Rakiura National Park, Stewart Island, Southland  © tewaipounamu via Flickr

Southern Scenic Route

The Southern Scenic Route is New Zealand’s oldest touring route, and also one of its most spectacular.  Beginning or ending in Dunedin, the Route takes in the stunning scenery of the southern South Island, passing through the Catlins, Invercargill, and Fiordland.


Rich in culture and heritage Dunedin is an exciting student city with a vibrant identity. As well as the central city's omnipresent Scottish heritage and striking Edwardian and Victorian architecture, Dunedin is home to some outstanding wildlife encounters around the Otago Peninsula.

The Catlins

South of Dunedin, the unparalleled beauty of the Catlins Coast is widely heralded. The Catlins boasts an untouched coastline, some great surf beaches, forest and coastal walks, penguins, seals and pelagic birds aplenty. The Catlins should be explored over a number of days.

Bluff & Stewart Island

Bluff is famous for its excellent oysters - a must-try if you arrive in season. From Bluff you have the option to detour to Stewart Island. A place unlike any other, Stewart Island is a bounty of untouched native bush, scenic walks and wildlife encounters. Spend a night or two to enjoy everything this tiny island has to offer.


Back on the mainlaind you'll arrive in the southern city of Invercargill. Known as The City of Water & Light, Invercargill is home to some lovely inner city parks and gardens. Whilst there, visit the Tuatara at Southland Museum, and enjoy the city lifestyle Invercargill serves up.


The small but friendly town of Riverton is known for its excellent surf conditions, its artistic residents and its giant paua shell! Popular over the summer months, Riverton is a great place for a relaxing few days of poking about in the local galleries and enjoying the coastal views.

Manapouri & Te Anau

Lakes Manapouri and Te Anau are two of the largest in New Zealand. Manapouri is a key feature in the generation of New Zealand's power supply. Lake Te Anau and its adjacent township are popular visitor destinations for the water activities and attractive walks on offer, as well as their proximity to Fiordland.

Milford Sound

Carved out by glaciers millions of years ago, Milford Sound is internationally recognised for its beauty and mystique. Located within Fiordland National Park, Milford Sound is one of NZ's scenic jewels, offering boat trips, wildlife cruises, kayaking & walking; an exceptional end to an exceptional touring route.


 The lower Octagon, central Dunedin, New Zealand.  Tourism Dunedin


Nugget Point Venture Southland Tourism


 Stirling Point signpost, Bluff.  Venture Southland



 Invercargill City Street View, Venture Southland  Jeremy Pierce



 Western Southland - Riverton Wharf at sunset, Venture Southland  Venture Southland


Destination Fiordland


 Milford Sound  Real Journeys

Route Map

Coming soon...

Route Facts

  • Approx. 440kms long
  • One way
  • Start: Dunedin or Milford Sound
  • End: Milford Sound or Dunedin
  • Minimum duration: 3 days
  • Wildlife, scenery, coastal, national park, walking, history

Other Touring Routes