Southland
Day Trips

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Our most recommended Southland Day Trips

Te Anau: Glowworm Caves Guided Tour

1. 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 cave 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.

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

2. From Queenstown: Milford Sound Full-Day Trip by Bus & Boat

Take the hassle out of driving to Milford Sound and join a guided coach tour from Queenstown. Sit back, relax and enjoy magnificent scenery and informative commentary. Your experienced local coach driver will show you the best views along the Milford Road and connect you seamlessly with a 2-hour nature cruise. Travel in a spacious coach with USB charging ports. Marvel at the native rainforest, spectacular waterfalls and glacial lakes. Pause briefly in Te Anau before continuing along the spectacular alpine Milford Road. Admire incredible views at Eglinton Valley, Mirror Lakes, Knobbs Flat or Monkey Creek and pose for photos. Be wowed by the glaciar-carved Milford Sound as you approach the visitor terminal. Seize your cruise and lunch passes from the driver who’ll help you find your cruise departure gate.  Climb aboard a purpose-built catamaran for a nature cruise along the fiord’s deep blue waters. Savor a freshly prepared picnic lunch. Marvel at the impressive natural landscape and keep a lookout for native wildlife like dolphins, seals and penguins. Be fascinated by live commentary from your skipper in the open wheelhouse. Get within touching distance of impressive glaciar-carved rock walls and feel the full force of the powerful 15,000-year-old Stirling Falls on your face. Awed and satisfied, rejoin your driver for the scenic return journey to Queenstown. 

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

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

Combine a flight and a cruise on Milford Sound on this excursion from Queensland. 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.

Stewart Island: 2.5-Hour Cruise and Ulva Island Guided Walk

4. Stewart Island: 2.5-Hour Cruise and Ulva Island Guided Walk

Discover Stewart Island from the water with a 2.5-hour experience including a cruise of beautiful Paterson Inlet and a 45-minute guided walk in Ulva Island Wildlife Sanctuary. Admire Paterson Inlet’s stunning scenery from hidden coves to unspoilt beaches. Hear fascinating stories of early Maori history and European settlement from your guide as you pass various landmarks. Your passionate guide will provide engaging commentary and is more than happy to answer questions. While on board, keep a lookout for fur seals, penguins and other wildlife, as sightings are common. Paterson Inlet is home to renowned wildlife sanctuary Ulva Island. Disembark here for a 45-minute guided walk with a specialist nature guide. The island is home to weka (native woodhen), bush robins, rare saddlebacks and yellowheads amongst other species. It is also a protected habitat for some of New Zealand’s rarest plant species. Relax for the remainder of the cruise around Paterson Inlet and enjoy the coastal scenery before heading back to the wharf.

From Te Anau: Milford Sound Coach and Cruise Day Trip

5. From Te Anau: Milford Sound Coach and Cruise 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 Te Anau. There is plenty to do plus you will save yourself the long journeys to and from Queenstown. At Milford Sound, climb aboard the leisurely nature cruise for an informative, interactive, and relaxed experience. A specialist guide will provide live informative commentary and you can admire the fiord’s wildlife, waterfalls, and mountains. Enjoy lunch on board the cruise — you may bring your own lunch or purchase snacks and drinks (cash only) on the vessel. Be prepared to enjoy some rainfall during your visit; the landscape is especially dramatic when it rains in Fiordland. Enjoy the spectacular views from a dry, comfortable vantage point on board the vessel. Following the cruise, immediately board the luxury coach for the return journey to Te Anau, arriving between 4:30 PM and 5:45 PM, depending on the season.

Milford Sound: Boutique Small-Boat Cruise

6. 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.

Cruise & Kayak Milford Sound

7. Cruise & Kayak Milford Sound

Your tour starts off with a cruise along the entire length of the sound and out to the Tasman Sea on a Nature cruise. Each cruise has a different focus and explores a different part of the sound, so pick the one that's best for you! Towards the end of your cruise you will be dropped off at the Milford Sound Underwater Observatory to journey through the history, geology and wildlife of Milford Sound and visit New Zealand's only floating underwater observatory to view rare black coral. Then, your specialist kayak and nature guide will take you over to the kayaking pontoon to enjoy up to 90 minutes of relaxing kayaking in serene Harrison Cove. Gaze through the glacier-fed waters as you kayak in one of the most majestic places in the world. This is an intimate experience with a maximum of 8 kayaks per tour including a specialist kayak and nature guide to point out the fjord features and wildlife. No previous experience is necessary and we even have an automated lift for easy entry and exit from the kayaks.

From Te Anau: 1-Day Milford Sound Coach & Cruise

8. From Te Anau: 1-Day Milford Sound Coach & Cruise

If Milford Sound is the 8th wonder of the world, the road to Milford is surely the 9th. The overland journey is a spectacular showcase of sheer mountains and towering cliffs, rugged valleys and the native rain forest surrounded by spectacular waterfalls and glacial lakes. Be taken to Milford Sound while you sit back, relax and enjoy the magnificent scenery and informative commentary. Your experienced, local coach driver will show you the best short walks and photo stops on the Milford Road, and will connect you seamlessly with the Milford Sound Nature Cruise. Milford Sound is approximately a 5-hour drive or 45-minute flight from Queenstown. The Milford Coach and Cruise trips depart daily from Te Anau.

From Queenstown: Premium Doubtful Sound Wilderness Day Trip

9. From Queenstown: Premium Doubtful Sound Wilderness Day Trip

Visit Doubtful Sound on a full-day trip from Queenstown. You will board a luxury bus and travel along the shores of Lake Wakatipu, through the rolling countryside to Manapouri. Enjoy informative commentary along the way from your friendly driver. From Manapouri, you will cruise across the crystal waters of Lake Manapouri to West Arm. Then board a coach to cross the alpine route of the Wilmot Pass, through some of Fiordland National Park’s most dense rainforest. On reaching Deep Cove, you will climb aboard a modern catamaran for a 2.75-hour cruise, exploring the waterways of this serene and isolated fiord. See waterfalls, rainforest, mountains, and wildlife. Your knowledgeable nature guides will provide you with engaging and informative commentary throughout. You will be treated to the sound of silence when the vessel’s engines are turned off. Experience floating on the fiord, with only the rush of waterfalls and birdsong to break the silence. Bring your own lunch, or you may purchase snacks on board in the vessel’s cafes. If you would like to preorder a picnic lunch, you may contact the local partner directly after booking. When it rains in Fiordland, the landscape is especially dramatic. The scenery is spectacular, and you will stay dry and comfortable from your vantage point on the catamaran. At the end of your cruise, return over Wilmot Pass by coach and cruise across Lake Manapouri before the bus journey back to Queenstown.

Milford Sound: Coach and Cruise Day Trip From Queenstown

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

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-art coach. After meeting at a central location in Queenstown, you'll board the luxury coach and journey along the shores of Lake Wakatipu into rolling countryside through to Te Anau. Take a short break, then continue along the spectacular alpine route of the Milford Road. Enjoy photo stops and short walks along the way. Relax on an extended nature cruise of Milford Sound to the Tasman Sea and admire the fiord’s wildlife, waterfalls and mountains along the way. A specialist nature guide will provide live informative commentary. You can also bring your own lunch or purchase snacks and drinks (cash only) on-board. Following the cruise, board the coach for your return journey to Queenstown that allows for bathroom breaks. Be dropped off back in Queenstown at around 7:45 PM.

Frequently asked questions about Southland Day Trips

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What people are saying about Southland

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 458 reviews

Our coach driver, Brian, was superb. Commentary educational and entertaining, he stopped at all the scenic photographic spots, and was kind and caring to us older passengers. He had us in stiches with his puns and made the passengers feel that they are part of a shared experience. As a bus driver, I saw him cope with the challenges of idiots pulling out in front of him and stationary vehicles on corners- whithout missing a beat in his narration- an absolute legend. He is the best employee you will ever have.

The guide was extremely knowledgeable about the island, the flora and fauna. So good to have experienced such close interaction with some very rare birds. These tours provide financing to keep up the conservation efforts of these staff and such a.privaledge to be able to see these rare birds up close. Keep up the great work team

Take plenty of warm weather gear as standing outside can be freezing! The free car park is about 25 minutes walk around the waterfront but it is a lovely walk and added to the joy! The commentary on the boat was interesting but more importantly the captain and the check in woman were both friendly and welcoming.

Absolutely worth it! Brian was such an amazing tour guide and he gave us ample time to appreciate the beauty of Fiordland. Everything ran smoothly and we thankfully made it to our booked dinner after the trip.

Great experience, slightly intrepid so perfect for our 6 and 9 year old