Southland earned its reputation as the ultimate outdoor destination by giving travellers the opportunity to see and explore at their own pace. If on foot, Fiordland with its majestic Milford and Doubtful Sounds is home to the famous Milford Track. For day walkers there are numerous short tracks throughout the region, with many more waiting to be discovered. Southland also boasts some of the best fishing in New Zealand, where enthusiasts can take guided fly fishing trips in remote areas or wade the lakes and rivers at their own leisure. Cyclists, hunters, surfers and golfers also enjoy rekindling their spirit of adventure between walking tracks in Southland.
Get on track
To fully appreciate Southland’s natural beauty, tramping and walking are ideal ways to travel. From the Hump Ridge Track in Western Southland through to some of New Zealand's Great Walks such as Fiordland’s renowned Milford Track and Stewart Island’s Rakiura Track, there’s world-class walks for seasoned trampers, weekend warriors and everyone in between.
With many short walks throughout the region, visitors are often found enjoying Southland’s light strolls and challenging day hikes. Most walking tracks are easily accessed from main roads and are close to car parking, toilets and picnic spots, making them popular with families and tour groups.
Cycle trails and mountain biking
Cycle trails and mountain bike tracks weave their way round Southland’s lush greenery and beautiful waterways, giving pedal pushers the ultimate medley of riding surfaces and scenery to explore. All levels are catered for with many unspoilt trails in unpopulated areas.
Plenty of fresh water and deep sea fishing make Southland one of the best fishing destinations in New Zealand. The Plains are divided by four main rivers, the Waiau, Oreti, Aparima and Mataura, which provide countless fishing spots to explore, not to mention the many lakes, small rivers and sea. Information about fishing licences and great fishing spots in Southland can be found at Fish and Game New Zealand.
Southland has a long reputation of great hunting with its remote areas and range of game including birds, sheep, goats, chamois and larger trophies such as deer and wapiti. Duck shooting is a popular favourite, with the May through August season attracting many enthusiasts. Hunting permits can be issued for many areas of Southland through Fish and Game New Zealand.
From the polished greens of Invercargill’s golf courses to rural community courses, there’s a patch of green for every golfer in Southland. The Invercargill club is a links-type course, known as one of the friendliest and most enjoyable in New Zealand. With around 26 courses in total and numerous tournaments, there are plenty of opportunities for visitors and locals to get amongst it.
Southland boasts surf spots that attract visitors from all corners of the world. One popular and well-known location is Colac Bay, Western Southland, where consistent waves are present all year round thanks to its exposed beach break. Surfers come from far and wide to surf the waves at Curio Bay. There is no better place to learn to surf and you may even get to surf alongside the resident hectors’ dolphins. As the region’s waves are rarely crowded, surfers enjoy making the most of their experience at a relaxed pace.
Parks and gardens
Parks and gardens are popular attractions in Southland, where many of its main towns are home to beautiful public areas and hidden gems. Keen gardeners are often found admiring Invercargill’s Queens Park, where 80 hectares of park land, including rose gardens, walkways and rock gardens stretch through the city centre. Explore the network of private and public gardens in Invercargill and Southland on the Southland gardens website.