Southland Region of New Zealand

Welcome to Southland, the southernmost region of New Zealand! This region is a diverse and scenic destination – spanning from the dramatic fjords of Fiordland National Park, to the golden beaches and spectacular wildlife of the Catlins. Visitors can taste the world-famous Bluff oysters, or stand at the southernmost point of the South Island of New Zealand at Slope Point!

An infographic showing the attractions and highlights of the Southland Region of New Zealand

An Overview of the Southland Region of New Zealand

Southland Location:Southland is New Zealand‘s southernmost region, and covers the south of the South Island, as well as Stewart Island!
Bordering Regions:West Coast and Otago
Region Size (km2):29,574.53 km2
Population:~33,000 (June 2023)
Main Cities and Towns:Invercargill, Gore, Bluff, Te Anau
Most Popular Tourist Destinations:Fiordland National Park
The Catlins
Stewart Island / Rakiura National Park
The World’s Fastest Indian
Bluff (and it’s Oysters!)
Slope Point

Highlights of the Southland Region

  • It is the southernmost region of New Zealand, and has a diverse landscape that includes mountains, lakes, fiords, native forests, golden coastlines, and islands.
  • It has a rich Maori and European heritage, with a variety of cultural attractions; such as the Murihiku Marae, the World’s Fastest Indian, and the Bluff Oyster and Food Festival!
  • Southland is home to some of the most iconic and spectacular natural wonders of New Zealand, such as the Fiordland National Park and the Catlins!

Places to Visit in Southland

Fiordland National Park

Fiordland National Park, Southland Region of New Zealand

The Fiordland National Park, nestled along the western coastline of the Southland region, is filled with some of the most stunning and diverse landscapes in the world! It is the largest National Park in New Zealand, and covers over 12,000 square kilometers of rugged mountains, crystal-clear lakes, forests, and fiords. It is a part of the Te Waipounamu World Heritage Site, which celebrates and protects this incredible region.

Some of the most iconic things to do while visiting the magnificent Fiordland National Park include cruising down the breathtaking Milford Sound, hiking the Milford Track, or seeing the glow-worms in the Te Anau Caves.

Milford Sound

Milford Sound is a breathtaking fiord that lies in the heart of the Fiordland National Park, and is one of the most visited places in New Zealand! This Sound was formed by glacial erosion over millions of years, and is now characterised by a dramatic landscape of towering peaks, lush rainforest, and numerous waterfalls.

One of the best ways to explore Milford Sound is by taking a cruise, where you can enjoy the beauty of the sounds, spot some of the native wildlife in the area, and even stand in the spray of the waterfalls!

Milford Sound cruise, Southland Region,
 New Zealand
Cruising around the Milford Sound!

Glow Worm Caves in Te Anau

Hidden deep in the Fiordland National Park is a maze of underground limestone caves, which are a pretty incredible place to visit! These caves are lit by the blue-green light of hundreds of glowworms – creating a magical and otherworldly experience.

The Glow Worm Caves are only accessible by boat, which takes you across the crystal-clear Lake Te Anau to the entrance of the caves. Knowledgeable and friendly guides lead you through the caves, where you can marvel at the formations of stalactites and stalagmites, before drifting in silent darkness through the glowworm grotto – truly a unique and memorable experience!

The Catlins

The Catlins, Southland Region of New Zealand

The Catlins in a hidden gem of the Southland region, and spans the wild and beautiful coastline from Bluff to Balclutha. It is filled with things to do, from penguin spotting at Curio Bay, to exploring the incredible waterfalls, caves, forests and beaches that dot the region.

Curio Bay

Curio Bay, The Catlins Southland

One of the highlights of the Catlins is Curio Bay. Curio Bay is famous for its petrified forest, which is over 180 million years old! The forest was covered by volcanic eruptions and flood, and created the fossils of ancient tree stumps and logs you can walk through today.


Yellow-eyed penguin footprints, The Catlins, Southland New Zealand

Curio Bay is home to some incredible New Zealand wildlife! Grab your binoculars and keep your eyes peeled for the endangered Yellow-Eyed Penguins that nest in the flax, or spot the local pod of Hectors Dolphins as they play in the waves in the nearby Porpoise Bay.

Stewart Island | Rakiura National Park

Stewart Island, Southland Region of New Zealand

Right at the very bottom of the South Island is Stewart Island – the 3rd largest and southernmost island of New Zealand! It is also known at Rakiura, or ‘glowing skies’ in Maori, due to the presence of the Southern Lights that light up the night sky.

Stewart Island is filled has a incredibly diverse landscape, from the stunning coastline to dense native forest, mountains and lakes. It is also home to many native New Zealand animals, such as the Kiwi, Kakapo, and Yellow-Eyed Penguin! There are a number of awesome ways to explore Stewart Island, from hiking the Rakiura Track to cruising the Paterson Inlet.

Slope Point

Slope Point is the southernmost Point of the South Island of New Zealand, and is located in the Southland Region! It is a fun and bucket-list spot to visit during your New Zealand adventures!

Towns in the Southland Region


Invercargill, Southland Region of New Zealand

Invercargill is the southernmost city in New Zealand, and the centre of the Southland Region! It has a rich Maori and European heritage, and is known for its wide streets, beautiful buildings, and friendly people.

The World’s Fastest Indian

Invercargill’s claim-to-fame is being the home to the New Zealand speed bike racer Burt Munro, who set the land speed record in the 1950’s and 60’s! You can see his original Indian motorcycle, as well as other related paraphernalia at the E. Hayes Motorworks Collection in Invercargill!

Te Anau

Te Anau is a town nestled on the eastern shores of Lake Te Anau, the largest lake in the South Island of New Zealand! Te Anau is the gateway to the Fiordland National Park, and a great place to stay while exploring the Milford Sound. It offers a variety of cafes, restaurants and places to stay during your Southland holiday.

Lake Te Anau, Fiordland National Park, Southland Region of New Zealand
Lake Te Anau


Gore is a charming town in the eastern part of the Southland region, and is located on the banks of the Mataura River. It is known as the ‘Country Music Capital of New Zealand‘, and hosts the annual New Zealand Gold Guitar Awards, the country’s largest music festival. Gore is also famous for its brown trout fishing, and has a large statue of a trout in the main street.


Bluff, Southland Region of New Zealand

Bluff is a charming and rustic seaport found at the southern end of the South Island of New Zealand, and is the departure point for the ferry to Stewart Island!

Bluff Oysters

Bluff is world famous for its Bluff Oysters, which are considered to be the best in the world! You can taste some of these incredible oysters at a local cafe or restaurant, or join the annual Bluff Oyster and Food Festival, which celebrates the amazing Southland seafood!