Truly off the beaten track
Located, unsurprisingly, at the very bottom of the South Island, this remote region stretches from Fiordland in the west, across open plains to the rugged coastline of the Catlins in the east. It is also the gateway to New Zealand’s third-largest island, Stewart Island/Rakiura.
Southland is an agricultural powerhouse with thriving dairy and energy industries. The region has a strong Scottish influence with Southlanders having a reputation for being both hard-working and friendly. An abundance of seafood including lobsters, and in particular Bluff oysters, is also a notable highlight.
The region is known for its bird and marine life including sea lions, penguins, dolphins, whales and, on Stewart Island, kiwis. In fact Stewart Island is the most likely place in New Zealand to spot a kiwi in its native habitat.
Top things to do in Southland
Looking for ideas to help you plan the ultimate New Zealand outdoor adventure? Here are some of the top things for active travellers to see and do in the Southland region.
Explore the Catlins
Straddling the border between Otago’s Clutha district and the Southland region, the Catlins is a stunning natural area with thick podocarp forests, hidden lakes and waterfalls and a rugged scenic coastline. A particular Southland highlight is Curio Bay where, at low tide, you can explore the fossilised remains of an ancient forest. You can find out more about this area on the official Catlins website.
Visit Stewart Island/Rakiura
If you think that Southland sounds remote, wait until you step foot on Stewart Island. Located 30 km / 19 miles off the coast, this 1,746 km² island has a permanent population of less than 500, most of whom live in the eastern settlement of Oban. 85% of the island is a national park which is home to numerous walking tracks including the Rakiura Track, one of New Zealand’s Great Walks. You can read about this and other tracks on the DOC website.