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Things to do in
Southland

Our most recommended things to do in Southland

Queenstown: Milford Sound Coach & Cruise Full-Day Trip

1. Queenstown: Milford Sound Coach & Cruise Full-Day Trip

Enjoy a fun and leisurely day trip to admire the glacial features, wild flora and fauna, and picturesque backdrops of the world-famous fiord at Milford Sound. Start with pickup for the bus journey to Te Anau. Your driver will share their local knowledge as you stop along the way to see spectacular scenery. Marvel at views of waterfalls, wildlife, and the rainforest. Soak up the sights from any of the three indoor and outdoor viewing decks during your cruise and join your jovial crew at the bow as you nose close to Stirling Falls to feel the spray from some of the world's freshest water.  Benefit from complimentary tea service is available for the entire cruise and, snacks cakes and drinks can be purchased from onboard cafe / bar.

Te Anau: Glowworm Caves Guided Tour

2. Te Anau: Glowworm Caves Guided Tour

Experience a mysterious underground world of rushing water before drifting in darkness beneath the luminous shimmer of hundreds of glowworms.  Your trip to the Te Anau Glowworm Caves begins with a cruise to the western shores of Lake Te Anau. At the entry to the caves, view the informative displays and learn about this geological wonder before you head underground. On the tour of the caves, your friendly guide will point out the highlights and share their knowledge of the caves and its history. This underground world is astonishingly beautiful. The caves are 12,000 years old which by geological standards is still very young and they are still being carved out by the force of the river that flows through them. The result is a twisting network of limestone passages filled with sculpted rock, whirlpools and a roaring underground waterfall. Deep inside the caves, beyond the roar of the water, you will be taken by small boat into a silent hidden grotto inhabited by thousands of glowworms, unique to New Zealand. In the subterranean darkness, they produce a glittering display that is nothing short of extraordinary.

Milford Sound: Nature Cruise on Premium Glass-Roof Catamaran

3. Milford Sound: Nature Cruise on Premium Glass-Roof Catamaran

Climb aboard 'Gem of the Sound', the newest vessel to cruise in the fiord, for a Milford Sound nature cruise. Capture the best views of the incredible fiord with three-levels of indoor and outdoor seating, unique glass roofs, and large viewing decks. Be welcomed on board by a friendly crew and marvel at one of the most stunning places on earth. Relax in the comfortable booth seating with stylish decor and ambient lighting. High-definition cameras project outdoor footage live onto TV screens throughout the vessel - so no matter where are, you won't miss a thing. Admire New Zealand fur seals basking on rocks and feel the spray of cascading waterfalls. Look out for playful dolphins and, if you’re lucky, catch a glimpse of the rare and elusive Fiordland Crested Penguin. Travel the length of the fiord and out into the Tasman Sea, to see why Captain Cook failed to discover Milford Sound after charting the Fiordland National Park.

Milford Sound: 2-Hour Small Boat Scenic Cruise

4. Milford Sound: 2-Hour Small Boat Scenic Cruise

Embrace the grandeur of Milford Sound's towering peaks and tumbling waterfalls on a scenic and boutique 2-hour cruise. Self-drive to Milford Sound Visitor Terminal enjoying the views en route. Sit back and relax as your cruise departs from Milford Sound Wharf and makes its way out past the iconic Mitre Peak. Cruise the length of the 16-kilometer fiord and out past St Annes Point Lighthouse. Go further and get closer to the magic that is Milford Sound as you travel through the fiord and out into the Tasman Sea. Hold your breath as your Skipper navigates closer to the shoreline, getting you right up close to the incredible surroundings. Be sure to bring your camera, as you'll be close to sights like the mighty Stirling Falls and Copper Point. Keep an eye out for seals basking in the sun, pods of dolphins or rare Fiordland Crested Penguins that can be found seasonally within the region.

From Queenstown: Milford Sound Full-Day Trip by Plane & Boat

5. From Queenstown: Milford Sound Full-Day Trip by Plane & Boat

Combine a flight and a cruise on Milford Sound on this excursion from Queenstown. Take in the area's outstanding natural beauty as you savor the sights from both air and water. Enjoy a pickup and transfer to the air hanger in Queenstown. Listen to informative commentary in English and marvel at the stunning views of lakes, mountains, and waterfalls on the 40-minute flight. Upon landing, transfer to the Milford Sound Boat Terminal. Board in Milford Sound and experience 2 hours onboard an intimate vessel with English commentary by your skipper, and complimentary tea and coffee. Cruise to the mouth of the Tasman Sea, while enjoying views of waterfalls and marine life like fur seals, dolphins, and penguins. Next, board your scenic flight back to Queenstown. Take a different flight path from your outbound flight as you admire the spectacular views of Fiordland National Park. After the 40-minute journey back to Queenstown, enjoy complimentary transfer back to your accommodation.

From Queenstown: Milford Sound Cruise and Coach Day Trip

6. From Queenstown: Milford Sound Cruise and Coach Day Trip

Travel to Milford Sound for an extended nature cruise on a day trip from Queenstown. Experience one of the most beautiful drives in the world in the comfort of a state-of-the-coach. Board the luxury glass-roof coach in Queenstown and journey along the shores of Lake Whakatipu into rolling countryside through to Te Anau. Here we take a short rest stop at a cafe before continuing along the spectacular alpine route of the Milford Road. Enjoy spectacular photo stops and short walks along the way. Relax on the 2-hour cruise of Milford Sound to the Tasman Sea and admire the fiord’s wildlife, waterfalls and mountains. Our experienced skippers tailor each Milford Sound cruise, considering the weather and recent wildlife sightings, ensuring you'll see the best Milford Sound has to offer. Specialist nature guides will provide live informative commentary.Our vessels have large windows, spacious decks and offer uninterrupted views of the dramatic Fiordland landscape. Experience the cool spray of a waterfall as you cruise close to sheer rock faces.  You can bring your own lunch or purchase delicious locally curated dishes, wines, craft beer and barista coffees on-board. Following the cruise, board the coach for your return journey to Queenstown.

From Manapouri: Premium Doubtful Sound Wilderness Day Trip

7. From Manapouri: Premium Doubtful Sound Wilderness Day Trip

Please note: the temporary 10am option added to allow for more guests to visit will be a shorter round trip: 5 hours 45 minutes (including a 2 hour cruise of Doubtful Sound Inner Fiords), compared with the 7 hour round trip (including 3 hour cruise of Doubtful Sound). Spend a day in the remote wilderness of Doubtful Sound, located in the heart of Fiordland National Park and three times longer than Milford Sound. Self-drive to Manapouri and board a cruise across picturesque Lake Manapouri, followed by a bus trip across Wilmot Pass. Stop en route to experience the dense Fiordland rainforest. At Deep Cove, board the Patea Explorer, a purpose-built catamaran, for a 3-hour cruise on Doubtful Sound. See waterfalls, rainforests, and mountains during the cruise. You might spot the resident pod of bottlenose dolphins, the colony of fur seals at the mouth of the fiord, or even rare Fiordland crested penguins. During the cruise, knowledgeable nature guides will provide informative commentary.  When it rains in Fiordland, the landscape is dramatic - rock faces stream with waterfalls, mist hangs around the tops of the mountains, and rivers and streams rage.  From a dry comfortable vantage point on board the bus or vessel, this landscape is spectacular. Be prepared for rainfall during your visit. Many say you have not seen Fiordland unless you have seen it in the rain. At the end of your tour, be returned to the departure point.

Milford Sound: Cruise and Underwater Observatory

8. Milford Sound: Cruise and Underwater Observatory

Explore the beauty of the fiord on a vessel that’s purpose-built for the best daytime viewing. Set off on a day-trip that includes complimentary tea and coffee, and a visit to the Milford Sound Underwater Observatory. Climb aboard a smaller vessel at the Milford Sound Cruise Terminal to discover more of the fiord on an authentic and insightful experience. Get within touching distance of impressive rock walls and waterfalls. Join the skipper in the open wheelhouse and say hello to the native seals basking on the rocks as you pass them by. A knowledgeable local guide will ensure you discover the wildlife, nature, and history of this remarkable sanctuary. Visit the Milford Sound Underwater Observatory, New Zealand's only floating underwater observatory for an experience unlike any other. Hidden under the surface in Harrison Cove in the middle of Piopiotahi Marine Reserve, the Observatory enables you to experience a different perspective of the fiord. Descend 64 steps (10-metres) underwater into a large, fully air-conditioned viewing area and peer out through large windows at the deep underwater haven. Unlike an aquarium, the fish are free to come and go; it’s the people who are contained.

Milford Sound: Boutique Small-Boat Cruise

9. Milford Sound: Boutique Small-Boat Cruise

Your cruise will begin at one of the most scenic points of the journey. You can take in the magnificent view of Mitre Peak (New Zealand's most photographed mountain) and the Sinbad Gully. This place is home to the Kakapo (world's heaviest flightless parrot), which was once thought to be extinct but was rediscovered in 1948. From there you will cruise past seal colonies and feel the spray of the waterfall as you travel directly under the Fairy Falls. Once the cruise reaches the Tasman Sea, you will get to see the hidden entrance to the Milford Sound (which Captain Cook missed twice on his explorations). On your return journey, you will find yourself underneath an even bigger waterfall, the Sterling Falls. If you feel like a world-famous "glacial facial", don't miss the opportunity here to do so. Throughout your tour, nature guides will entertain you with local anecdotes, as well as offer extra information on the passing flora and fauna. They are also there to help you with taking photos and assist with any requirements you may have. Around November you will have the chance to spot the rare Fiordland Crested Penguin.

From Te Anau: Milford Sound Cruise and Coach Day Trip

10. From Te Anau: Milford Sound Cruise and Coach Day Trip

Discover Milford Sound on an 8-hour adventure with round-trip transport from Te Anau and a 2-hour cruise through the fiord. If you are looking to explore both Milford and Doubtful Sounds, it is worth staying one or two nights in the lovely area of Te Anau. Experience one of the most beautiful drives in the world along the Milford Road in the comfort of our glass roof coach. Enjoy photo stops and short walks on the journey into Milford. Cruise along the Fiord to the Tasman Sea onboard our purpose built Fiordland vessel for an interactive and relaxed adventure. A specialist guide will provide live informative commentary and you can admire the fiord’s wildlife, waterfalls, and mountains. You may bring your own lunch or purchase delicious locally sourced food and beverages on-board. Our vessels have large windows, spacious decks and offer uninterrupted views of the dramatic Fiordland landscape. Following the cruise, immediately board the luxury coach for the return journey to Te Anau. 

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What people are saying about Southland

Overall rating

4.8 / 5

based on 5,256 reviews

Luckily we had a super clear (if freezing cold) day for it. The check in process was pretty smooth and everything ran on time and well. Staff were very knowledgeable about the area and wildlife. Both boats were comfy and warm with teas and coffee. We saw dolphins on our way out and the captain turned the boat so we could spend some time watching them. Kayaking was quite easy on a calm day and the lift made it super easy to get in and out. You leave before any other boat and you are on the water when it’s quiet and calm which is amazing. We luckily saw a local penguin on the shore and the staff were great, allowing us to take photos etc but then moving on and respecting the wildlife. An amazing experience and well worth it.

This experience was worth every penny in our opinion! We were picked up by shuttle bus in Frankton as pre arranged and taken to the airport, and basically everything ran like clockwork. Our pilot and guide Liam was just wonderful, knowledgable, interesting, and flew us all expertly. The views of snow capped mountains, lakes, valleys and rivers from above was breath taking, it’s hard to explain how amazing it all was. The boat tour around Milford Sound was not packed so there was plenty of space to move around the deck, take pictures and enjoy the sights. We really can’t recommend this trip enough, so glad we did it, if you can afford to treat yourself to this half day trip….. JUST DO IT!

Enjoyable experience on Lake te anau. wonderful crew who were very nice and knowledgeable. Great history with the boat, definitely something that you should try. we did the champagne cruise on the evening.

Loved the entire tour and the guides and even though we don’t have memories in pictures we will carry the experience with us for the rest of pur lives.

Everything from the crew to the food, cleanliness of room, bathroom, showers Insanely beautiful!