Southland encompasses a range of the South Island’s southern most destinations including Fiordland, Stewart Island and Dunedin. With this large area included under the Southland region, visitors are treated to an incredible amount of things to see and do. As a result we have come up with 10 things for you to enjoy when visiting Southland.

10. Explore Southland’s capital; Invercargill

Location: Invercargill, Southland

Image: Venture Southland
Image: Venture Southland

The town is known for it’s laid back lifestyle, friendly locals and hospitality making it an idea stop for those looking to explore the ‘real’ New Zealand. There is so much to see and do in and around Invercargill including natural sights Oreti Beach and Otepuni Gardens as well as visiting the historic Invercargill Club or Invercargill Brewery. Whatever you’re planning to do in Invercargill, this small town will pleasantly surprise you.

9. Explore the Catlins Coastal Heritage Trail

Location: Between Dunedin and Te Anau

Image: Venture Southland
Image: Venture Southland

Diverting off the Southern Scenic Route, the Catlins Coastal Heritage Trail combines a collection of interesting sights and locations between Dunedin and Te Anau reach via car. The trail takes around 5 hours one way to comfortably see all of the sights as complete all of the walking tracks included on this trail. Some of the stops include Niagara Falls; a humorously named short waterfall, Porpoise Bay; the home to pods of rare Hector’s dolphins, and Waipohatur; a forest setting with walking trails and picnic areas.

8. Try an iconic Bluff oyster

Location: Bluff, Southland

bluff oysters edited

The gateway to the picturesque Stewart Island, Bluff is NZ’s southern most town and is a popular destination for its famed oysters. Often celebrated as being the best oysters in the world Bluff has a celebrated season from March to August with the town coming to life in May with a festival. The Bluff Oyster and Food Festival showcases some of the region’s best seafood with the main emphasis on their famed oysters. Running for just one day, the festival will give you a taste of Bluff’s best seafood and its lively atmosphere as Lee Street is brought to life. If you’re not a seafood fan, there are various stalls selling a range of meats including venison, lamb, beef, pork and muttonbird.

7. Visit the steepest residential street in the world

Location: Baldwin Street, Dunedin

baldwin street dunedin edited

A recently discovered attraction by hoards of tourists from abroad, Dunedin’s Baldwin Street has been holding records, entertaining locals and thrilling daredevils for years. The street has a 1:3 gradient (35% grade) and has recently become a popular destination for Instagrammers. The street is famed for its annual events including the Cadbury Chocolate Carnival, which includes the Jaffa Race with 30,000 giant jaffas rolled down the street. Another popular event is the Baldwin Street Gutbuster, which sees around 1000 people (both locals and visitors) race to the top of the street and back down. If you want to visit and journey up to the top of the street at your own pace it will take you around 10 minutes to travel the 350 metre long street.

6. Enjoy a Western Southland sunset

Location: Various locations

Oban sunset Southland credit-Venture-Southland
Image: Venture Southland

Spend a summer day exploring the beautiful Western Southland region before sitting back to enjoy watching the sunset over another beautiful NZ day. Depending on where you sit back to watch the sunset, you can be in for a show with the gold and pink light shows can last for hours. Some of Western Southland’s popular destinations include Riverton, a popular coastal getaway with a relaxed atmosphere, and Colac Bay, which is known for its prime surfing and wildlife opportunities. Be sure to have your camera at the ready or sit back with a picnic as the day turns to night in this beautiful part of the world.

5. Visit NZ’s deepest lake; Lake Hauroko

Location: Lake Hauroko, Fiordland National Park

Lake-Hauroko-pier edited

Translating to mean ‘the soughing of the wind’ Lake Haruoko is the deepest lake in the country reaching a depth of 462 metres. The s-shaped lake covers a total area of 63 squared kilometres and stretches for 30 kilometres. The lake is located within Fiordland National Park and can be explored via a walking trail, from the shore of the lake or with a jet boating adventure – the choice is yours. If you’ve got your walking shoes on the scenic loop trail will take around 40 minutes to complete.

4. Hike the Kepler Walking Track

Location: Near Te Anau

Kepler Track Southland New Zealand
Image: Tourism New Zealand

Explore some of Southland’s beauty with the Kepler Track as it ventures through Fiordland. Leading you on a journey to see the best of the region from mountains and forest to waterfalls and valleys, the Kepler Track is a great multi-day adventure. Taking around three to four days to complete the track is an intermediate level trail and is best explored between late October and late April. There are a handful of accommodation options available during the hike as well as before and after to give you a comfortable rest before continuing the following day. If you take part in an organised tour all expenses will be covered including accommodation, however if you want to embark on your own you can book your own accommodation online. Experience Oz offers a 5-day and night hike along the Kepler Track with a range of accommodation options available. Click through below to learn more about this epic trail.

3. Cruise Milford Sound, Fiordland

Location: Milford Sound, Fiordland National Park

Image: Rob Suisted

Milford Sound is an incredible destination with a range of things to do in and around the water. However, in our opinion, cruising this incredible natural destination is nearing the top of the list. There is a range of cruise options available including day cruises and overnight adventures meaning you can spend as much or as little time here. The sound is filled with an immense amount of natural beauty and with a cruise you can clip the sides of cascading waterfalls and watch the local dolphins play around in the deep waters. Stretching to a width of around 3 kilometres and running inland for around 12 kilometres the Sound is surrounded by towering peaks including Mitre and Pembroke and reaches a depth of around 512 metres in certain places.

2. Admire fur seals, sea lions and elephant seals at Nugget Point

Location: Nugget Point, Ahuriri Flat

Image: Venture Southland
Image: Venture Southland

Admire co-existing groups of fur seals, sea lions and elephant seals from Nugget Point, which is the only mainland destination where you can see this. Known as ‘The Nuggets’ the Point is made up of eroded rocks, which mirror that of giant gold nuggets – hence the name. Home to a lighthouse built in the 1800’s; Nugget Point is reached via a short 20-minute walk from the car park. Keep your eyes peeled along the way in search of the sunning seals and sea lions. If you’re on the search to see some elephant seals your best chance is between December and February.

1. See the Southern Lights

Location: Various locations

Image: Chris Stephenson
Image: Chris Stephenson

Many travellers have seeing the Northern Lights on their bucket list, but let’s not forget about the equally impressive Southern Lights. Known as Aurora Australis, this natural phenomenon is created from the sun releasing a solar wind and magnetic field burst into space, which results in an arrangement of colours in the sky. Only visible from destinations with high southern latitudes, there are five destinations in New Zealand where you can witness this incredible display. Invercargill, Dunedin, Stewart Island, the Catlins and Lake Tekapo are all great viewing locations and if you have the chance to experience this it should definitely be at the top of your list. The natural beauty this displays is something to write home about, and don’t forget your camera because you won’t want to forget this!

In addition, if you’re looking for things to see and do around New Zealand view our full catalogue online for a range of tours, activities and attractions.

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