The untouched beauty of Southland provides a natural playground, no matter what your passion. As New Zealand’s ultimate outdoors destination for cycling, walking, fishing, photography and history, Southland captures the heart and soul of every person who visits. This 4 day itinerary through the region will help you discover some of the best the region has to offer while allowing plenty of time for exploration and relaxation.
Day 1: Queenstown to Invercargill - 197 km / 2 hours 30 mins
The easy drive down State Hwy 6 has fast become a favourite for leisure travelers with the evolving scenery of sharp mountains, to rolling hills and wide valleys providing an attractive backdrop. Stop in Athol to visit the Art Gallery, a shrine to the connection of land and rural life that locals are accustomed to but visitors are in awe of.
Southern hospitality is alive here in Southland as we are known for our warm welcome and genuine people, but there’s much more than meets the eye. Beginning in Invercargill, the gateway to Southland the streets are lined with grand architecture that gives you a feel of times gone by. But don’t let this fool you, with a thriving coffee scene, exciting events calendar and an inner city rebuild there’s plenty to uncover in Invercargill. Stop at the newly opened Museum & Art Gallery, He Waka Tuia or over at Classic Motorcycle Mecca where you will find a collection housing over 300 motorcycles and motorcycle related artwork and a new exhibition showcasing local race car builder George Begg’s famous collection (some of which are still track racing today.
A taste of Southland is available right across the city with many eateries showcasing locally produced meats, produce and seafood right out of the Strait. We recommend trying a Fat Bastard Pie or snacking on some fresh Blue Cod. Make sure you don't leave Southland without trying the famous Southland Cheese Roll. Or for a sweet treat, Seriously Good Chocolate Company has earned its reputation as New Zealand’s tastiest blend of unique flavours.
Day 2: Invercargill to Te Anau via the Southern Scenic Route
The journey through to Te Anau is complemented by beautiful vistas along the coast. With popular short walks to historic sites, and scenic look outs, Western Southland is a treasure trove of both gold mining heritage and Maori settlements. Lookout to Stewart Island from Mores Scenic Reserve Walk just outside of Riverton, or carry on to the outskirts of Tuatapere where the historic Clifden Suspension Bridge pays tribute to impressive early engineering techniques allowing locals to cross the Waiau River.
Manapouri and Lake Te Anau are renowned as lakeside destinations but there a host of dry land activities with cycle trails, short walks and exploring options across Fiordland.
Day 3: Te Anau to Gore - 136 km / 1 hour 30 mins
The drive east across the region demonstrates the strong ties to rural lifestyle that Southland is built on. A stop at popular café come American style diner, Route 6 is a classic twist on roadside cafes.
Further up the road in Mandeville, the Croydon Aviation Centre with a classic collection of fully restored aircraft from the 1920’s & 30’s – some of which are still flight ready. The centre is home to the largest collection of de Havilland aircraft in the Southern Hemisphere and is adding to its heritage story with a steam engine on display (and running on certain weekends throughout the year).
Day 4: Gore to Dunedin - 152 km / 2 hours
Rural Southland might be the last place you expect such a considerable mix of cultural and historic nuggets, but Gore is increasingly becoming known for its history, heritage and artwork. Well worth a visit to learn about the area’s illicit whisky making history which comes to life in the heritage precinct which is also home to the Eastern Southland Gallery, It features the international art collection of expatriate New Zealander Dr. John Money, and a large body of artwork by leading contemporary New Zealand artist Ralph Hotere.
Just as well known as its green pastures, the town lies next to the Mataura River which is teaming with brown trout, and the unparalleled knowledge of the local fishing guides will ensure you take home a catch.