Keen to get off the beaten track? This adventure will take you into rural Southland's outdoors and fresh air, making you wonder why you hadn’t done it sooner.
Starting along the rugged Catlins coast with its gorgeous beaches, travel through the lush green meadows of Gore before reaching the majestic beauty of Fiordland. Along the way, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to meet the locals, sample quality produce, experience rural farmstays and the wide range of activities that make up Heartland Southland. But don’t take our word for it; come and see why Southland is arguably known as the agritourism capital of New Zealand.
1 to 3 Days
456km (one way)
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…
Beresford Heights is located in the heart of The Catlins, offering boutique accommodation, surrounded by breath taking views. This newly built retreat is the perfect romantic, off the grid get away for couples craving a luxurious…
Earthlore Wildlife Gardens
Earthlore is a unique conservation centre in Catlins with genuine eco-friendly experiences. Visit their ‘Bug City’ garden - full of fun signage from a bug's perspective, the food forest - where you can also play a round of mini frisbee golf (like mini-golf but less serious) or catch the Great Orlando's Magical Flea Circus Puppet Show. Offering a wide variety of insects, fauna and interactive activities, both children and adults alike are sure to have fun at Earthlore.
Eat - Whistling Frog Cafe
The Whistling Frog Cafe specialises in locally sourced, homemade, and home-grown foods. Try Chef Tom Peake's award-winning 'Kiwi Pie' or his craft-beer battered fish and chips. Farm-to-table meat, lamb, and free-range poultry are available, as are vegetarian salads, risotto, and gluten-free choices. They also have a great range of New Zealand wines, craft-brewed tap beers and freshly prepared “Zee” coffees.
Catlins Coastal ATV Experience
The Catlins is home to incredible wildlife, spectacular waterfalls, magnificent native forests, and gorgeous beaches. Discover one of our greatest environmental destinations in style on the Catlins Coastal ATV Experience. Meeting at Mohua Park, you will visit a private farm on the Catlins Coast, touring rugged farmlands with sheep and cattle grazing the paddocks beside you. See various landmarks and attractions, learn about the different farm practices and lap up the wilderness of the region as you are driven along peaks and cliffs with amazing sea views and windswept landscapes.
Stay – Catlins Mohua Park
After a day full of adventure, Catlins Mohua Park is the perfect place to stay and relax. Offering a little luxury in their four eco-cottages, you will appreciate the panoramic views of rolling farmland and the native bush setting. We highly recommend opting for the bed and breakfast option to make the most of your peaceful outlook, not to mention the treat of eating fresh produce straight from their garden.
There are a few excellent accommodation options in the Catlins; for big groups, look at Catlins River Station House with BBQ and all-weather deck or the amazing Tiromoana - Catlins Ocean View Accommodation. For couples, the beautiful Skylark Bed & Breakfast might take your fancy, or a dinner bed and breakfast option at Greenwood Farmstay, within walking distance to the stunning Purakaunui Falls. For those embracing the wilderness, get off the grid entirely at the remote Beresford Heights or the modern Tahakopa Bay Retreat.
Come and meet the menagerie of exotic animals at Thickthorne Llamas including a flock of Gotland Pelt sheep. Full of personality, incredibly cute, and very, very photogenic, kids will love spending time at Thickthorne Llamas and learning more about the fibre-crafting process which transforms raw fleece to quality knitting yarn. If you are or know a knitter, you won’t be able to resist the giftware.
Eat – Niagara Falls Café
Niagara Falls Café is set in an old schoolhouse, with a beautiful garden and outdoor seating area. The food is hearty, natural, and simple whilst most of it is homemade, homegrown or locally sourced. The café is famous for the type of warmth and sincerity only found in a family-owned business and the sun that streams in through the windows. Enjoy a meal on the deck, whilst the children roll around in the grass playing with a variety of lawn games. This café is a bright sanctuary for local residents, an oasis for weary tourists and a place for everyone to feel welcome.
Lignite Pit Secret Garden
The Lignite Pit and Secret Garden is a work of art, sprawling over 16 hectares, the tranquil garden has transformed a disused mine site. Numerous paths wind themselves around the lake, where you can take your time to explore the native flora, fauna and aviaries dotted around the place. Kids will love discovering the several tiny islands, the two waterfalls and if you are in luck, some friendly ducks trailing after you on your adventure. Alternatively, for a moment of Zen, sit in the café overlooking the gardens and enjoy some home-baked treats.
Hokonui Moonshine Museum
Gore’s colourful past of whisky distilling and bootlegging is brought to life at the Hokonui Moonshine Museum and boutique moonshine distillery. Located in Gore's heritage precinct, the museum is as true as the whisky itself. Learn about the infamous McRae clan's run-ins with local cops and their cunning distilling methods which Gore celebrated then and continues to celebrate now.
Stay – Twin River Cottages
Twin River Cottages offer comfortable accommodation on a thriving sheep and cattle farm in the heart of Eastern Southland, just five minutes from Gore. The stylish, self-contained one-bedroom cottage is quiet, spacious, and inviting, with panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. It's ideal for those who want some freedom and a chance to relax and experience the tranquilly of life on a New Zealand farm.
Alternative accommodation options include a number of little farmletts like The Reservation B&B, Wentworth Heights, Hokonui Bed & Breakfast. For a more in-depth option, venture further out to Nithdale Farmstay where you can learn about the station's success as an award-winning sheep and beef operation with a Romney and Suffolk Stud.
Visiting our dairy farm allows you to see firsthand the daily operation of safe milk production with the help of new technology in the field. Touring our dairy farm, as a classroom, family, or tour group can be a fun and educational way to…
Within the Experience Mandeville precinct is Miss Cocoa Coffee Cafe, housed in the historic former Mandeville Railway Hotel building. Our cafe is open during daytime hours for delicious meals and treats, with vegetarian, vegan, gluten free…
Dairy Pryde Farm Tour
Take a drive through the rolling hills of Eastern Southland to arrive at Dairy Pryde Farm. The friendly team will give you an in-depth tour of the farm, explain the milking process and give you an insight into farm life. Visiting Dairy Pryde Farm allows you to witness firsthand the day-to-day operation of safe milk production using cutting-edge technologies. Touring the dairy farm is a fun and instructive opportunity to get up close and personal with dairy cows and the farmers who create the healthy dairy products your family enjoys.
Eat - Miss Cocoa Cafe
You will find Miss Cocoa Café housed in the historic premises of what was once the Mandeville Railway Hotel. This cafe provides tasty food and amazing coffee - all in a beautiful rural setting right beside the airfield. Watch the vintage tiger moths take off while you enjoy your coffee or a famous Southland cheese roll.
Rustic Rides Horse Trek
Embark on a Rustic Rides Horse Trek in Northern Southland to explore New Zealand's stunning high country. Choose a morning ride to partake in Devonshire tea and homemade scones served with jam and cream, or an afternoon ride to sample some famous New Zealand wine and cheese.
Stay – 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 biking and hiking with accommodation along the way. Their back country huts offer farm style accommodation at every level. A restored woolshed with outdoor baths or a rustic hut up the mountain with magnificent views, sunsets and stars.
Alternative accommodation options include the picturesque 1870's stone homestead ‘Naylor House’, or Nokomai Valley Lodge who supply merino wool to two well-known brands, Smartwool (USA) and Icebreaker (NZ).
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…
Discover the beautiful high country of New Zealand on horseback. We offer exciting, intimate treks for groups of 1-2people, suitable for both beginners and experienced riders, on our five well-loved trekking horses. Rides last 2.5…