St Clair Hot Salt Water Pool. © DunedinNZ

Which six Kiwi Gems can you discover on the Southern Scenic road trip?


AA Members can save 10% on selected accommodation.

Start looking

This epic 600km journey between Queenstown and Dunedin takes in the best of the South. We've picked six Kiwi Gem highlights to explore along the way.

1. Sunrise Balloons, Queenstown

Imagine drifting quietly through the still air, 6,000 feet above Queenstown. 

With Sunrise Balloons, you can experience hot air ballooning while drinking in bird’s-eye views over some of New Zealand’s most dramatic landscapes. 

Jaw-dropping mountain vistas of Coronet Peak, The Remarkables, Mount Aspiring and the Southern Alps are just the start. 

Rising into the sky at daybreak, you’ll spot Lake Wakatipu, the iconic Shotover and Kawarau rivers while you float above the picturesque patchwork valleys between Queenstown and Arrowtown. 

2. Lake Manapōuri, Fiordland

At 444 metres, Fiordland’s Lake Manapōuri is the second deepest lake in New Zealand.  

Dotted with no less than 33 small islands and set against the backdrop of Fiordland’s Cathedral Mountain Range, Lake Manapōuri is a lovely spot to enjoy some tranquility. 

On the eastern shores of the lake you’ll find the small township of Manapōuri, while on the lake’s western arm is the largest underground power station in the Southern Hemisphere. 

Choose from one of several walking trails around the lake where you can immerse yourself in native bush, spot waterfalls and discover secluded sandy coves. 

3. Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track, Southland

Explore the southern coast of Southland on the Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track. 

A 61km, three-day loop, the Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track is a unique walk operated by a charitable trust established by the local community in conjunction with DOC. 

Unlike many of New Zealand’s multi-day walks, the Hump Ridge Track provides accommodation and transport options ranging from the basic to the luxurious. Think hot showers and helicopters that will take you – or even just your pack – up the steep bits. 

The track’s namesake, the subalpine Hump Ridge is undoubtedly a trip highlight, with dramatic limestone landforms and panoramic views over the southern ocean and Stewart Island. 

4. Transport World, Invercargill

In Invercargill, you can visit the largest private automotive museum of its type in the world. 

Transport World is a testament to the late Bill Richardson’s passion for motoring memorabilia. 

Curated over many years, and now run by his family, today the collection has more than 300 classic vehicles, a wearable arts display, a movie theatre and even a quirky bathroom that is worth a visit. 

Retro Volkswagen Kombis, Model Ts, Diamond T Trucks and 1930s V8s sit alongside farm machinery and more than 200 vintage petrol pumps in the vast 15,000sqm space. 

Transport World’s historic collection also houses Invercargill’s first passenger bus and heritage artefacts ranging from household appliances to children’s toys in the collection housed in a beautiful Art Deco building. 

5. Lost Gypsy, Clutha

A caravan serving coffee, art and automata are all part of the curious collection at Southland’s Lost Gypsy. 

The brainchild of local artist and tinkerer Blair Somerville, The Lost Gypsy explores the craft of automata – weird and wonderful contraptions that have been lovingly crafted out of everyday objects. 

Hard to explain, automata is best described as things that used to be something else, made into something new that you can interact with. 

Think wind up mechanical toys, crafty mechanisms, gears, kinetics and electronics with moving parts. 

The works at The Lost Gypsy range in size and complexity – from small metal mechanical sea mammals, to large interactive exhibits dotted through the garden. 

6. St Clair Hot Salt Water Pool, Dunedin

Alongside New Zealand’s most consistent surf break, Dunedin’s St Clair Beach is also home to one of the country’s few heated saltwater pools. 

Opening back in 1884, the legendary St Clair Salt Hot Water Pool was first heated in the 1960s and has remained an iconic spot on the Dunedin coast ever since. 

Swim laps and stay warm while the waves break on boulders next to the pool. 

St Clair Beach is also a stellar spot for a surf. With the wild Pacific Ocean meeting a stunning stretch of powdery white sand, surfers flock here all year round. There are surfing lessons and board hire available for beginners, too.

Explore more...

More stories like this

Find out more

Get outdoors

Head offshore to Ulva Island

Ulva Island, a 266-hectare island sanctuary is set in Paterson Inlet, just off the north-eastern coast of Stewart Island. Read the story . . . 

Find out more


Loop around Queenstown's Moke Lake

On the outskirts of Queenstown you’ll find Moke Lake – a serene and scenic spot surrounded by mountains.  Read the story . . . 

Find out more

Get outdoors

Ōmarama: Clay Cliffs and Hot Tubs

Experience the otherworldly rock formations and a luxurious outdoor soak in Ōmarama.  Read the story . . . 

Find out more

Get outdoors

Go underground with glowworms in Te Anau

Take a scenic cruise on Fiordland’s Lake Te Anau to discover an underground wonderland. Read the story . . . 

AA Members save on selected accommodation with
AA Traveller

AA Members
Book now
Non Members
Book now