An area known for its towering mountains, fiords, raging waterfalls, art and wineries — there's always plenty to do and see on this scenic route through the south.
This is an epic journey through some incredible terrain. You’ll find yourself gazing at one incredible sight after another it’ll be almost overwhelming, so make the most of every day and enjoy every minute. From coastal experiences, wildlife and fiords to nature walks and mountain biking, there’s so much to see and do that you’ll definitely need a helping hand. That’s where we come in. Check out our southern scenic route below to start planning your trip to New Zealand’s South Island and building your own customised itinerary.
Every season brings something new on the South Island. Spring sees cherry blossom, daffodils and lambs. Winter, of course, has its own glittering snow-plenty charm. But, autumn — which runs March through to May — is particularly sensational. With the changing leaves painting the countryside rich golds and reds. The days are warm and sunny, perfect for outdoor activities. Really, you just can’t lose.
Christchurch is the gateway to the South Island and a charming experience in itself. There are 13 daily non-stop flights to Christchurch from Australia’s main airports. After taking time to explore the city, drive down to Dunedin and then through the Catlins, Balclutha and Invercargill with a visit to Stewart Island and onto Fiordland.
Allow $100–$150 a day for petrol, worthy entertainment and cheap and cheerful eats, and if you tend to enjoy the finer things in life, give yourself upwards of $250 a day to take some bigger adventures, find some luxe ways to relax and eat some truly sensational food.
The Catlins Coast. On the way from Dunedin to Invercargill, this scenic coastline is one of the most impressive wild and natural landscapes you can find. Thick green forest, waterfalls and a rugged coast with incredible rock formations, caves, tunnels and blowholes — it’s an absolute paradise for nature lovers. Hot tip: keep your eyes peeled for sea lions, penguins and dolphins.
Plan Your Journey Through the Southern Scenic Route
Track down the must-visit local haunts.
Venture Through the Scenic South Island
Do as the locals do.
From handmade chocolates to sticky barbecue ribs and the almighty bluff oyster, here's how to eat your way through the Southern Island.
1. Seriously Good Chocolate Company
2. Louie's Cafe & Tapas Bar
3. Buster Crabb
4. Prohibition Smokehouse
5. Bluff Oysters
Take a tour of Speight's Brewery or taste test the local drops at Bacchus Wine Bar — whatever tipple tickles your fancy, we've got you covered.
1. Invercargill Brewery
2. Speight's Brewery
3. Bacchus Wine Bar & Restaurant
4. The Batch Cafe
5. The New Zealand Whisky Collection
For the thrillseekers, here's a list of adrenaline-charged activities designed to get your heart racing, including a mountain bike trail and ghost tour.
1. Mountain Bike Sandy Point
2. Fiordland Horse Treks
3. Fiordland Quad Biking
4. Hair Raiser Ghost Tours
5. Shark Dive New Zealand
Relax in a soothing onsen or take a scenic train ride — here's how to rest, relax and rejuvenate around the South Island.
1. The Spa at Nugget Point
2. Onsen Hot Pools
3. Queens Park
4. Taieri Gorge Railway
5. Milford Sound Observatory
Hike around Milford Sound or explore 12,000-year-old caves and get back to nature.
1. Milford Sound Lodge
2. Te Anau Glow Worm Caves
3. Doubtful Sound
4. Dig This Invercargill
5. Tunnel Beach
There’s a contemporary gallery and a buzzing live music venue. Get your a culture fix with these five activities.