The wild southern coast of the Catlins. © Graeme Murray

Southern Scenic Route: a different way of life


View the map

TAP FOR MORE INFO:

This is a drive of unparalleled beauty, an almost contradictory mix of dense woodlands, cool and canopied, and wild southern coast, battered with spray.

All of it is invigorating, awe-inspiring and able to be taken as you choose. Long as you’ve got a car, though. The Catlins – an area in the southeast corner of the country that includes a conservation park of quiet beauty – is a fine way to weave out of the deep south.

Of course, you can take State Highway 1 as you leave Southland with a bellyful of Bluff oysters, but you’d be missing out.

State Highway 92, which makes loops of spaghetti look positively ramrod, will twist and turn you inside and out and bewilder you with beauty of the beach and beech kind for as long as you care to drive it.

Even better, there are roads off that which will open your eyes to the many prizes of the area.

Wildlife abounds – and not just the legendary yeti-like māeroero, which was said to have actually driven Māori from the area. There are penguins, Hooker’s sea lions, fur seals and, further out in the cold depths, Hector’s dolphins and even whales can occasionally be spotted.

At Papatōwai you can find evidence of moa hunting, which will help give you some perspective if the wild landscape hasn’t already. There’s evidence of the whaling communities and timber millers who thrived here also.

Slowly each has had to pack up and go, leaving the Catlins for you to explore and enjoy all the way from Waipapa Point in deepest Southland to the lighthouse at Nugget Point, marking the return to Otago. And a different way of life altogether.

Explore more...


Be the first to comment on this page. You cannot post comments until you have logged in. Please log in or register if you don't have an account.

More stories like this

Find out more

Road trips

Southern Scenic Route: Queenstown to Dunedin

If you get as far as Te Anau, it’d be rude not to keep going, don't you reckon, and explore the deep south.  Read the story . . . 

Find out more

Things to do

Remote Southland: the quirk and the sublime

There's a great deal to love in the emptiness and wildness of Curio and Porpoise bays. Particularly when you're looking for uncrowded waves to ride. Read the story . . . 

Find out more

Food and drink

Bluff Oyster Festival: unsophisticated and proud of it!

Where are the internationally renowned delicacy known as Bluff oysters likely to taste best? Bluff, did you say? You’re good at this! Exactly. Read the story . . . 

Where to stay in Southland Region

4.5 /5
From $125
4.5 /5
Admiral Court Motel & Apartments Visit website

Noted for our friendly professional service, this modern, warm, spacious, ground floor 15 unit accommodation complex with 5 Luxury Units completed in 2011 is the . . . More . . . 

From $125
4.9 /5
From $100
4.9 /5
Belvedere Bed & Breakfast

"Belvedere" means "open porch" and we welcome you to our home located in Winton, New Zealand in the heart of central Southland. . . . More . . . 

From $100
4.7 /5
From $32
4.7 /5
Mossburn Country Park

www.mossburncountrypark.co.nz is a privately owned park run by Colleen and Stuart and their gorgeous Labrador, Andrew. Lovingly maintained because of their long history with the . . . More . . . 

From $32
4.6 /5
From $80
4.6 /5
Ashlar Motel

Kind and friendly - we value all our guest Accommodation - value for money. . . . More . . . 

From $80