The Captain

It's time to don your Captain’s hat and rule the crystal-clear waters of Southland. With a coastline that stretches 3,400 kilometres, the deepest lakes in the country and some of the best scenic seascapes in New Zealand, travelling by air, land or sea to see the beautiful coastline should be on everyone's bucket list. If cruising, canapes and a glass of bubbly is more to your taste, hop on board Fiordland Historic Cruises and sail across Lake Te Anau on a ship with real history, surrounded by New Zealand’s natural beauty. For something more adventurous, a guided Catlins ATV trip can show you everything from golden sandy beaches with sea lions and penguins to rolling farmland dotted with sheep. 

Duration

3 Days

Distance

600 km

Best Time

Anytime

Milford Sound

Often described as the "eighth wonder of the world", the jewel in Fiordland"s crown, and one of the New Zealand"s top travel destinations, Milford Sound (Piopiotahi) was carved by glaciers thousands of years ago during the ice ages…

Day 1

Start your day off right by experiencing the most popular Fiord — Piopiotahi Milford Sound. A picturesque helicopter flight will not only take you over the spectacular Southern Alps before descending through glacier-carved valleys to settle in Milford Sound, but it will also include an epic landing of the pilot's choice along the way. Cruise through the sound to the mouth of Milford Sound and the Tasman Sea. View the wildlife while cruising and learn about the local environment by listening to knowledgeable commentary. Once back on dry land, you will continue your journey by flying over the tops of beech forests and mountain peaks along the major divide of the Fiordland highlands. Finally, a vista of Lake Manapouri is provided as a spectacular finish as you land at Manapouri airport; enjoy the complimentary transfer from Manapouri back to Te Anau

Take your pick from award-winning pies, finger-lickin' fish n chips, or visit one of Te Anau's numerous cafés or restaurants for a variety of tasty alternatives for lunch.

Wind down for the day on a cruise across Lake Te Anau with Cruise Te Anau or Fiordland Historic Cruises aboard the Faith - a 19.7-metre-long wooden motor-sailer built in 1935 in Scotland. Having sailed all over the world, she now calls Lake Te Anau and Fiordland National Park her home. Be treated to personal commentary while enjoying canapes and refreshments as you glide across the water!

Relax for the night in your choice of Fiordland accommodation. Te Anau has everything from charming camping sites right in the heart of town to luxurious lodges that highlight New Zealand's secluded and breathtaking scenery.

Riverton, Western Southland
Deb Racz

Riverton

Thirty kilometres from Invercargill, the seaside town of Riverton (Aparima) is one of the most popular towns in Western Southland and is a great stop on the Southern Scenic Route. The township is nestled at the western end of Oreti…

Day 2

Enjoy breakfast in Te Anau before driving along the Southern Scenic Route past Tuatapere before stopping at McCracken’s Rest. From here, you can stand at the lookout and view across Te Wae Wae Bay and see the Solander Islands. Other notable features you can spot are Sand Hill Point, the Hump Ridge Track, Pahia Point and Stewart Island. You may even spot a pod of Hector’s Dolphins! Do not forget to take a photo with the iconic signpost! 

If you are up for some surfing, Western Southland has some prime spots! Check out ‘Porridge’, which ranks as one of New Zealand’s top surfing spots! 

Keep heading around the coast, taking in the picturesque sights until you have reached Riverton. With a range of dining options, you can choose from a casual lunch of fish and chips or pizza, dine on the beach, or head to one of the local restaurants. Try the Aparima Restaurant and Bar – their seafood chowder is a must-try! Otherwise, there is the Beachhouse Restaurant which serves a variety of delicious seafood amongst other classic favourites.

Continue along the Southern Scenic Route towards The Catlins. If you want to take a break along the route, you may stop at the Fortrose Cafe and enjoy a coffee with a sea view before continuing your journey.

After a day full of discovering Southland and Fiordland, treat yourself to a bit of luxury by staying at some of the many secluded accommodation options scattered along the coast. Catlins Mohua Park Eco Accommodation offers a little extra in each of their four eco-cottages with panoramic views of rolling farmland and native bush; it is the perfect farm stay experience. The ambience of the cottages is a rustic charm, and if you opt for the Bed and Breakfast option (which we highly recommend!), you will be treated to fresh produce straight from the garden. If you prefer something with a view of the ocean, pick one of the many boutique accommodations scattered along the shore of Curio Bay

Catlins Mohua Park Eco Accommodation

Our Cottages Take your pick from four spacious king studio eco cottages, all offering privacy in a natural bush setting. Each cottage has incredible views overlooking lush rolling farmland and the stunning bush of the Catlins…

Day 3

Where else can you witness thundering waterfalls, ATV through farmlands, journey among breath-taking beaches, wander through lush native forests, and visit 200m long caves – all in one day? The Catlins, of course!

Starting at Mohua Park, depart for the Catlins Coastal ATV experience. See the thundering waterfalls of Pūrākaunui and Matai Falls, the beautiful golden sandy beaches and native wildlife such as sea lions and native birds. Drive from Mohua Park to a private farming property on the Catlins Coast. As you ride through gorgeous coastal farmland, you'll pass sheep and cattle grazing in these paddocks. Driving over the cliff tops, spectacular coastal vistas, rolling countryside, and making our way down the wide-open areas of the beach, your local guide will point out landmarks and places of interest and agricultural techniques. Finish the tour by riding the ATV down the beach with spectacular windswept trees, sea birds, and excellent photo opportunities.

McLean Falls

The 22 metre McLean Falls on the Tautuku River in the Catlins Conservation Park are often described…

Catlins Tours

The Catlins, unique to the eastern coast of the South Island, is rugged, remote and endowed with…

Surat Bay

Surat Bay is quiet and peaceful spot, home to lots of wildlife that can be easily viewed and…

Choose your Southland experience today

crosshair icon View All Roadtrips

You're Due South

Are you a self-proclaimed Foodie? Or maybe you're more of an Explorer at heart. Do you want to dust off the Swanndri and go rural for a bit...or embrace your inner Free Spirit? Or maybe you…

The Free Spirit

3 Days

250 km

Anytime

Experience a chilled-out holiday along the Southern Scenic Route. This incredible journey has been ranked one of the top 10 drives in the world, and for a good reason. 600km of spectacular…

The History Buff

3 Days

340 km

Anytime

The history of Murihiku Southland is rich and varied, with each part of the region embracing their own unique past. View lighthouses and whalers' sites, moonshine distilleries, and Victorian…

The Explorer

3 Days

400 km

Anytime

Get ready to unleash your inner explorer. Southland's pristine wilderness is known for its rare and unique wildlife and a “must do” for anyone who is passionate about the natural world and…

The Foodie

3 Days

255 km

Anytime

Foodies rejoice as you sample your way through some of the world’s best fare, all produced in the great Southern region.

The Rugged Rural

3 Days

295 km

Anytime

Roll up your sleeves and prepare to get your hands dirty as this road trip takes you into the heart of the Southland backcountry. Dust your Swanndri off and immerse yourself in an authentic…

The Island Hopper

3 Days

95 km

Anytime

Time for an overseas holiday? Dreaming of island hopping? Look no further than your backyard. Take a flight or board a boat to discover the secluded sights of Ulva Island & Stewart Island…

crosshair icon View All Roadtrips