Southland
Outdoor Activities

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Our most recommended Southland Outdoor Activities

Milford Sound Nature Cruise on Premium Glass-Roof Catamaran

1. 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. Your friendly crew will welcome you on board and embrace you as one of the family, whilst you 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 Fiord Cruise & Helicopter Glacier Landing

2. Milford Sound Fiord Cruise & Helicopter Glacier Landing

Discover Milford Sound's stunning fjord from high in the air and on the water. Land in Milford and join an unforgettable fjord cruise past sheer cliffs and gushing waterfalls.Try to spot dolphins, seals, and adorable penguins. Then enjoy an exhilarating flight past spectacular rivers, valleys, and mountains with blue-green ice falls, and experience a glacier or mountain landing in the heart of Fiordland National Park. Today, many of the local landscapes can be recognized because of their use as film locations. You can even fly over where movies were filmed! The pilots regularly work with film production crews and are happy to share plenty of stories of life on the film set. Finally, for the photo opportunity of a lifetime, alight on a glacier and enjoy panoramic views. These highly experienced, well-known local pilots can’t wait to share with you their extensive knowledge and history of the area while showing you the best of New Zealand's amazing scenery. Please note that there may not be snow on the day of your flight depending on the season, especially during summer.

Cruise & Kayak Milford Sound

3. 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.

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.

Queenstown: Milford Sound Flight & Cruise

5. Queenstown: Milford Sound Flight & Cruise

Discover this isolated gem, a world renowned area of extraordinary beauty. Experience the vast and dramatic alpine scenery on your 40–minute flight to Milford Sound. Take in scenic views of Skippers Canyon, Glenorchy and Paradise, and the Donne Glacier. Once you land, board a cruise and take in the magnificent views from the water while cruising out to the Tasman Sea. Discover the unique wildlife, towering waterfalls and majesty of Mitre Peak. Your cruise offers excellent viewing opportunities of wildlife including seals, dolphins and penguins. Get within touching distance of impressive geological features and close enough to feel the full force from the powerful 15,000 year–old Stirling Falls. Following your cruise, your return flight takes a different path back to Queenstown, flying over many of the pristine alpine lakes and waterfalls that Fiordland National Park is recognised for.

From Te Anau: Milford Sound Coach, Cruise and Walk

6. From Te Anau: Milford Sound Coach, Cruise and Walk

Enjoy a leisurely day excursion to Milford Sound from Te Anau, with an extended nature cruise along the full length of the fiord. Your tour includes all the best scenic stops, including short walks. From Te Anau, travel along the spectacular Milford Road with local, experienced nature guides who are eager to share their stories, knowledge, and passion for the area. Upon reaching Milford Sound, you will join a nature cruise traveling out to the Tasman Sea. The cruise provides excellent viewing opportunities and plenty of time is available to view waterfalls, rainforests, mountains, and wildlife. On completion of the cruise, passengers will board a small coach and begin their journey overland. If you prefer shorter walks, stay with the nature guide and enjoy a series of walks in a range of different environments within the National Park. Take a wilderness tea break and regain your strength with hot drinks and home-baked biscuits. Enjoy access to the Hollyford Valley, Lake Gunn, and the Marian Gantry. Step into the ancient native forest, and witness this World Heritage area and its untamed wilderness at its best. Finally, enjoy short walks and scenic stops on a 2-hour nature cruise on Milford Sound before returning to Te Anau.

Lake Te Anau: 3-Hour Boat Cruise with Guided Walk

7. Lake Te Anau: 3-Hour Boat Cruise with Guided Walk

Your tour will begin when you arrive at the historic wharf of Lake Te Anau 5, where you'll be greeted by your crew and welcomed aboard “Faith”. You'll then receive a personalized briefing about safety onboard the ship and what to expect during the cruise.  Once onboard, you’ll be free to roam around and your crew will offer you a drink and a chat during the 40-minute journey to the Hidden Lakes wharf. During this time, you’ll learn about the history of your cruise ship, the vessel’s journey from Scotland in the 1980s and its Royal Navy service during WW2. Upon arrival at the Hidden Lakes, experience a guided walking tour of Fiordland National Park of roughly 45 minutes, and learn about the surrounding flora and fauna from your guide. Once back at the wharf, enjoy a selection of canapés and desserts in the calm of the cove. Finally, sit back and enjoy the journey home or visit the engine room to take a turn behind the wheel.

Lake Te Anau: 3-Hour Scenic Cruise and Walk with Morning Tea

8. Lake Te Anau: 3-Hour Scenic Cruise and Walk with Morning Tea

Begin your tour at the historic wharf of Lake Te Anau, where you'll be greeted by your crew and welcomed aboard. After a safety briefing and check-in, you'll be free to explore the ship. Enjoy some light refreshments on the scenic 40-minute journey to the Hidden Lakes wharf.   Upon arrival, leave the ship for a guided 45-minute walk through the Fiordland National Park. Learn about the surrounding flora and fauna from your guide. Once back at the ship, enjoy a delicious morning tea with a selection of canapes and desserts in the peaceful cove. Then sit back, relax and enjoy the journey back to Lake Te Anau.

Milford Sound: Full Day Guided Hike and Scenic Cruise

9. Milford Sound: Full Day Guided Hike and Scenic Cruise

Your full-day Milford Sound package begins with a morning walk along the Milford Track. A short boat ride will take you across Milford Sound’s Deep Water Basin to Sandfly Point for the start of a guided hike. The walk will take you alongside the cascading Arthur River and then on to Lake Ada. Stop at Giant's Gate Waterfall, a stunning and much-photographed site that is best viewed from the large swing bridge. In the afternoon you’ll enjoy the awe-inspiring scenery of the Milford Sound from the comfort of a modern, spacious boat. With outstanding viewing opportunities, you’ll take in the geological drama of sheer cliffs, massive waterfalls and more. Be on the lookout for wildlife, such as seals basking on the rocks or dolphins playing near the boat.

Fiordland National Park: Hidden Hankinson Day Hike

10. Fiordland National Park: Hidden Hankinson Day Hike

Embark on a full-day adventure to Lake Hankinson by private boat with a knowledgeable private guide. Visit a special part of Fiordland people rarely get to see and enjoy a short hike through lush beech forests, a gourmet lunch and the opportunity to hand-feed the native eels. Depart Te Anau Downs, take a boat ride across the South Island’s largest lake, Lake Te Anau for a sense of how big Fiordland is. Take a short walk through the beech forest to find the hidden lake. Don’t expect a sealed path here, it’s a short, moderate trek through the Fiordland bush. Arrive at a hidden boat shed for your first glimpse of the glacial lake that time forgot, Lake Hankinson. Jump aboard a second boat and venture further into Fiordland with a boat ride up Lake Hankinson. As the bush clears, spot the oldest remaining hut in Fiordland National Park, Hankinson Hut. Admire its rich with history, full of stories of adventurers, deer cullers, and those seeking escape. The clear waters of the Wapiti River flowing past the hut may entice keen anglers, or you may simply take a moment to appreciate the immense ecological system that is Fiordland National Park.

Frequently asked questions about Southland Outdoor Activities

What are other things to do than Outdoor Activities that are worth visiting in Southland?

The other unmissable things to do in Southland are:

Other Sightseeing Options in Southland

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What people are saying about Southland

Fabulous cruise, certainly helped by beautiful weather, and the scenery is simply stunning. The "Faith" is a beautiful old boat and the crew, George and Sam, are most hospitable and friendly, and totally passionate about the boat the the tour they offer. The walk to the Hidden Lake is beautiful and we were entertained by several black robins along the way. Just make sure you wear sturdy shoes. The most relaxing way to spend 3 hours in Te Anau, such good value. Thank you George and Adam, and to Adam for some beautiful bagpipe playing way out in the middle of the lake.

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

Bridget was an amazing guide with a huge range of knowledge. Ulva Island is an exceptional place with its birds and vegetation. Highly recommend

Bloody amazing , i would do it again tomorrow, it was my number one on my NZ bucket list

We really enjoy hope soon we come back again thanks