Southland: Due South

Beautiful landscapes, friendly locals and abundant wildlife are all waiting to be discovered on five self-drive road trips in Southland.

Experience a chilled-out holiday along the Southern Scenic Route on The Free Spirit itinerary. This journey between Queenstown and Dunedin has been ranked one of the top 10 drives in the world, and for good reason. Along more than 600 kilometres of rugged coastline are cultural attractions and outdoor activities such as scenic walks, wildlife viewing and surfing. It is an ideal drive for those who want to explore everything Southland has to offer, and a number of new EV charging stations along the route make it easy to go electric.

Steep mountain peaks, the deepest of lakes, meandering rivers, fertile farmland, lush native forests, and a coastline that stretches for more than 3400 kilometres all make Southland the perfect place for The Explorer. With the Around the Mountains Cycle Trail, easy access to four Great Walks and a huge number of back-country tracks, a traveller is spoilt for choice when it comes to low-impact leisure activities and responsible tourism operators that can offer them.

Treat your palate to some of the world’s best fare on The Foodie trip. Enjoy world-famous Bluff oysters, Rakiura/Stewart Island salmon, mussels, paua and blue cod, or locally grown vegetables and prime cuts of meat. Not to mention that Southland staple—the cheese roll.

The History Buff can view lighthouses and whalers’ sites, moonshine distilleries and Victorian hotels, while Waikaia’s Switzers Museum or the interactive Tumu Toka Curioscape at Curio Bay host an array of local treasures and geological marvels.

Get closer to nature on The Captain and delve into the Te Anau Glowworm caves. Uncover semiprecious stones at Gemstone Beach in Western Southland. Listen to the native birdsong on Ulva Island, spot kiwi hiding in the dark on Rakiura/Stewart Island, or take a guided kayaking trip on Milford Sound. Southland is ready to be explored.

More by