the picnic area, a viewing platform overlooks a ship graveyard. The Bluff Hill Motupohue area provides visitors to the area with spectacular views over Foveaux Strait and the Southland Plains, a well-established track network.

From Bluff you can catch a ferry to Stewart Island and Rakiura National Park, a journey that takes about an hour.

Prizes generously donated by tourism operators from this area that you could win!

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Check out the Tourism New Zealand website for more information about the amazing things to see and do in New Zealand

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