Top 10 Southland – Backpacking Tipps

Our 10 most beautiful places in the Southland of New Zealand

After spending some time in the Southland of New Zealand, we have our personal Top 10 of the most beautiful places and activities in the Southland. Even if you may have heard of some of them, we think there are some insider tips. In the Southland the road is sometimes closed, but we have a few useful tips below.


Here are our top 10 recommendations for the Southland

Milford Sound

Milford Sound is one of the wettest areas on earth. Up to 8000mm of rain falls on about 190 days per year. The 15km long fjord is framed by high cliffs, some of which reach over 1000 meters. On rainy days, countless waterfalls become visible, which sometimes carry away sediment from the rainforest. This creates a unique stratification of the water, which can only be found in a few other places in the world. The upper layer consists of fresh water, which is interspersed with many particles. Underneath it is a layer of salt water. The particles shield the lower layer of water from the light, so that flora and fauna thrive here as in the deep sea. You can get an insight into nature on a boat tour. With a bit of luck, you will also see dolphins, seals and penguins. On the way to Milford Sound you can also watch Keas. They like to romp around near the Homer Tunnel and the Chasm. For a great opportunity to take a boat trip, we recommend booking through our partner Bookme. Here you can find discounted tours and a nice boat trip over Milford Sound. To book simply follow the link to the Bookme website.*


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The Lost Gipsy Gallery

You like strange places? Small works of art that were made with love? When you can literally see the passion and the lifeblood? Then you should not miss this interactive gallery! The Lost Gipsy Gallery” was created in an old coach with a lot of wit and love for detail. In every corner you will find exciting and curious things that will take you into another world. Dive in and explore the garden behind the bus. Afterwards you will see many things with different eyes. Ingenious tinkerers will feel comfortable here and will be able to collect new ideas.


The lost gypsy gallery bus

Place for developers of all kinds, the lost gypsy gallery


Doubtful Sound

The Doubtful Sound is very popular next to the Milford Sound. The Doubtful Sound is also called “Sound of Silence”, because it is much quieter there. How quiet, we have shown in the YouTube video. The Doubtful Sound can only be visited by a guided tour, because there is no public road there. From Manapouri, one drives with a boat over the lake. From the other side of the lake you take a bus and cross the pass. Only then you reach the Doubtful Sound. All tours to the Doubtful Sound are day tours or multi-day tours. We also have an article about Milford and Doubtful Sound and which one we prefer. Tours for the Doubtful Sound can also be easily booked through our partner Bookme, just follow this link to the offer.*

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Petrified Forest

Where 180 million years ago there was still a forest, today there are only ashes and that in the sea! The Petrified Forest is located directly by the sea and can only be reached at low tide. 180 million years ago, various volcanic eruptions caused the petrification of the former tree giants. Today the remains of the tree trunks can be seen surprisingly well. It is really impressive to see the petrified trees. At dusk the yellow-eyed penguins return to the Petrified Forest, where they nest. Also, maybe you are lucky to see Hector's dolphins swimming in the sea. With a bit of luck, you can also watch them, but you should allow some time for this.


Signpost to the petrified forest

The sign leading you to the petrified forest


Waipapa Lighthouse

A small white lighthouse in the middle of dunes. On the beach the seals sun themselves. Idyllic landscape as far as the eye can see. Unfortunately, its history is not so beautiful. In 1881 a ship ran onto the reef just off the coast, 131 people died. To avoid such an accident, construction began only a few months later. In 1884 the 21m high lighthouse was completed. Today nothing reminds of the tragic accident. There are some paths that lead down to the beach or through the former pasture landscape. Between crooked trees you can even guess the remains of the house of the lighthouse keeper.


Waipapa lighthouse at the coast

Waipapa llighthouse is perfectly located on a lovely beach


McLean Falls

A beautiful path through the middle of the jungle, as it is so typical for the Catlin’s. You are literally waiting for the little dinosaur that crosses your way. The track is easy to walk, there are small signs with information on many plants and trees. After about 20 minutes you reach McLean Falls. The waterfalls rise 22m, then they flow over some steps and terraces before they disappear as a river into the rainforest. With a little skill one can climb up the terraces and find a huge pool. From up there, the view is breath-taking. The view up the waterfalls and down the terraces. The view into the jungle. Fantastically beautiful.

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The mc lean falls located in the caitlins

The mc lean falls were a great surprise. So beautiful to us.


Purakaunui Falls

The sister from McLean Falls. 10 minutes a beautiful trail leads through the rainforest of the Catlin’s and ends before the Purakaunui Falls. 20m the waterfalls flow over some terraces and form the river of the same name. The Purakaunui Falls are considered a kind of landmark of the Catlin’s and were depicted on some stamps in 1976.


The cascade waterfall named Purakaunui falls

Purakaunui falls located in the catlins, one of the most beautiful falls in the southland of New Zealand.


Southland Museum & Art Gallery

Not only worth a visit in rainy weather! Besides many galleries where art is exhibited, there are many rooms dedicated to a particular era. From the early Maori to the industrialization. From already extinct animals and plants to the species that exist today. In a separate area you will find the tuatara, a lizard that only lives in New Zealand. The special: It belongs to the Sphenodontiae family, which flourished 150 million years ago. The tuatara is the only living species and is therefore often called a “living fossil”. The Maori gave it the name tuatara, which roughly means “jagged back”.


Tuatara statue in front of the museum

The tuatara is a interesting species and has three eyes


Barrs Falls

The Catlin’s are known for their original rainforest with many beautiful waterfalls. The Barrs Falls can be found here. Located directly at the road, just 5 minutes of walk away. A small sign points out the waterfalls, nothing else. From the road you can see dense forest, nothing special – until you go inside! The beauty unfolds with every step more and then you stand in front of a wall. A rock face, over which 3 waterfalls rush – breath-taking! Nothing had prepared us before for this “WOW” experience.


The barrs falls are hidden in the forest

A hidden gem, the barrs falls


Slope Point

Wide, green meadows, many sheep, a steep cliff wall and a sign – sounds quite nice but not so exciting? Actually, it is nothing more than that. But what is it that so many people still hike there? Maybe the excellent view over the endless blue sea; maybe the fact that you are closer to the South Pole than to the equator; maybe the possibility to see dolphins. We don't know – the best thing is to go there yourself and let Slope Point convince you!


Southernmost point of the mainland, Slope Point

We visited slope point multiple times already and it's still impressive


More posts to the New Zealand Regions

We have made a map for your easy navigation, with which you can visit the respective contribution to the region directly. Have a look around what we like in the other regions!


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