Nature / Wildlife
Southland is famous for its untouched natural environment. Its protected national parks and marine reserves are home to a wide range of native birds, plants and marine life.
Stewart Island, home of Rakiura national park, is a haven for native birds such as the iconic kiwi, kereru (native wood pigeon), bellbird, tui and rare saddleback. About 20,000 kiwi live on Stewart island - the world’s largest kiwi habitat - offering the best opportunity of seeing kiwi in the wild.
Ulva Island - a 10-minute water taxi ride from Stewart Island - has been a DOC-managed open sanctuary since 1997. Native flora and birds including South Island saddleback, mohua, rifleman and Stewart Island robin flourish on this predator-free sanctuary.
Curio Bay, on the Catlins coast, has a 180-million-year-old fossilised forest. The petrified stumps, fallen trees and fern imprints are easily accessed at low tide, or can be viewed from a platform above. The bay is a nesting site for New Zealand's unique hoiho / yellow eyed penguin, and dolphins and seals often visit.