DEEP SOUTH (SOUTHLAND) - HISTORY
The southernmost region of New Zealand, referred to as the Southland region, is home to Browne Falls, the country's highest waterfall, Lake Hauroko, the deepest lake, and Fiordland National Park - dominated by spectacular mountains, fjords and glacial lakes. This region also boasts fertile farmlands and thrives on sheep and dairy farming, fishing, forestry, and hydropower.
Back in the 16th century, the Waitaha tribe inhabited the South Island and over centuries of conquest, marriage and interaction with other tribes, they became the Mauri people we know today. In the 18th century, European whalers and missionaries arrived in Southland and the land was eventually purchased from the Mauri for European settlement with dairy farming and gold mining providing growth for the region.
Over the following decades, Scottish settlers fleeing from an economic depression in Scotland made their way to this region, later joined by the Irish and English as well. Today, this sparsely inhabited province consists mostly of the descendants of these Europeans as well as a small population of Maori. The Scottish influences in Dunedin and Invercargill, and the wild and natural beauty abundant in Te Anau and Milford Sound make this region one of the top 10 places to visit in New Zealand.
DEEP SOUTH (SOUTHLAND) - ACTIVITIES
South east from Queenstown, the coastal university town of Dunedin is a beautiful city forged out of the gold rush of the 1850's. Admire its grand Edwardian and Victorian architecture by visiting Larnach Castle and Dunedin Railway Station, or experience some working history atSpeights Brewery, founded in 1876 and still brewing ale from its original site on Rattray Street. Walk through the gardens of the city, coastal tracks, and the quirky neighbourhood sites such as Baldwin Street, the world's steepest street. The warmth and energy of Queenstown make it a great place to start your exploration of the Southland. This beautiful city on the shores of Lake Wakatipu has a vast appeal to adventure seekers with activities such as bungy jumping, canyon swinging, and white water rafting not to mention months of skiing and snowboarding on offer from June to October. If you prefer a slightly slower pace, then potter through the markets, galleries, and museums and at the end of the day relax and indulge in the superb food and wine of the region.
Between Dunedin and Invercargill lies the Catlins Coast, arguably the most spectacular terrain with seemingly endless rivers, waterfalls and coastal bays. The steep headland of Nugget Point will provide a feast of photo opportunities for wildlife lovers. From here you can spy out various species of penguins, Hooker's sea lions, Elephant seals, fur seals, and even Hectors dolphins. Not to be missed are the 180 million year old fossilised forest at Curio Bay and the acoustics of the Cathedral Caves at Waipati Beach.
The wide streets, beautiful parks and charming heritage architecture of Invercargill welcome visitors to the most southernmost city in the world. Explore the Southland Museum and Gallery or wander through the gardens at Queens Park, or enjoy the panoramic views at the Stirling Point signpost. Be sure to try the fresh produce of the region from the beautiful cheeses to the Bluff Oysters that New Zealand is famous for. If you have the time, take the ferry across to Stewart Island and experience the Rakiura Track where you can get up close with the brown kiwi, the blue or yellow-eyed penguins. With over 280km of walking tracks, you can spend an afternoon or several days admiring the wildlife of New Zealand's third island.
Head north from Invercargill towards the "walking capital of the world" the lakeside town of Te Anau, a perfect base for New Zealands Great Walks. The world renowned 53km Milford Track will take you over the MacKinnon Pass, past the dramatic Sutherland Falls at Lake Quill, to the majestic beauty of Milford Sound. Look down on the forests, glacial streams and rivers on the 32km Routeburn Track and admire the views of the dramatic fjords surrounded by the Kepler Mountains on the 60km Kepler Track.
DEEP SOUTH (SOUTHLAND) - ACCOMMODATION The highlight of your trip to Southland is the spectacular Milford Sound, and your Deep South itinerary includes the Milford Explorer, a spectacular journey that includes a trip through the scenic Southern Alps, across lowland pastures and alpine fields to arrive at the Milford Sound. Once at the sound, a two hour boat tour will explore the dramatic scenery of this glacial fjord with its sheer rock faces and cascading waterfalls. The beauty of this region will stay with you long beyond this trip.
Kiwi experience recommends On Top Backpackers in Dunedin which is located above a cosy café & bar located in the heart of Dunedin. There are rooms to suit everyone, from dormitories to private rooms with and without an ensuite. Enjoy a spacious sun deck, pool tables and even a stylish cinema! Rooms range from $27 to $89.
In Invercargill, consider staying at Tuatara Lodge, which offers premium accommodation without breaking the budget. Each room comes with FREE linen, limited secure parking and WIFI internet. A variety of rooms are available from solo to family sized with rates starting at $25.
For a base to explore Milford Sound and the New Zealands Great Walks, check out the Te Anau Lakefront Backpacker Hostel with a range of rooms from doubles with ensuites to dorm rooms and even a tent site with rates ranging from $18 to $88. Facilities include a laptop hotspot, communal kitchens and lounge rooms, as well as a log fire, games, CD player, piano and guitar. Situated on Lake Te Anau, this well maintained accommodation is just a short walk to the village.