The capital of Southland is Invercargill, a town of approximately 50,000 inhabitants which has elegant Victorian and Edwardian buildings alongside magnificent parks and gardens. Similar to Dunedin to the north, the city was founded by Scottish immigrants. The city is built around the magnificent Queens Park which is 80 hectares in size and is filled with gardens, wildlife and sporting areas – there is even an 18-hole golf course in the park, and houses the Southland Museum. The other major town of the region is Bluff, which has a population of about 2000 people and is famous for its oysters.
The Catlins comprise rural heartland and podocarp forests, rugged coastlines, hidden lakes and stunning waterfalls. The natural landscapes are enthralling and the wildlife is extraordinary.
The Catlins’ southern location means long summer days perfect for exploring. Vivid sunsets and long twilight evenings lead on to ideal star-gazing opportunities. Rainy days bring fresh growth to pastures and forest, while strong winds shape the forests and raise impressive waves along the coast. Come prepared to enjoy dynamic weather conditions.
Stewart Island lies off the coast and is a large island with approximately 700 kilometres of coastline, but only 20 kilometres of roads. The island can be reached by ferry from Bluff. This is an isolated, but ultimately fascinating place, and the island is a haven for native bird species, both land and water-based, and the most likely place to encounter a kiwi in its natural habitat.
Southland is home to some of the world's rarest species. Apart from Kiwis, there are yellow-eyed penguins, Hookers sea lions and Hector's dolphins (the smallest in the world). The tuatara, which is a relic of the dinosaurs, can also be found in the region. The kakapo is also a famous resident; this ground-dwelling parrot was once voted "world's most-loved species". Mutton birds, which were a major source of protein for the Maori and early settlers, are also found in Southland.
Fiordland is one of the most dramatic and beautiful parts of New Zealand. Absorb the breathtaking treasures of this region by water, air or hiking. Carved by glaciers over 100,000 years, the landscape is one where waterfalls cascade hundreds of metres into deep black fiords; where ancient rainforest untouched by man cling to mountains, and where shimmering lakes and granite peaks look as they did a thousand years ago.
Fiordland National Park is a World Heritage Site and includes Milford, Dusky and Doubtful sounds. Milford Sound was described by Rudyard Kipling as the Eighth Wonder of the World; take a scenic flight over it and you will understand why.
This really is the place for hiking. Fiordland National Park has three of New Zealand’s ‘great walks’ - the Milford, Kepler and Routburn tracks.
The Infinity Experience
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Content & assistance provided by Tourism New Zealand.