The southernmost region of New Zealand, Southland is wild, remote and sparsely populated. It is an area of huge lakes and snowcapped mountains. The 3,035-square-mile Fiordland National Park is the country’s largest. Visitors come to see the dramatic coastal scenery of Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound. Many areas can best be explored by jet boat. The heli-fishing for trophy brown and rainbow trout is world-renowned.
Southland is also famous for its long-distance hiking trails. The best-known are the Milford Track and the Kepler Track. The Kepler is a 37-mile-long circular trail that begins near the town of Te Anau. It takes hikers three to four days to make the trek, though runners on the annual Kepler Challenge complete the same route in less than five hours. The track ascends to a high point of 4,600 feet at Luxmore Saddle, where there are panoramic views. The 33 miles of the Milford Track extend from the head of Lake Te Anau to the sheer cliffs and mirror-like waters of Milford Sound. Highlights of the route include the 1,900-foot Sutherland Falls and the 3,800-foot Mackinnon Pass.