Southland is the southernmost region in the South Island of New Zealand. It boasts stunning landscapes from the high mountains and icy glaciers to green and lush grasslands on the plains where agriculture is king. The linchpins of the economy are farming, forestry and horticulture.
The population within the Invercargill Council area is around 52,000, within the Southland Council area 30,000 and within the Gore Council area 13,000 making a total of 95,000.
It has about 1600 sunshine hours per year with an average temperature of 15 degrees Celsius.
- Bluff – southernmost point and home to the country's best oysters
- Gore – world's capital of brown trout fishing, and New Zealand's capital of country music
- Invercargill – the country's southernmost city, and the commercial heart of Southland
- Mataura – brown trout fishing, and a local museum
- Te Anau – the attractions of the Lake Te Anau area, and gateway to Fiordland
- The Catlins – forest, beaches and wildlife
- Fiordland and Milford Sound
- Stewart Island – the most southerly of New Zealand's three main islands with bush walks (including the Rakiura Track), birdwatching and kayaking
Many Southlanders, influenced by their Scots ancestry, speak with a Southland burr, in which they roll their rs. This is the most distinctive regional accent in New Zealand.
- To get to Southland from an overseas country, the closest International Airport is in Queenstown. The airport is located two and a half hours from southland.
- Domestic flights are available from Air New Zealand. These flights travel consistently from popular North and South island destinations to Invercargil, which is North region of Southland.
- Entering Southland by Boat is also possible. Many cruises depart from Australia, other New Zealand ports and neighbouring countries. Webjet NZ Cruises, P&O Cruises and Princess Cruises do consistent runs. However some cruises do not berth on the docks.
The wide roads, picturesque views and minimal traffic, hiring a car is ideal. Invercargil airport offers a wide variety of rental cars. Having a current driver's license from your home country, or an International Driving Permit allows you to hire a car for up to 12 months, as long as you are over the age of 21.
- Enjoy the Victorian era architecture in Invercargill and don't miss the Southland Museum and Art Gallery there.
- Southern Scenic Route, drive the coastal route from Invercargill to Dunedin.
- Drive to Tuatapere and walk the Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track. Stroll through Riverton, known as a historic fishing town and popular holiday spot.
- Then on to the Catlins and enjoy views over native forest towards the Pacific Ocean. Make a detour to Curio Bay to see its 160 million year old fossilized forest.
- Celebrate finishing the route in Dunedin with a Speight's in the many pubs and cafés.
- There are many other walks on the route.
- Explore Fiordland National Park. Make time to see Milford Sound (the most well-known and accessible of the fiords) and Doubtful Sound (the deepest fiord in NZ)
- Explore The Catlins and walk through the native forest and along the coast. Look out for the fur seals, Hector's dolphins and yellow-eyed penguins.
Backpacker hostels are a cheap alternative to motels. Most offer double, single, twin or shared rooms.