With long sunny days, a diverse landscape, great food and drink and plenty of outdoor activities, Southland is the perfect summer destination. Home to five of New Zealand's Great Walks, two multiday cycle trails, a multitude of summer events and the best driving route in New Zealand, you are spoilt for choice to keep you entertained you might just have to come back next summer too, to finish off this list of the Top Southland Summer Experiences.
Explore the Southern Scenic Route
The Southern Scenic Route is a road trip like no other. This incredible journey has been ranked one of the top 10 drives of the world, and for good reason. It is just over 600km of spectacular natural and cultural attractions and exciting activities, such as wildlife viewing, short walks, mountain biking, surfing, fishing, boating, and tramping.
The Best Summer Walks
With on average 14 hours of daylight in Summer, the longest daylight hours in the country, Summer is the best time to strap on your hiking boots and explore the variety of tracks Southland has to offer. From multiday Great Walks like the Rakiura Track to short 20-minute waterfall hikes like Pūrākaunui Falls, there are walks suitable for all time frames and all abilities. Check out our Great Walking Guide to find the best hike for you.
Get on ya bike
Feel the wind in your hair as you weave through the pine forest at Sandy Point. Experience the heritage of the goldmining days at Welcome Rock. Witness some spectacular views in Northern Southland as you follow the Around the Mountain Cycle Trail. Hone in your skills at the Hamilton Park BMX Track. Whether you are after all level mountain bike tacks, exploring the regions push bike cycle trails or racing around our many towns BMX tracks, Southland has plenty of options to suits all types of riders. Check out our Top 10 Cycle Tracks for more inspiration.
Burt Munro Challenge
Immerse yourself in an event that embraces and is embraced by an entire city. Where eccentricity, persistence and the spirit of amateur endeavour are respected and celebrated. Where locals wave and cheer as you cruise past, and where strangers become friends. Every summer thousands of people and motorbikes flock to the Southernmost city of Invercargill to experience the Burt Munro Challenge. You’ll never feel closer to a legend.
Go blueberry picking
There is nothing better than tasting the sweet small blueberries that you picked off the bush yourself. Every year in Summer, Blueberry Country, New Zealand's Largest Blueberry Orchard opens its gates to the public to come and harvest their own bounty of blueberries. Taking a wonderful drive through central southland you will reach the Otautau farm where you can spend the afternoon picking blueberries or relaxing in the cafe, eating a fresh blueberry ice cream. Yum!
Meet you at the beach
Southland is home to some of the best, golden sandy beaches in New Zealand. No matter the coastline, there is always a beach close by. Just past Invercargill there is Ōreti beach, one of only a handful of beaches you can drive on in New Zealand. In the Catlins there are several beaches that are a great spot to catch a glimpse of our some of our rare wildlife. Curio Bay is also home to a colony of rare, Yellow-Eyed Penguins (Hoiho) and a resident pod of rare Hector's Dolphin (Pahu). Up the coast at Surat Bay, Sea Lions love to sunbath on the beach. Heading to Western Southland, Mitchell's Bay Beach in Riverton is a famous ice-cream stop or further down the coast, you will find Colac Bay (Oraka), one of New Zealand’s top surfing spots. Whether you are taking a romantic sunset stroll along the beach or surfing a big wave in one of the beautiful bays, a Southland summer isn't complete without getting to the beach.
Have an Island Escape
An Island escape to Stewart Island that is. Stewart Island caters to both the laid-back traveller seeking a relaxing island haven and the traveller seeking adventure. Kick back at the quirky Bunkhouse Theatre, peruse the Rakiura Museum, or shoot a round of golf at the Ringa Ringa course. Discover the island’s 28km of roads in style on a Tuk Tuk or an electric bike and explore further afield with a guided walk, tour, or overnight boat cruise.
Jet Boat lake to coast in Western Southland
If adventure sport is your thing, then unleash the adrenaline on a jet boat ride across Lake Hauroko and down the Wairaurahiri River to the southern coast. The river is 27km of rugged rock strewn grade three rapids that drops 200m to sea level. These conditions make a ride on a jet boat down the Wairaurahiri River incredibly fast and exhilarating.
Play a round of Golf
What better way to spend your next holiday than with a round of golf on one of the many courses in New Zealand’s deep south? Southland boasts 26 courses ideal for long, relaxed games or competitive rounds, and it won’t cost the earth. Check out our Southland Golf Guide for more ideas.