Western Southland

Gemstone-BeachAbout Western Southland

Summer days in Western Southland stretch into endless twilights, tinged by stunning sunsets that last, quite literally, for hours. Western Southland’s main coastal stop is the port town of Riverton/Aparima – the Riviera of The South – which has developed a culture of artistic creativity. While in Riverton/Aparima, be sure to also visit Te Hikoi Southern Journey Heritage Museum for an engaging insight into the unique and dramatic history of Maori and European settlement. Surf’s up at nearby Colac Bay/Oraka, where ‘Porridge’ ranks among New Zealand’s top surfing spots. Look carefully from Te Waewae Bay and you may just catch a glimpse of New Zealand’s largest pod of Hector’s dolphins/Upokohue.


Hump Ridge in Tuatapere

Lake Hauroko

Western Southland Links

Townships in Western Southland

The centre of a farming community, Tuatapere is often referred to as the ‘Sausage Capital of New Zealand.’ It has several art and craft galleries, and the Bushman’s Museum displays a detailed account of the area’s sawmilling history. A number of jet-boating, fishing and tramping opportunities are available.

A popular seaside and holiday resort, Riverton/Aparima is known as the ‘Riviera of the South’. Riverton/ Aparima is rich in early Ma¯ori history and is one of the earliest European settlements in New Zealand. Visit the Te Hikoi Southern Journey Heritage Museum and take a photo with the infamous paua shell on the main road.

Visit the vintage farm machinery museum located at Thornbury, or the nearby Templeton Flax Mill and Heritage Museum (open by arrangement).

Activities in Western Southland

Home to many waterfowl species, including scaup/papongo, grey teal/tete and paradise shelduck/ putakitaki, these wetlands provide a network of walking and cycling tracks.

Borland Road is a backcountry 4WD route to the South Arm of Lake Manapouri. Conditions on the narrow road can be treacherous, and it is often closed during winter months and occasionally in summer. Contact a DOC office for road conditions. The Borland Lodge Adventure and Education Trust provide a range of accommodation, conference and meeting facilities.

40 min return

An easy short walk opposite Borland Lodge, through beech forest. This is one of the best places in Southland to see native mistletoe, which flowers in early summer.

Monowai was one of the first New Zealand lakes to be harnessed for hydro-electric power production, and is a gateway to the southern part of Fiordland National Park.

30 min return

Walk through mature beech forest, to overlook the lower reaches of Lake Monowai.

Hauroko means “the soughing of the wind”. At 462 metres deep, this is New Zealand’s deepest lake. Accessed from the Lillburn Valley Road, Lake Hauroko is signposted from Clifden. There are varied recreational opportunities in the area and commercial operators to help you explore. Leaving Lake Hauroko, the Wairaurahiri River is the steepest river in New Zealand to be navigated by commercial jet-boat operators. The Lake Hauroko Bush Walk is an easy 40 min return loop walk.

30 min return

Signposted from the road to Lake Hauroko, a pleasant 12km drive takes you to the track entrance. Along the track you will see some of the largest totara trees in Southland, which are over 1,000 years old.

Construction of the suspension bridge started in 1898 when it replaced the punt used by early sheep stations.

These limestone caves are one of few cave systems in Southland, and are signposted along the Clifden Gorge Road. Ensure you have a good torch with spare batteries and warm clothing. Ask for advice at the nearest visitor centre. Warning – This cave system is subject to flash flooding. Do NOT enter during or immediately after heavy rain, or if rain events are forecast. To fully explore these caves, caving experience is essential.

3 day / 2 night hike

This circuit track has all the qualities of a ‘Great Walk’. The first day leads hikers from sealevel up through native forest to the Hump Ridge, providing sweeping 360º views of the south coast far below, and the peaks of the Southern Alps marching northward. From the Hump Ridge, the track descends almost back to sea-level, and then traverses along old tram lines and across mighty wooden viaducts to the historic Port Craig. A bush and beach track following Te Waewae Bay completes the circuit on the third day. Bookings are required. Visit www.humpridgetrack.co.nz.

7 hr each way

The site of a 1920s timber mill and town. The only remaining historic building is the school, which is now DOC accommodation. A self-guided heritage trail takes visitors around relics of the town and mill site. The Percy Burn viaduct (approx 2 hr walk west from Port Craig) is a spectacular site.

A viewing platform provides excellent views of Te Waewae Bay and the tiny one million year-old Solander Islands to the south - formed by the eroded skeleton of a volcano.

Located ½ km north of Orepuki, Gemstone Beach is known for its constant state of change from sand to stones with the storms and tides. Semi-precious gems such as garnet, jasper, quartz and nephrite can often be found on the beach.

Known by Kai Tahu as Te Puka o Takitimu, the island is the anchor stone of the legendary Takitimu waka/canoe, captained by Tamatea and wrecked at the mouth of the Waiau River. Access to the island is tide-dependent.

Cosy Nook is a rocky cove sheltering several fishing boats and holiday homes. Early European settlers reported Pahi’s Village – a Kai Tahu settlement of forty houses was situated here.

2 hr return

Starting at Round Hill Road, 15km west of Riverton, the Long Hilly Track explores regenerating native bush and relics from the little-known days of early Chinese goldmining activity in Southland – the largest Chinese settlement in New Zealand. The gravelled loop-track leads through a tramway cutting to old earth dams.

A large statue of a surfer riding a wave greets visitors to Colac Bay/ Oraka. First settled by early Ma¯ ori, the rocky coastline, great sandy beach and surf continue to attract people to this small settlement.

10 min to 3 hr

Mores Reserve, at the top of Richard Street (turn left at the end of the bridge over the estuary and follow the signs), offers several short walks and great views over Southland and Foveaux Strait/Te Ara a Kiwa towards Stewart Island/Rakiura.

At the end of the ‘Rocks Highway’. This is a privatelyowned recreation reserve and is a great place for walking, picnicking, fishing and bird watching. It offers spectacular views of Taramea Bay, Invercargill, Bluff and Stewart Island/Rakiura.

20 min return

A short walking track starts at the eastern entrance to Riverton/Aparima and leads down to loop through the 6 hectare flax wetland. This reserve provides a sanctuary for whitebait/inanga and other native fish.

Western Southland Map