Northern Southland

Northern Southland is a beautiful contrast of green, rolling farmland, majestic snow-capped mountains, and tussock-clad high country.

Ōreti Lumsden is the area’s main hub and a major junction, with roads to travellers’ destinations departing on all four points of the compass. An hour south is Invercargill, and an hour north lies Queenstown; to the southeast, you’ll find Gore, and the northwest road leads to Te Anau, Manapouri and Milford Sound.

Both the Oreti River and the upper section of the Mataura River run through Northern Southland, offering some of the best dry fly fishing in the world. Further recreational opportunities are provided by some of the best cycling trails and mountain bike tracks in New Zealand, which offer visitors an exciting way to tour around some of the various small towns and unique landscapes in the district. Along with biking, there are trails in the area that cater to tramping, horse riding, and 4-wheel driving, as well as plenty of scenic picnic and camping spots for less adventurous wilderness seekers!

Mavora Lakes Conservation Park is a breathtaking testament to the wonders of nature, a place that truly inspires awe and reverence. Nestled within the Te Wāhipounamu South-West New Zealand World Heritage Area, it showcases a harmonious blend of majestic mountains, serene lakes, lush forests, and sprawling tussock grasslands. During summer, Mavora Lakes Park transforms into a vibrant hub of outdoor activities, drawing in nature enthusiasts from far and wide.

Other small towns in Northern Southland include Garston, Mossburn, Riversdale, Athol and Waikaia. Every settlement comes with its own charm and southern hospitality.


Northern Southland

You won't want to miss...

When planning your trip to Northern Southland, make sure you check out these iconic and unmissable events!

Northern Southland Townships

Around the Mountains Cycle Trail, Lumsden
Chris McLennan


Lumsden is Northern Southland’s main hub and a major travellers junction, providing access to…

Mossburn Farm Animals
Chris McLennan


Mossburn is a small town in rural, northern Southland, located in a very scenic area with the…

Around The Mountains Cycle Trail, Garston
Great South


Garston is a small town in northern Southland and the most inland settlement in New…

Athol Bridge - Biking - Northern Southland
Chris McLennan


Athol is a small country town that lies on the Southern Scenic Route. Nowadays, farming is…


Riversdale is a small rural town located between the Hokonui Hills and the Mataura River in the…


A former gold mining town, Waikaia, is progressively becoming a popular tourist destination and a…

Northern Southland Roadtrips

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The Rugged Rural

3 Days

295 km


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…

Takitimu Mountains - Southland, New Zealand
Jeremy Pierce

From Farms to Fiords

1-3 Days

325 km


Discover the rural farm life in Southland via the Southern Scenic Route as you sit back, relax and reconnect with nature. After you enjoy this rural tourism itinerary, you will return to…

Perenuka Mountain Bike Park
Perenuka Mountain Bike Park - Credit Great South

4 days Adventure Mountain Biking in Southland

4 Days


For those who like a challenging mix of off-road climbing and technical descents across all types of terrain this epic 3-day mountain biking itinerary takes you to three of Southlands most…

Northern Southland Biking - Welcome Rock Trails
Videocopter NZ

Heartland Agritourism Adventures

1-3 Days

456 km


Keen to get off the beaten track? This adventure will take you into the outdoors and fresh air of rural Southland, making you wonder why you hadn’t done it sooner. Starting along the rugged…

The Free Spirit

3 Days

250 km


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…

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Explore Murihiku Southland

Invercargill Central
Stacy Williamson


Waihōpai Invercargill is the regional capital and commercial hub of Southland. Founded in the 1850s, it is New Zealand’s southernmost city - and one of the southernmost cities in the world. Numerous… Read More


Te Rua-o-te-Moko Fiordland is a place of extraordinary scenic beauty. One of New Zealand’s oldest tourism drawcards, this rugged and remote region offers awe-inspiring landscapes and a wide range of… Read More

Stewart Island

Rakiura Stewart Island is the southernmost and smallest island of the three main islands of New Zealand. Just 30km from the South Island, it is a perfect retreat for those seeking peace, quiet, and… Read More

Florence Hill Lookout, The Catlins
Florence Hill Lookout, The Catlins

The Catlins

The Catlins, the spectacular coastal stretch between Balclutha and Invercargill, boasts a rugged beauty and untouched quality that is magnetic. Here you’ll find a world of native forests fringed by high… Read More

Gore District

Maruawai Gore and its surrounding district, sometimes called Eastern Southland, boasts an eclectic mix of heritage, culture, and industry. It is famous for its fly-fishing on the Mataura River, colourful… Read More


Southland’s port, Motupōhue Bluff, lies thirty kilometres south of Invercargill. The town, which is the southernmost settlement on mainland New Zealand, is home to the iconic Bluff Oyster & Food… Read More

Central Southland
Sam Deuchrass

Central Southland

Central Southland is 1.5 million hectares of lush, rolling farmland. The district has always thrived on agriculture, although sawmills, flax and linen-flax industries, lime works, brickworks and tile works… Read More

Mores Scenic Reserve Lookout, Western Southland
Sam Deuchrass

Western Southland

Tucked between the towering peaks of Fiordland to the west, the Takitimu mountain range to the north, and the wild ocean to the south, Western Southland boasts spectacular unspoilt scenery and limitless… Read More