Southland is known as the true heart of the South Island. Rolling pastures, majestic mountains, winding rivers and long secluded beaches feature in the rugged landscape and there are some unique attractions and activities to enjoy. Southland includes the city and towns of Invercargill, Gore and Bluff as well as the eco tourism giant of The Caitlans.
Stewart Island is an easy ferry ride away from the town of Bluff which incidentally, is home to some of the best tasting oysters in the world not to mention the delicacies of blue cod and crayfish. Invercargill is the major City and welcomes visitors with a fine array of park like gardens, excellent accommodation and plenty of attractions and activities. Stewart Island is one of the few pristine environments left on the planet making it the perfect home for 100’s of species of birds including the brown kiwi. Chances of seeing a kiwi in its natural habitat are higher here than any where else in New Zealand. The Catlins Coast is another nature lover’s dream. Here you can walk through beech forests and ancient native pockets along a purpose built river walk.
Out on the coast you may encounter sea lions, fur seals, dolphins and a prolific range of birdlife including gannets and the rare yellow eyed penguin. Southland attractions and activities include award winning museums, boat cruises, kayaking, jet boating and scenic flights. There are a great range of Southland tours to take advantage of and with the countryside so rugged and wild it is well worth the effort to try as many as you can. The benefit of experienced guides and local knowledge really comes in to its own in the Deep South. Eco tours are the most popular combining bush walking and boat cruises with bird watching, wildlife spotting and heritage attractions.
There are a couple of interactive Museums in Southland which provide film footage and historical collections of New Zealand’s first settlers that feature the names and faces that have carved out a storyboard of how it was to live on the edge of nature. Southland accommodation is available to suit all styles and budgets from backpackers, motels and bed and breakfasts through to luxury hotels, lodges and resorts. You can stay in an urban environment or relax in the country with good old southern hospitality. So get off the beaten track and make the time to visit Southland, it really is where you will find the true essence of New Zealand.