Fiordland & Southland

Incorporated in this new centre is a pleasant cafe (lunch mains $10 to $22, dinner $26 to $38), visitor centre and the Gateway, a modern museum with a multiscreen film experience describing the evolution of the area, and a touchwall to learn about the petrified forest, penguins and local history.

To the side of the centre is the start of the walk to the petrified forest, via a penguin boardwalk that takes you over nesting grounds for endangered yellow-eyed penguin (hoiho). They waddle ashore from the beach at dusk and you might see them through the peep flaps, but do the right thing and keep your distance (at least 50m).

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Fiordland & Southland attractions

1. Petrified Forest

0.18 MILES

Marvel at the rare phenomenon of fossilised forest, extending south of Curio Bay. Preserved by silica in the ashy floodwaters that submerged these…

2. Waikawa Museum & Information Centre

3.05 MILES

A one-stop shop in a one-horse town, Waikawa's museum incorporates an information centre, acts as the reception for various local holiday rentals, and…

3. Slope Point

4.82 MILES

South Island’s true southerly point lies not in Bluff, as many mistakenly believe, but at the end of a 20-minute trudge through a windswept cliff-side…

4. Waipapā Lighthouse

12.08 MILES

Standing on a desolate but beautiful point surrounded by farmland, this 13.4m-high lighthouse was built after the SS Tararua disaster, an 1881 shipwreck…

5. McLean Falls

13.56 MILES

A lovely walk along wooden walkways and fern-fringed tracks brings you to the attractive McLean Falls, named for an early 20th-century settler renowned…

6. Cathedral Caves

13.63 MILES

Cutting back into cliffs right on the beach, the huge, arched Cathedral Caves were carved out of the limestone by 160 million years of waves. Named for…

7. Fortrose Cliffs

15.23 MILES

For those who appreciate stomach-flutteringly steep lookout points, the Fortrose Cliffs are a worthy photo-op on a drive between Invercargill and the…

8. Florence Hill Lookout

18.08 MILES

Three kilometres southwest of Papatowai, a short gravel road leads to sweeping Tautuku Bay, which can be viewed from on high at the Florence Hill Lookout…