The Southern Scenic Highway connects Dunedin and Queenstown in New Zealand and passes through some of the most picturesque natural spaces. The 341-kilometer trip takes scenic routes through the Strath Taieri and Maniototo Plains as it travels from the Pacific Ocean to the base of the Southern Alps. Learn about the varied terrain that transitions from alpine tussock to crumpled yellow hills and undulating plains. Discover the backroads where gold miners traveled in the nineteenth century, hoping to make money.
When travelers leave Queenstown, they enter the historic Otago region, which is known as a top tourist destination. The trek starts at the bottom of the Southern Alps, the Strath Taieri glacial valley. It traverses the Maniototo plains, concluding in the pastoral hills surrounding Dunedin. How to go from Queenstown to Dunedin is shown below.
Starting in Queenstown
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Are you the kind of person who occasionally likes a little excitement? For you, Queenstown is the ideal location. Coronet Peak, considered one of the top resorts, is a great place to go skiing if you travel during the winter. Another favorite ski area is The Remarkables Ski Area, where you can practice your turns. One of Aotearoa’s most well-known tourist sites is Queenstown, a playground for the daring and a wonderland of Instagrammable locations. Queenstown, located at the base of the Southern Alps on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, offers thrilling adventures for thrill seekers.
Consider extreme sports like bungee jumping, jet boating, canyoning, parasailing, and heli-biking, or pure luxury for hedonists with its world-class wines, 5-star lodges and spa retreats, and a variety of fine-dining restaurants. To fully enjoy Queenstown’s uniqueness, a stay of at least one or two nights is ideal. Many lodging alternatives suit most tastes, from 5-star hotels and luxury lodges to backpacker-friendly hostels.
The Milford Sounds and Fiordland National Park are accessible from this beautiful hamlet on the South Island. There is a ton of adventure here for you to experience. Visit Fiordland National Park in Te Anau, which has an area of 12,607 km2 and is the largest of New Zealand’s 14 national parks. You can find breathtaking waterfalls on all sides of the Fiords and many other natural beauties. Learn about penguins, fur seals, bottlenose dolphins, and much more. Te Anau caverns are among the primary attractions when you visit Te Anau.
Continue to Manapouri from Te Anau, which takes about 20 minutes. Manapouri is a great place to put your feet up and relax for the rest of the day because it is on the shores of the stunning Lake Manapouri. The trails to Frasers Beach, which are nothing short of incredible, especially in the Summer, are to be followed if you still have some energy to spare. The 30-minute home creek circle walk is another excellent option just off the road from whence you arrived. And this travels along a peaceful brook where you can discover tranquility.
Just 80 kilometers separate Tuatapere from Tuatapere. Tautapere is a peaceful little village that’s wonderful for unwinding. It has a long sawmilling history and even has a logging museum that is interesting to explore. The Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track is a three-day loop hike that travels through the renowned Waitutu coastal marine terraces, native beech woodland, historic viaducts, sub-alpine environments, and stunning sandstone outcrops.
The Tuatapere Hump Track Charitable Trust oversees and runs the track. The Rarakau Farm parking lot is where the 53-kilometer (33-mile) circuit track departs from Bluecliff Beach. New Zealand has it all: breathtaking glaciers, charming fiords, steep mountains, enormous plains, rolling hillsides, subtropical forests, volcanic plateaus, and miles of spectacular coastline with lovely sandy beaches. Explore Tuatapere’s various gorgeous vistas with your camera.
Continue to Bluff. You may or may not be aware that Bluff is renowned worldwide for its exquisite seafood. The Bluff Oyster is that rarity, and you’ll be feasting on it for supper on Day 5. People from all over the world travel specifically to do it. You are fortunate. It practically falls into your lap because it is a part of the Southern Scenic Route. To offer you an idea of how revered it is, the oyster even has its yearly festival that sells out months in advance. You’ll have a wide variety of options for indulging, and you’ll feel so full afterwards that you’ll no doubt go off for a sound sleep.
Invercargill, also known as Waihpai in Mori, is not only the southernmost city in New Zealand but also one of the southernmost cities on earth. Only 28 kilometers separate Bluff from Invercargill. Think of historical structures and an older man who once rode a motorcycle incredibly quickly. Think about the extraordinarily long summer days. Imagine a colorful, eccentric mayor with a never-ending supply of “leave your imprint on the map” concepts. Imagine a city with a comparable population to Whangarei and Nelson; instead of being isolated from the rest of the world, it is a hub for essential things and gets surrounded by a neighborhood that offers variety, style, and a relaxed, friendly vibe.
At the Tahakopa River’s mouth is a tiny community called Papatowai. Like many locations in New Zealand, its allure is its untamed wilderness, especially its lush podocarp forest. Moa fossils have also been discovered here, which was the location of an early Maori settlement. You can engage in various activities in Papatowai. Visit The Lost Gypsy Gallery, a storied destination that is truly magical but difficult to explain. It’s a gallery full of hilarious artwork that makes you laugh aloud—a wonderful one for children. Don’t leave without taking the 40-minute Old Coach Road Walk, which begins at the Tahakopa River parking lot and ends at the beach. It travels a path once taken by antique coaches and passes several fascinating historical places.
One of the area’s most significant towns is Balclutha, a beautiful and convenient destination to spend your last night. Balclutha is the next in line. It is in the center of the mighty Clutha River, the most incredible river in New Zealand in terms of volume. The Blair Athol Walkway is a terrific option for a stroll that will reward you with breathtaking views of the river in all its splendor. The South Otago Museum, which is in Balclutha, also shares the area’s history with a focus on the Gold Mining Era.
And Dunedin is the final. Your final stop, the magnificent city of Dunedin, has been reached. Ideally, leave early, so you have plenty of time to see the city. Larnach Castle, the only castle ever constructed in New Zealand, is located in Dunedin. Since the 1870s, the court has played a significant role in history. It is one of the city’s most well-liked attractions and has been painstakingly restored to its interior and former exterior splendor. The adjacent grounds are similarly beautiful, and the Ballroom Cafe offers a High Tea experience.
A visit to Dunedin’s many outstanding museums is another terrific chance to experience some of its rich histories. The Toitu Settlers Museum, a social history museum that provides an exceptionally vivid portrait of the people and their past, must be among the best. Everything is covered, including their relationships, the arts, fashion, culture, and more. The building includes an extra wing, making it a modern, cutting-edge complex. Enjoy the most out of your trip.