Top 20 things to do in Southland

Southland has a lot to offer so choosing your Top 20 activities is not an easy thing to do. This list will give you a great, diverse range activities.

#1. Southern Scenic Route - ranked number 9 in the world

The Southern Scenic Route is approximately 610 kilometres (km) of natural and cultural attractions laid out one after the other – wildlife viewing, short walks, mountain-biking, fishing, hunting, boating, camping, tramping and caving – making it an ideal drive for those with time to explore. Alternative inland roads provide a more direct path between the main centres. However, the Southern Scenic Route (SSR) is a journey that allows access to deserted beaches, lush rainforest, pristine lakes and stunning mountain vistas. 

#2. Wild Kiwi Spotting

Kiwi spotting and bird watching on Stewart Island is a unique experience found nowhere else in the world. On Stewart Island humans are outnumbered 50 to 1 by kiwi and this southern sanctuary offers a unique kiwi spotting experience as the birds are practically on your doorstep. 

#3. Kaimoana - NZ’s best selection of seafood

Southland’s exquisite crayfish, salmon, paua, oysters, scallops, mussels and fish are fresh from the clear, cool waters of the Southern Ocean and are unbeatable in taste and quality around the world. Catch it fresh from the sea or dine out at one of Southlands many fantastic seafood restaurants.

#4. Bill Richardson Transport World

Bill Richardson Transport World is the largest private collection of its type in the world. Home to over 250 vehicles, a wearable arts collection, children’s play zones, The Grille Cafe and themed bathrooms fast becoming as famous as our vehicles. Transport World has something for everyone. 

#5. Jet Boating in Western Southland / Traverse the Wairaurahiri River

Experience one of the most exhilarating and adrenaline-pumping rides in New Zealand! The Wairaurahiri River is 27km of rugged rock strewn grade three rapids that drops 200m to sea level. These conditions make a ride on a jet boat down the Wairaurahiri River incredibly fast and exhilarating.

#6. Around the Mountains Cycle Trail

The Around the Mountains Cycle Trail allows cyclists an opportunity to explore and discover some of New Zealand's most secluded and rustic rural settings at a relaxing pace without sacrificing the comforts of home. The trail starts at Kingston and winds its way through delightful Northern countryside, taking in Garston, Athol and Lumsden along the way. It then tracks west towards Mossburn before meandering up to the Lake Mavora area, through the picturesque Von Valley, Mt Nicholas Station and concluding at Walter Peak Station on the shores of Lake Wakatipu.  

#7. Bluff /Photo at the Signpost

Take in the 360 degree views of lower Southland at Bluff Lookout, get your photo taken at the iconic Stirling point signpost and walk the Foveaux Walkway along the coastal side of Bluff Hill/Motupohue while gazing out over Foveaux Strait. This is also where the Te Araroa trail and State Highway 1 begins.  

#8. Southland Museum and Art Gallery/ Meet Henry the Tuatara

The distinctive pyramid-shaped Southland Museum and Art Gallery is in Queens Park in central Invercargill. It features an extensive range of exhibits and activities including a unique Roaring 40s Gallery and a 118-year-old tuatara at it’s Tuatarium which is the world’s largest public display of live tuataras. 

#9. Tiger Moth Flights at the Croydon Heritage Aviation Centre

Experience a daring joy ride in a 1930’s Tiger Moth bi-plane and enjoy the stunning views of the Southland plains and Eyre mountains from one of New Zealand’s oldest airfields in Mandeville, on the outskirts of Gore.  

#10. Cheese, Chocolate and Beer - get a taste for Southern flavours with boutique craft delicacies

Try the unique flavours of sheep milk cheese, the creamy varieties of Southlands best chocolate and a brew of the finest beer in the south.

#11. Gore Hokonui Moonshine - taste a dram of Hokonui Moonshine

Visit Hokonui Hills the home to moonshine whiskey – which has been revived in Hokonui Heritage Precinct Gore.

#12. Rakiura Great Walk

A 3 day walk staying in seaside huts and encompassing some of the best coastline that Stewart Island has to offer. 

#13. Queens Park and Maple Glen

Situated in the heart of the city – a NZ Garden of National Significance incorporates 80 hectares of gardens, wildlife and sporting fun. As well as an 18-hole golf course, the park has animal enclosures, a bird aviary, a castle, a stumpery and much more! The gardens at Maple Glen include 30 acre of plantings and landscaping that is recognised as one of New Zealand’s best 

#14. Mclean Falls

An easy meander to majestic falls in the midst of the Catlins Rainforest 

#15. Te Hikoi Southern Journey

Take an interactive journey through 'Te Hikoi', featuring authentic displays, adventurous characters and engaging stories. These reveal how our Maori and European ancestors adapted to survive on nature's edge. 

#16. Cave on at Clifden or the Coastal Cathedral Caves

Journey underground and see the incredible rock formations of the Clifden caves and the vastness of the Cathedral in the Catlins. 

#17. E Hayes and Sons Motorworks (Invercargill)

See Burt Munro’s famous record breaking Indian Scout motorbike at E Hayes and Sons Motorworks. 

#18. Spot Hoiho (Yellow-eyed penguins) Sea Lions at Waipapa Point

Observe the Yellow Eyed Penguins as they come ashore on the 180 million year old petrified forest at Curio Bay as they return to their burrows at the 180 million year old petrified forest. View the giant, slumbering Sea Lions which lie in amongst the dune grasses and visit the iconic lighthouse.

#19. Ulva Island

Birds, birds, birds, the Tui perched in native trees provide the soundtrack to any visitor’s arrival on Ulva Island. Weka, kaka and other native birds complete the welcoming committee, often coming so close that binoculars aren’t needed to see them. 

#20. Shark Diving

Stare the largest predator of the sea straight in the face in what is arguably the most adrenaline filled adventure activity in New Zealand.


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