Ever wondered what it’s like to go to the end of the road? Discover New Zealand’s “Deep South” where nature lies untouched, where the locals roll their ‘r’s and the oysters are to die for. This week-long journey winds through untouched fiords, windswept fishing towns and down to New Zealand's southernmost island.
Before leaving Queenstown, take some time to check out this stunning and vibrant alpine town. There's a reason it is such a popular holiday spot.
The journey from Queenstown to Te Anau is spectacular, with lake and mountain views unfolding as you skirt Lake Wakatipu beneath the towering Remarkables. Lake Te Anau is New Zealand’s second largest lake, with an area of 344 square kilometres and 3 large fiords reaching out from its western side. Short walking tracks dot the shoreline and exploring on foot is often one of the best ways to take in the sheer beauty of this area.
Te Anau is also the perfect starting point to experience the grandeur of Milford Sound.
Breathtaking in any weather with a fusion of spectacular natural features.Read more
Today you'll visit Milford Sound on a day trip from Te Anau. Described by Rudyard Kipling as the 'eighth wonder of the world', Milford Sound was carved by glaciers during the ice ages and is breathtaking in any weather. Dramatic cliffs rise vertically from the inky black water and mountain peaks scrape the sky.
A boat cruise or scenic flight - or both - is the perfect way to truly appreciate the beauty of this place. Boat cruises often include a coach from Te Anau, and some include kayaking. Look out for the pods of dolphins, seals and penguins who call the waters of Milford Sound home.
Caution: If you choose to self-drive, be sure to give yourself plenty of time as conditions can vary greatly on this route, particularly in winter.
Head south towards the very bottom of the New Zealand mainland - Bluff. One of the oldest European settlements in New Zealand, Bluff is famous for its oysters - recognised as some of the best in the world. The maritime museum here focuses on whaling, oystering and shipwrecks; the rugged character of this ocean-faring town is evident everywhere you go.
Don't miss the photo opportunity at Stirling Point - a bright yellow signpost here signifies the bottom of the mainland and shows distances to the South Pole and other parts of the world.
The ferry from Bluff to Stewart Island is a one-hour crossing, with plenty of wildlife to spot along the way. Watching albatross soaring behind the ferry is a fantastic sight.
Stewart Island is known as Rakiura in Maori, meaning 'the land of glowing skies'. You’ll get an inkling why when you see the aurora australis, which often appears this far south. The 400 or so Stewart Islanders are a proud and very independent bunch. For them, New Zealanders are people who live on the other side of Fouveaux Strait. But they’re friendly. There’s only one settlement of any size on the island – Halfmoon Bay, sometimes called Oban.
For those that love birdlife, Stewart Island is a bird watcher's paradise, teeming with many of New Zealand's native and endangered species - including kiwi, which outnumber humans by 50 to 1. The kiwi-spotting experience - which occurs at night-time, as the birds are nocturnal - is a magic experience.
A boat cruise or fishing charter is also a great way to explore the waters and inlets around the island.
Today you'll ferry back to the mainland and take the short drive north to the bustling city of Invercargill. New Zealand’s southernmost city has plenty of character and a warm, friendly heart. Victorian, Edwardian and Art Deco heritage buildings give the city character and the wide streets make it easy to navigate.
Take a wander around the rose gardens at Queens Park, visit the Southland Museum with its great lounge of tuatara or pop across to Transport World the home of all things automotive.
There are two routes to Dunedin today; you can choose the long drive through The Catlins, a stretch of wilderness packed with wildlife and scenic sights. Alternatively, a more direct route travels along State Highway 1, giving you more time to explore Dunedin and Otago Peninsula.
Dunedin is a treasure trove of Victorian and Edwardian architecture. You can stay in historic hotels and grand homes that have been converted to bed and breakfast establishments. Eco-tours to penguin, albatross and fur seal colonies are Dunedin's other claim to fame - some include a cruise up the beautiful Otago Harbour.