Southland is known for its stunning landscapes, but beneath the surface lies an entirely different paradise waiting for your. Discover a world of wonder, mystery, and unparalleled beauty under the waves. From its rugged coastline to its stunning marine biodiversity, the underwater realm of Southland is a treasure trove waiting to be discovered. Join us as we dive into the depths and explore the hidden wonders of this captivating underwater world.

Starting strong with The Catlins, where all you need to do is dive into the water and patiently await the arrival of the creatures that inhabit its depths. As you’re playing in the waves in places such as Curio Bay, Pahu Hector Dolphins may come and join you. When you’re swimming, surfing or paddle-boarding, do not approach them - they will come to you if they want to. You may also see Whakahao New Zealand sea lions, Kekeno Fur seals, Hoiho Yellow-eyed penguins and Little Blue Penguins, the world’s smallest penguin.


Did you know that there are more species of penguins that call New Zealand home than any other country? We are particularly blessed with these beautiful birds here in Southland as we have three species that can be found on our…

Pahu Hector's Dolphins

Southland is home to Pahu Hector's dolphins, a species endemic to New Zealand. These dolphins are one of the world's smallest, with mature adults measuring between 1.2 and 1.6 meters. Pahu are easily recognised by their…

From the smallest penguin in the world, to a much bigger predator that can be found in Southland’s waters. An animal that captures the imagination of many: the Great White Shark. Bluff is the only place in New Zealand where you can come eye to eye with these incredible beasts. You can witness the great whites of the Foveaux Strait at Shark Experience Bluff. Take the plunge to observe amazing wildlife and have your moment with nature from the safety of a shark cage. An experience that will, no doubt, leave everlasting memories.

Snorkelling on Rakiura Stewart Island is another experience like no other. The island’s mysterious and beautiful underwater world boasts a unique and thriving ecosystem. Along the coastlines, you'll encounter dense kelp forests, where strands of kelp can reach lengths of up to 10 meters, offering mesmerizing underwater scenery. These forests are home to various fish species, including Greenbone, Blue Moki, Blue Cod, Trumpeter, and Wrasse. Occasionally, a New Zealand Sea Lion or Fur Seal gracefully glides past, playfully interacting with snorkelers. Keep a sharp eye out for the elusive octopus, cleverly concealed among the rocks!
Arrange a tour with one of the operators and entrust yourself to the guidance of local experts. They'll take you to the best snorkelling locations and provide all the necessary gear to tackle the chilly waters of Rakiura.

Dive Rakiura

Stewart Island's remote and untouched coastlines are a thing of beauty and have long been luring…

Finally, there is the unmatched beauty of the Fiordland waters. Just as breathtaking beneath the surface as it is above, Piopiotahi Milford Sound earns its reputation among divers as the 'coral capital' of New Zealand. Diving in this marine reserve is an experience that cannot be found anywhere else on Earth. Unique to Milford’s underwater world are sheer cliff faces that provide spectacular Fiord wall diving and a unique ecosystem of deep-water emergent black coral trees. The coral trees have a stunning white appearance over a jet-black skeleton and are normally only found in deep water trenches. Milford's heavy rainfall (up to nearly 7 meters or 23 feet per year) makes for a mix of fresh and saltwater on the surface and huge mountains casting their shadows over the waters, enough light is blocked to allow these beautiful coral trees to call Milford home.
While diving you may also see sharks, eels, octopus, stingray, crayfish, nudibranch and over 150 different fish species. The diversity of marine life, extreme mountain faces, majestic scenery and powerful presence lead Jacques Cousteau to rate Fiordland diving as "The last frontier" of underwater exploration.

If you want to see this unique underwater world yourself but also want to keep your feet dry, the Milford Sound Observatory is the perfect place for you. It is the only floating underwater observatory in New Zealand and offers a unique view of the fascinating underwater environment of the fiord. Visitors can walk down the steps into the large underwater viewing room and find themselves 10 meters below sea level.  It’s just like visiting an aquarium, except the exhibits are roaming free and you’re the one in the enclosure!