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Queenstown overflows with adventure activities, retail therapy and relaxation. It's a great place to start your epic south-bound road trip.
- Attractions in Queenstown
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Queenstown to Te Anau
There is absolutely no doubt that you’ll enjoy every minute of this ride from Queenstown to Kingston, with lake and mountain views unfolding as you skirt Lake Wakatipu beneath the towering Remarkables.
As the shores of Lake Wakatipu fade into the distance, the vast Pacific Ocean waits ahead. But don’t rush yourself - put time aside to discover magnificent Lake Te Anau, New Zealand’s second largest lake.
Hidden gem: Te Anau glowworm caves
From Te Anau you can take a boat trip through the silent underground wonderland where millions of glowworms are the only light - a ravishing spectacle for young and old.
Fiordland National Park
Then let Lake Manapouri’s mysterious shores draw you into the pristine wilderness of Fiordland National Park. It’s just around the corner, and the call of this extraordinary World Heritage Area, a favourite among hikers, may well convince you to stay on for a bit before continuing south.
Colac Bay and Riverton
It’s not far from Manapouri to the coast. A short drive through green farm land and rolling hills and you’ll begin to feel sea breeze. If you’re a keen surfer or just like to watch agile silhouettes carving the waves, here is your excuse for a break: Colac Bay is renowned for fabulous surf. If you happen to be hungry, you might prefer a seafood feast, just a few minutes on at Riverton.
Before you know it, you will reach Invercargill, the southernmost city in New Zealand. Turn the engine off ... this is the place to delight in the art of good living with the locals, renowned for their southern hospitality.
There’s always a photo opportunity at New Zealand’s southernmost point – the signpost at Stirling Point at Bluff marks the end of SH1, but not the end of your route. While you're here, be sure to try the world famous Bluff Oysters.
Stewart Island / Rakiura
While you're down these ways you might like to take a side trip over to Rakiura / Stewart Island. This ecological paradise is New Zealand’s third largest island, only a short ferry ride from Bluff or by air from Invercargill. With the largest population of kiwi, Stewart Island is where you’re most likely to find this iconic flightless bird.
Invercargill to Dunedin
On the way north, you’ll find time for reflection with the penguins – sunrise or sunset is the best time to relax and sit quietly on the beach as you watch these comical birds. If you’re in the mood, explore the petrified forest at Curio Bay; it's a poignant reminder of an earlier time.
Our tip: Grab a brochure
Pick up a copy of the Southern Scenic Route brochure from the nearest i-SITE for the best insider knowledge on the fabulous hidden spots along the route you’re now on.
Hidden gem: Nugget Point
As you make your way along the coast, stop for the walk up to Nugget Point where the lighthouse stands on towering cliffs above jagged rocks pounded by a powerful ocean.
Finally, continue on to Dunedin via Taieri River Mouth and Brighton. Catch a glimpse of a different rural New Zealand, fringed by soaring cliffs and secluded beaches. Stop at Tunnel Beach for a short walk with stunning coastal scenery.
Dunedin's cafe’s are widely regarded for their coffee and famous cheese rolls. Or wander down George St and explore Dunedin's burgeoning fashion scene and shopping precinct. If you’re here in the weekend be sure to check out the Otago Farmers Market!
Where to next?
From Dunedin you've got plenty more to discover. Try heading north to Christchurch via the art and architecture of Oamaru, or head back to Queenstown via the vineyards and orchards of Central Otago.
A 2 day, 650km road trip (via Southern Scenic Route)
Queenstown to Kingston 35 minutes
Kingston to Te Anau 95 minutes
Te Anau to Manapouri 20 minutes
Manapouri to Tuatapere 60 minutes
Tuatapere to Riverton 50 minutes
Riverton to Invercargill 40 minutes
Invercargill to Bluff to Invercargill 50 minutes
Invercargill to Papatowai 145 minutes
Papatowai to Owaka 130 minutes
Owaka to Kaka Point 15 minutes
Kaka Point to Balclutha 20 minutes
Balclutha to Taieri Mouth 60 minutes
(turn off at Lake Waihola)
Taieri Mouth to Dunedin 45 minutes