Southland is a wild and wonderful New Zealand destination. Located on the nation’s Southern Island, this district is marked by astounding natural beauty and a charming way of life. Southland is a popular tourist destination, particularly during the summer, so a winter holiday to the region is the perfect time to get up close and personal with all that this area has to offer. From coastal delights, including abundant wildlife and tasty seafood, to natural wonder inland, ideal for hiking and exploration, you’ll want to book more than a few nights in this idyllic natural wonderland. Originally settled by the Maori, and later by European settlers, Southland’s economy and reputation as a point of interest grew significantly with the discovery of gold in 1861. After the gold rush, the area was found good for farming, so a large agricultural migration to the area took place and it is now known for its abundant farmlands and wool industry. The Southland climate is seasonal, with warm summers and chilly winters. The area does receive its fair share of rainfall, so come prepared with the essentials for braving the elements. Hire a campervan with Mighway, and let the journey unfold!
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Mirror Lakes is a great place to stretch your legs during the drive to Milford Sound. Let's face it, you're going to one of the most magical places in New Zealand, but these lakes along the way are a nice warm up to what's coming. The small lakes provide crazily good reflective views of the Earl Mountains. There's also waterfowl and wetland plants seen against a backdrop of beech forest. This is an easy walk suited to all ages and accessible to wheelchairs, so pull over, and unravel those limbs!
Two foot bridges over the Cleddau River offer dramatic views of a series of powerful waterfalls.
Thousands of years of swirling water have sculpted shapes and basins in the rock. The sheer velocity of water gives an appreciation of how much rainfall the Milford Sound area receives per annum.
This walk is off the Milford Road, about halfway between Milford Sound and the Homer Tunnel.
The large, well signposted carpark is about 109 km along the Milford Road from Te Anau.
A warm welcome awaits you as you step into the southernmost DOC visitor centre. Our friendly, helpful and experienced staff can help plan your time to ensure you make the most of your time here on Stewart Island/ Rakiura.
Here, you will find information on short walks, multi day tramps and Ulva Island/Te Wharawhara, up to date track conditions and weather reports, hut tickets, Great Walk bookings and much more.
Our taunga carving displayed in front of the visitor centre portrays the mythical origin of Stewart Island/Rakiura. Maori legend tells of the great whale Kewa chewing his way through the southern landmass to separate Stewart Island/ Rakiura from the mainland and creating Te Ara a Kewa (the pathway of Kewa), today known as Foveaux Strait.
This walk offers spectacular views of Fiordland National Park. If you only have time for one walk on your drive to Milford Sound, and the weather is fine, this track is well worth the effort.
From The Divide carpark follow the Routeburn Track for about an hour to get to to Key Summit Track. From here it is a 20 minute climb to Key Summit, with panoramic views over the Humboldt and Darran Mountains.
A self guided alpine nature walk passes a range of native vegetation: beech forest, sub-alpine shrublands, alpine tarns and bogs. Birdlife is prolific and tomtits, robins, New Zealand pigeons and bellbirds are commonly seen.
During the last ice age, which ended about 14,000 years ago, a huge glacier flowed down the Hollyford Valley and overtopped Key Summit by 500m, with ice branches splitting off into the Eglinton and Greenstone Valleys.
Come on in to the cafe and enjoy a coffee and some home baking, while enjoying the view overlooking the pond. They can cater for both casual drop ins and for group bookings such as club outings, work functions, birthdays, Christmas functions etc.
The cafe is open from Fathers' Day until Mothers' Day, 11am till 5pm, Wednesday to Sunday.
The garden is set over about 16 acres which includes about 3 acres of lake, including a couple of small islands. There are a number of paths that weave their way around the lake, and take you past both the waterfalls. Dotted every so often there are places to sit and enjoy the views.
As you walk through the gardens, you might find some of the local friendly ducks following you around looking for something to eat. There are a number of aviaries around the property with a wide variety of birds.
The Lignite Pit campground accepts self contained vehicles, cars and tents. At present there are 2 powered site and space for several unpowered campers and cars.
At the moment there is only a toilet present, but they are looking at adding showers and a better kitchen area in the future.
Dolamore Park encompasses 95 hectares of native podocarp forest, expansive lawn areas and a range of exotic plantings encased by stone wall terracing. Extensive areas of over 500 mature Rhododendrons make a spectacular show in spring.
Dolamore Park is an ideal location for a family day out or a night's camping. There are unlimited tent sites on grassed areas, 22 powerpoints for campervans to hook up to and electric BBQs. These are free to use. There are also kitchen and shower facilities.
Camp fees are $10 per adult, $2 for school age children and under 5s free. No Dogs Allowed
Dolamore Park is the gateway to many pleasant easy walking tracks. They range in length from 10 minutes to 4 hours. Views of the Mataura Valley are fantastic.
Department of Conservation walking tracks lead through the forest, giving visitors a chance to explore and discover many native plants and wildlife. Take a camera and binoculars, as the view from the top of the Poppelwells Lookout is worth documenting. These tracks are of good to excellent standards and can be walked most times of the year. Sturdy footwear is recommended.
Mountain biking enthusiasts are also catered for with a grade 3 track just minutes from the Park, at Pope Road.
There is a playground that includes slides, swings, jungle gyms, rope-climbing wall and even a flying fox.
An Education Centre is open by appointment, displaying interactive information which shows the balance of biodiversity in native forests.
Native bird life happily co-exists with the visitors in the Park. There are Kereru (native wood pigeon), Fantail, Bellbird and the Tui. These are other birdlife are commonplace, especially when the Flax, Rata and Kowhai are in flower.
A few hundred metres along the well-built wooden rampway at night reveals a bioluminescent display from the resident population of glowworms.
The Waimumu Stream, which flows through the Park, is the home to Brown Trout, Long Finned Eels and also the native Kokopu. A moderate population of freshwater lobsters can be found under the rocks. Kingfisher, Herons and Black Shag also make regular visits to the stream.
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