Te Anau, Invercargill & Stewart Island
Southland is a green pastoral province in contrast to the dryness of Otago to the north. The region is famous for its bluff oysters and abundant seafood. 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.
The rugged region of Southland is found at the bottom tip of the South Island, and encompasses Te Anau, Invercargill and Stewart Island.
Te Anau is the base for Fiordland National Park, and sits at the edge of Lake Te Anau. There are a number of activities to choose from here - hiking, fishing, taking a cruise on the lake, or visiting the Glowworm caves. The famous Milford Road begins in the centre of town.
The largest town in Southland, Invercargill celebrates nature, with a number of lovely parks. Anderson Park on the outskirts of town, sits in 24 hectares of beautifully landscaped gardens and incorporates a traditional Maori house. For a great view over the city, climb the 40m Water Tower, one of the town's most famous landmarks. The town of Bluff, 25km from Invercargill, is the oldest European town in New Zealand and home to Bluff Hill, an extinct volcano with a range of walkways. Renowned for its oysters, the Bluff Oyster Festival is held in May each year.
Over 85% of this wild and windy little island is National Park, so provides the perfect opportunity for hiking, with hikes ranging from a couple of hours to overnight. Fishing and diving are also on offer, along with inlet cruises and marine nature cruises. You can get to Stewart Island by a one hour ferry ride from the town of Bluff.
- Shop for a Bargain: Invercargill has a number of good quality antique and second-hand shops.
- Visit the Glowworm caves in Te Anau: After a cruise over the lake to the Grotto, walk deep into the 15 000 year old cave, lit by hundreds of tiny dots of light.
- Take a Boat Cruise off Stewart Island: Along with secluded inlets, you might even see penguins or dolphins.
- Stewart Island: This fascinating island can be reached by ferry from Bluff on the mainland and offers an unspoilt glimpse into the native flora of New Zealand.
- Queens Park: This huge urban park in the centre of Invercargill defines the city and is a wonderful place to explore.
- Southland Seafood Festival: This festival takes place every year in May and showcases the regions magnificent culinary highlight.