Otago and Southland Campervan Holiday
From the lovely Scottish architecture of Dunedin to the wild beauty of the Catlins Coast, Otago and Southland are wonderful regions to discover by road. And as you journey by campervan through this region, you will enjoy the legendary southern hospitality that is famous with the locals. If you love oysters, you'll be taking the quickest route to Bluff, the home of the mighty Bluff Oyster.
- New Zealand’s first university city, Dunedin, is memorable for its historical architecture. It is regarded to be one of the best preserved Victorian and Edwardian cities in the Southern Hemisphere. Many Dunedin buildings date back to the gold rush. First Church, University of Otago’s clock tower, Larnach’s castle and Otago Boys High School were built in the late 1800s, and Dunedin railway station was completed in 1906.
- Dunedin is the Celtic form of Edinburgh, and original city plans were based on Edinburgh. While many street names are the same as Edinburgh’s, town planners had to alter the plans to accommodate hills and swamps.
- Dunedin is also renowned for its proximity to wildlife. Within a short drive from the city, campervanners can see the hoiho, or yellow-eyed penguin (the world’s rarest), the world’s only mainland breeding colony of the royal albatross and rare New Zealand sea lions.
- This region is rich in gold mining history – try your luck with a gold pan!
- Otago Peninsula - with an albatross colony at Taiaroa Head, and populations of rare yellow-eyed penguins and fur seals - is a hub for sustainability and nature-based activities.
- Invercargill, the largest city in Southland, is a laid-back country town with a Scottish heritage. A stop-off point on the Southern Scenic route, Invercargill offers legendary southern hospitality and a base to explore beautiful wild destinations like the Catlins coast and Curio Bay. Curio Bay has an 180-million-year-old petrified forest.
- From Bluff, visitors can catch a ferry to New Zealand’s third island, Stewart Island - a haven for native bird life and one of the only places in New Zealand where you can readily see kiwi in their natural habitat. Approximately 85% of Stewart Island comprises New Zealand’s newest national park - Rakiura National Park, which opened in 2002.
- Southland region has many diverse hiking routes from short walks to multi-day treks.
- Oamaru, where the main attractions are Victorian whitestone buildings and a blue penguin colony, continues Otago’s strong focus on eco-tourism and heritage.
- The nearest city that has motorhome rental depots is Christchurch, which is roughly a 5 hour drive from Dunedin.
Clyde, which like many Central Otago towns owes its existence to gold, was discovered here in 1861 by miners Horatio Hartley and Christopher Reilly, and their large strike the following year began the Dunstan Rush.
Duntroon is a town established in the mid 1870s on the trout-laden Waitaki River. There are several historical sites to see here including the old jail, complete with stocks, the Duntroon war memorial and memorial oak tree, and Nicol’s Blacksmith Shop.
In the high, sheltered Gibbston Valley, vineyards huddle beneath the jagged schist mountains of the Southern Alps, well protected from coastal winds. The valley produces a range of wines almost as dramatic as the landscape itself, and cool tasting experiences such as the candlelit ambience of a deep schist cave turned wine cellar at Gibbston Valley Wines.
Lawrence is an old goldmining township that warmly welcomes visitors and even invites you to become honorary citizen during your stay. To do so, simply visit the Lawrence Information Centre to be recorded in the register!
Makarora is a place where the long grassy flats and sprawling high country stations give way to the silvery beeches of the Blue Pools, and the three-hour Blue Valley Track, leading to Stewart Falls.
Palmerston is a town with a wealth of colonial buildings hailing from the old gold mining days. The town and surrounding countryside share many stories about those who came here seeking the gleam of gold and these, along with much information about the area’s past can be discovered on the Goldfields Heritage Trail.
Ranfurly was established in 1898 as a railhead for the Central Otago railway line transporting both passengers and freight to the region’s gold fields. Some of Ranfurly’s architecture also dates back to the gold rush however many of its historic buildings were destroyed by fire in the 1930s and replaced with the simple modernist art deco architecture of the time.
In Roxburgh, gold was discovered in the Teviot River in 1862; these days Roxburgh’s gold comes in the form of sun-ripened fruits including apricots, nectarines and peaches, and a range of other pip and stone fruits which have made it well known as the “fruit growing heart” of the region.