Wild havens of the far south

The far south of New Zealand has some of the most remote and wildlife-rich landscapes in the country, areas like the Otago Peninsula and Stewart Island.

The Catlins and Otago Peninsula are famous for their marine life, penguins, seals and albatross, and for bird lovers an extension to Stewart Island is a must and will be your best chance to see kiwi in the wild. The Fiordland experiences included here are some of the best with a choice of overnight cruises on Doubtful Sound and the chance to participate in a Te Anau conservation program whilst enjoying an amazing helicopter ride and hike on the Kepler Peninsula. You can add this journey or elements from it to most of our journeys further north.

Green Journeys allow you to build your own itinerary or adopt one of our suggested itineraries, book it or modify it to suit your special interests and dates. Green Journeys itineraries encourage staying at least 2-3 nights in each location so that you have a chance of enjoying the region, sampling the activities and attractions available and relaxing in your accommodation. Accommodations in our Green Collection are individually owned and hosted, intimate, luxurious and situated in beautiful surroundings. Our suggested activities are equally carefully selected.

Wild Havens of the Far South

Dunedin - Catlins - Stewart Island - Fiordland
Connection points: Dunedin airport - Queenstown airport 

Activity level: moderate
Best season: November-April
Duration: 11 days, 10 nights

Driving times

Dunedin - Mohua Park 2 1/2 hours

Mohua Park - Invercargill 2 hours

Invercargill - Stewart Island ferry or plane 30-60 mins

Invercargill - Te Anau 2 1/2 hours

Day 1 - Otago Peninsula, Otago
Stay: Kaimata Retreat
Kaimata Lodge is just over an hours drive across the Otago Peninsula from Dunedin airport.. From the moment you arrive at Kaimata you will be delighted at the fabulous setting high up overlooking a remote estuary on the Otago Peninsula. Book dinner at Kaimata tonight.

Day 2 - Otago Peninsula, Otago
Do: Elm Wildlife Tours
Stay: Kaimata Retreat
The Peninsula Encounters tour provides the best penguin, sea lion and seal viewing on the Otago Peninsula. Finish off with a visit to the famous Royal Albatross Centre at Taiaroa headland

Day 3 - The Catlins, South Otago
Do: Drive Dunedin to the Catlins
Stay: Catlins Mohua Park
Allow 3 hours to drive from Kaimata to Mohua Park Cottages just south of Owaka. Mohua Park self-contained cottages are located deep in a bush clad valley with views across countryside and forest.

Day 4 - The Catlins, South Otago
Do: at leisure, explore the area with advice from your hosts
Stay: Catlins Mohua Park
Book a day touring with your hosts who are the most experienced wildlife guides in the region or explore on your own. Tahakopa and Tautuku Bays are beautiful forested inlets and beaches and well worth a stop. Our personal favourites in the area are Porpoise and Curio Bays - spot for dolphins and the occasional whale in the slow surf.

Day 5 - Stewart Island
Do: Travel Catlins to Stewart Island
Stay: Port of Call
The drive to Invercargill takes 2 1/4 hours. You can either fly to Stewart Island or continue on another 20 mins to Bluff where the ferry leaves. Port Of Call has both in-lodge accommodation and self contained cottages. Settle in to your accommodation and enjoy the plentitude of birdlife even within the tiny settlement of Oban.

Day 6 - Stewart Island
Do: at leisure, explore the area with advice from your hosts
Stay: Port of Call
Two choices - the Ulva Island Bird Sanctuary is a ten minute boat ride and is thronging with bird life. Alternatively, fly from Oban to Masons Bay on the far side of the island. This is one of the most beautiful and isolated beaches in the country and you may be lucky enough to see kiwi. The walk back to Freshwater Landing takes 3-4 hours where your water taxi awaits.

Day 7 - Te Anau, Fiordland
Do: Travel to Te Anau
Stay: Fiordland Lodge
Allow about 1 hour transfer time (by boat or air) plus 2 1/2 hours drive time from Invercargill to Te Anau.Fiordland Lodge is a masterpiece in log construction, using massive Douglas Fir logs milled from the site. Dine at the lodge tonight.

Day 8 - Te Anau, Fiordland
Do: Real Journeys Glow Worm Caves
Stay: Fiordland Lodge

Enjoy a relaxing morning, then in the afternoon or early evening, cruise across Lake Te Anau to the extraordinary underground world
of the Glow Worm Caves. A twisting network of limestone passages filled with sculpted whirlpools and a roaring underground waterfall.

Day 9 - Te Anau, Fiordland
Do: Kepler Wildlife Recovery
Stay: Fiordland Lodge

Volunteer for a day of bird protection action. You fly to the Kepler Peninsula before hiking 2-3 hours back down through pristine native beech forest checking a trap line and noting birdlife as you go.

Day 10 - Doubtful Sound, Fiordland
Stay: Fiordland Expeditions on Doubtful Sound
After being welcomed aboard this comfortable small vessel, you set off to discover the many arms of the fiord. Relax on deck with a glass of bubbly and spot for Tawaki (Fiordland Crested Penguins), Kekeno (NZ Fur Seals) and Bottle-nose Dolphins. Borrow a kayak to paddle across the still waters, fish, swim or dive. Dinner is generally a feast of freshly caught fish.

Day 11 - Journey’s End
Queenstown airport is 2 hours drive away with good connections to other New Zealand destinations as well as a number of direct flights from Australian cities. Or fly into and out of Dunedin Airport and make this a round-trip. Dunedin is 3 1/2 hours drive from Te Anau.

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