The Free Spirit

Southland is famous for its southern hospitality and magnificent natural scenery. 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 natural coastlines, cultural attractions, and exciting activities, including scenic walks, wildlife viewing and surfing. With experiences ranging from alpaca feeding and private mountain bike trails to boutique horse treks and authentic kiwi farm stay experiences, there is a rich array of options available to entice any free spirit.

Duration

3 Days

Distance

250 km

Best Time

Anytime

Ulva Island/Te Wharawhara

Ulva Island Te Wharawhara is a pristine predator-free open island sanctuary in Paterson Inlet - one of the few pest-free sanctuaries in New Zealand. The island's abundant birdlife, rich forest, interesting history, golden sand…

Day 1

Check in at the Stewart Island Ferry terminal in Bluff and enjoy your 1-hour scenic cruise across the Foveaux Strait to New Zealand's largest island National Park. Alternatively, catch a helicopter from Bluff to Stewart Island. 

Once there, make your way to Golden Bay to catch the ten-minute ferry ride across to Ulva Island. 

Ulva Island is located off the coast of Stewart Island and is home to a renowned wildlife sanctuary. The island is the habitat of weka, bush robins, rare saddleback and yellowhead, amongst other species. It is also a protected habitat for some of New Zealand’s rarest plant species.  

Pick one of the many local guides who will give you a guided walk of the island, filling you in on the nature and history of the area. 

Take the ferry back to the mainland before going back into the township to Stewart Island Electric Bikes.

Explore picturesque Stewart Island in style on eco-friendly electric bikes. You can travel at your own pace around the 30 km of roads, stop and see the fantastic scenery and wildlife, and go to places you never would have explored before.  

After you have worked up an appetite, head to one of the town’s most well-known eateries, make sure you try some of the island’s fresh seafood offerings while you are here! 

At nighttime, take a moment to stop and look up, deep into the Milky Way and its billions of stars. Stewart Island is the southernmost Dark Sky Sanctuary in the world and offers one of the darkest locations to view the night sky – mainly due to the lack of light pollution that many urban areas face. Twinkle Dark Sky Tours will show you some of the most stunning sites in our solar system and beyond! 

Make your way to your overnight lodging from your stargazing location. 

There are several types of accommodation on the island, so choose from a location in the heart of town or one of the possibilities in the gorgeous bays nearby. Enjoy your night’s rest before tomorrow’s adventures. 

Kai Kart

Takeaway food in New Zealand's southernmost location - beautiful Stewart Island. Offering classic…

Phil's Sea Kayak

I offer a range of half day and full day sea kayaking experiences, from exploration for the beginners in the pristine clear bays of Paterson Inlet, to advanced sea kayaking expeditions for experts. I am an experienced and certified…

Day 2

Located near the centre of the town, Rakiura Jade overlooks the harbour in Halfmoon Bay, Stewart Island. Join Rakiura’s jade carver and sculptor David Goodin in his studio to carve your very own piece of pounamu (greenstone). 

Take the ten-minute walk to Phil’s Sea Kayak. Explore the pristine clear waters of Stewart Island through a 2.5hr or half-day kayak tour. Experience a sea-kayaking paradise with amazing marine life, bays, and sandy beaches – you may even see some penguins! 

Take some time out for lunch. Perhaps try some of the freshly caught blue cod the island offers – especially good in burger form!  

If you have time left to spare, walk down to Bunkhouse Theatre, the local movie cinema. The Bunkhouse Theatre is a comfy 53-seat cinema in the heart of Stewart Island. Sit back and enjoy some popcorn while watching “A Local’s Tail”, a film which introduces local characters and the struggles & triumphs of the island pioneers – past & present. 

Make your way down to the ferry terminal before catching the 1-hour Ferry Back to Bluff

Stay in Bluff at one of the many cosy accommodation choices. From backpackers to boutique options, you will surely find something that suits you.  

Bluff has you covered for dinner, no matter what you are in the mood for. Try one of the local pubs for a traditional pub meal or dine at the high-end Oyster Cove to experience superb-tasting food with spectacular views of Foveaux Strait. You will be spoiled with choice of locally sourced seafood and muttonbird. 

Rakiura Jade

A most enjoyable and exciting journey into the 3D realm of carving the strongest stone in our world…

Oyster Cove

At Oyster Cove, enjoy great tasting food and spectacular views. We promote locally caught seafood…

Kai Kart

Takeaway food in New Zealand's southernmost location - beautiful Stewart Island. Offering classic…

Welcome Rock Trails

A visit to Welcome Rock is remote, exhilarating and unforgettable. Welcome Rock is a hand-built, stunning, private, single-track trail on a high country station just 45 minutes from Queenstown, created for cross country mountain…

Day 3

Hop in the car and head north to High Country for a visit to the remote, exhilarating and unforgettable Welcome Rock. 

Welcome Rock is a hand-built, stunning, private, single-track trail on a high-country station just 45 minutes south of Queenstown. You can hike it, bike it, jeep it, sheep it or sleep overnight at it – a visit to Welcome Rock is a unique opportunity to see a real working High Country farm in action.

Stay the night at The Mud Hut at Welcome Rock.

If it’s an adventure you want and a memorable experience, stay right up the top of the mountain. The Mud Hut offers a truly unique place to spend the night, with the original fireplace, an outdoor bath and panoramic views of the Garvie mountains and Native Forest below.

Choose your Southland experience today

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