Located in the far south of New Zealand, Southland is home to two distinct regions that will delight wilderness lovers. First of all, Stewart Island, the third and most southern island in the country, is a kind of lost paradise, forgotten by the world and populated by wild life, starting with the kiwi. Stewart is one of the last places where the emblematic bird of the country can still be seen roaming free, in its natural habitat.
Easily accessible with a 20-minute flight from Invercargill, Stewart Island offers the ultimate experience of seclusion in unspoiled wilderness. Apart from the small village of Oban where the vast majority of the island's 400 inhabitants are concentrated, the rest is only primary forest, wild rivers, jagged coasts and coves with turquoise waters. Among the main activities, hiking, especially along the famous Rakiura Track, one of NZ’s 10 “Great Walks”. This is done in its entirety over 3 days, but we recommend that you focus on its most beautiful part, which runs along the east coast between Port Jackson and Oban. It is easily travelled in about 4 hours in one direction thanks to a boat transfer.
Inside the bay on eastern Stewart Island is Ulva Island, a sanctuary for endemic birds, especially the kiwi. You can explore this little paradise in freedom or with a birdwatching guide to observe many native species, including the South Island Saddleback, which can now only be found on Ulva Island!
To observe the kiwi, take a cruise to an isolated peninsula on Stewart Island. Here a walk accompanied by a local guide through a superb rain forest allows you to reach Ocean Beach, where kiwis in search of food are easily observable.
Return to the South Island to discover another remarkable region of Southland, the Catlins. Here too, apart from a few agricultural activities, particularly sheep farming, wilderness has retained its rights. Lovers of rugged, wind-beaten coastlines and wildlife viewing will be among their elements. Do not miss the lighthouse of Waipapa, where it is not unusual to observe sea lions, as well as Curio Bay, or if you are lucky you will see one or more penguins with yellow eyes returning from their day spent in wide to feed. Hector's dolphins, also endemic, inhabit the waters of the bay.
The Catlins can be visited along the way, with more beautiful sites than the others which follow one another along the coast. A little further east, do not miss the walk of the Cathedral Caves, impressive cavities dug by the sea in the cliff, and that of the McLean Falls, where if you venture at night you will observe hundreds of Glow-worms. Then a little further east is Nugget Point and its lighthouse emerging from the landscape. This promontory overlooks a spectacular chain of rocks populated by seals and sea lions; the site is simply superb.
Wild and untamed, Southland is one of those regions where one is sure to enter into communion with nature and avoid crowds. The isolated side of this region has kept its confidential nature, we will be delighted to let you make the most of it thanks to our knowledge of the field.
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