Top 7 things to do in Western Southland

Department of Conservation —  03/01/2018

Looking for the perfect summer adventure? Escape the city and head to the bottom of the world – Western Southland – a very special corner of New Zealand.

Surrounded by the towering peaks of Fiordland to the west, the Takitimu mountain range to the north, and the beautiful Southern Ocean, Western Southland boasts dramatic landscapes, lush native forests and and an easy pace of life.

Explore New Zealand the way it used to be. Here are the top 7 things to do in Western Southland:

1. Hump Ridge Track

A three-day premium walking experience that takes you along the south coast of New Zealand up to the sub-alpine Hump Ridge zone, over historic viaducts in the heart of the native forest. Rest in easy-access, comfortable backcountry lodges. Book the Hump Ridge Track.

2. Riverton

Known as the Riviera of the South and just a stones throw from Invercargill. It is the oldest European settlement in Southland and Otago and you can still see many fine colonial homes intact today. Enjoy the beauty of the coast and learn more about its history at Te Hikoi Southern Journey Museum.

3. Clifden Limestone Caves

Explore the limestone caves and view the stalactites and glowworms within this rare Southland cave system. Some passages are narrow and require crawling on hands and knees but you’ll be rewarded with sights of spectacular formations on the ceilings and walls of the caves.

4. Cosy Nook

Now housing a handful of traditional cribs (holiday homes), this area was once the site of a Pā and one of the largest and most established villages with around 40-50 whare/houses. The village was an important contact point for European sealers and traders coming to the area to trade for flax and potatoes for the Australian market.

5. Gemstone Beach

This place lives up to its name. Take the time to fossick at low tide for semi-precious gems such as garnet, jasper, quartz and nephrite, which can often be found on the beach following storms and changing tides.

6. Jetboating along the Wairaurahiri River

Feel the serenity on scenic Lake Hauroko, New Zealand’s deepest lake, then get kick it up a notch jetboating along Grade 3 white water rapids on the Wairaurahiri River to the rugged southern coast.

7. Hector’s dolphins

Hector’s dolphins are the smallest and one of the rarest marine dolphin in the world. Small groups of Hector’s dolphins can be seen in Te Waewae Bay.

Discover Southland

Untouched wilderness, remote rivers and breathtaking mountains — discover more of what Southland has to offer on our website.

5 responses to Top 7 things to do in Western Southland


    Wow! Definetly adding Western Southland to my list of places to go in NZ!


    Having been to Wairauhiri River with Johann on two trips in the last 2 years I can thoroughly recommend the trip. The tracks along the South Coast do require a degree of fitness as well as some experience in backcountry skills. It is not an age related activity, all can enjoy the experience.


    Thanks for the marvelous post! I actually enjoyed reading it and finding out more about Western Southland.


    We were in Invercargill in September and did a drive to Western Southland. A beautiful part of the region – loved Riverton and Cosy Nook. Tide wasn’t right for gemstone beach but gives us a good excuse to go back. As far as the Hump Ridge track, I was lucky enough to do this 13 years ago and it would still rate as one of the highlights of my back country hiking trips.