When you are planning your itinerary around the South Island of New Zealand The Southern Scenic Route should be high on your list.
This heritage highway is an excellent link between Milford Sound and Dunedin via the Catlins Coast. Along the way you can explore Milford Sound, Te Anau, Riverton, The Catlins, Dunedin and if you have a few days up your sleeve Stewart Island as well.
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A typical journey along the Southern Scenic Route might start in Te Anau, home of the rare Takahe ( a large flightless bird once thought to be extinct – see them at the Wildlife Centre ). Allow at least a day if you plan to visit Milford Sound. The road from Te Anau to Milford Sound is breathtaking, to say the least. The trip from Te Anau to Milford return is 240km.
From Te Anau the road heads south to Manapouri. From here you can explore Doubtful Sound which is equally as impressive as Milford Sound in it’s own way. A visit to the underground power house adds a bit of a buzz….
Burst on through the “Sausage capital of New Zealand” – Tuatapere, popping out on the wild south coast at Te Wae Wae Bay. Offshore you will probably see Stewart and Solander Islands – Stewart Island is of course inhabited but Solander is not (apart from 4 years in the early 1800s when 5 sealers were left stranded on this inhospitable, desolate isle).
Explore further nooks and crannies on the south coast such as Orepuki, Monkey Island, Pahia, Cosy Nook and Colac Bay. Walk on gemstone beaches, marvel at the macrocarpa trees growing sideways and if you’re keen pop in and see Les and take a gander at the old Chinese gold diggings at Round Hill.
Riverton is a great place to stay overnight and what a laid back spot this is to relax in. Walk around this small fishing village, take a photo in the largest Paua in the world, or just watch the sun set or rise from The Riverton Rock guesthouse. If you have a day or two to spare check out some of the local walks or arrange your travel plans to Stewart Island. From Te Anau to Riverton is 180km.
Henry the 155 year old Tuatara
Invercargill is the southern most city in New Zealand and is home to Henry a 115 year old ancient Tuatara, a miniature dinosaur – see him at the Museum.
The Catlins are the “Forgotten Coast” of New Zealand. An area of coastal native forest, renowned for the rugged cliffs , sandy beaches, spectacular natural features and unique wildlife. Along the way check out …
Waipapa Point (ship wreck site, lighthouse, Sea-lions); Curio Bay (180 million year old fossilised forest, Hector dolphins in the summer); Cathedral Caves (beach caverns accessible at low tide); Tautuku Beach – chuck a frisbee about here or just freak out at the lack of people; many waterfalls including the stunning Purakaunui; wildlife at Cannibal Bay and Nugget Point.
And then to Dunedin – the Edinburgh of the South. Great character buildings and recognised as the wildlife capital of the world with the only mainland Albatross colony in the world within 45 minutes of the city. Also on the Otago Peninsula is Penguin Place and Larnach’s castle. You can tour the Speights Brewery with free samples or walk, run or crawl to the top of Baldwin St – officially recognised in the Guiness Book of Records as the steepest street in the world. From Riverton to Dunedin is 250 km.