Southland’s largest centre is Invercargill. If you’re a garden lover you must see Queens Park and its 80 hectares of tree-lined walkways and diverse gardens. The city turns on the hospitality so, if you’re looking for somewhere to stay, you’ll find plenty of friendly and high standard accommodation.
Half an hour from Invercargill is the fishing port of Bluff. Known for its fabulous seafood, this is the place to taste the famous Bluff oysters. If you like bird watching, catch a ferry to Stewart Island where you’ll find a haven for native bird life and the only place in New Zealand where you have a fair chance of seeing kiwi in their native habitat.
Southland offers scenic mountain biking trails for all abilities. Cycle the highlands and discover fascinating gold mining heritage at Welcome Rock Trails, while the Around the Mountains trail winds through historic townships and pioneering relics and is known for its rural charm. Cycling in Southland is a great way to connect with friendly locals.
For encounters with rare and unique wildlife, head along the Southland coast to the Catlins. The Catlins River Walk leads you through beech forest and is known for its hidden waterfalls and rare native birds. At Curio Bay you’ll find fossilized trees, over 180 million years old, embedded in coastal bedrock. And at Nugget Point you’ll find fur seals, sea lions, sooty shearwaters, shags, yellow-eyed penguins, spoonbills and a breeding colony of gannets. And if you look closely, you may see Hector's dolphins frolicking out in the waves.