Southern Scenic Route

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Southern scenic route NZ marker.jpg

Southern Scenic Route
Route information
Maintained by NZ Transport Agency, Venture Southland, Destination Queenstown, Destination Fiordland, Clutha District Council, Dunedin City Council and Department of Conservation
Length610 km (380 mi)
Existed6 November 1988 (6 November 1988)–present
Major junctions
West end State Highway 6 NZ.svg State Highway 6a NZ.svg SH 6 at Queenstown
  State Highway 6 NZ.svg SH 6 and State Highway 97 NZ.svg SH 97 at Five Rivers

State Highway 97 NZ.svg SH 97 and State Highway 94 NZ.svg SH 94 at Mossburn
State Highway 94 NZ.svg SH 94 and State Highway 95 NZ.svg SH 95 at Te Anau
State Highway 95 NZ.svg SH 95 at Manapouri
State Highway 99 NZ.svg SH 99 at Clifden
State Highway 6 NZ.svg SH 6, State Highway 98 NZ.svg SH 98 and State Highway 99 NZ.svg SH 99 at Lorneville
State Highway 1 NZ.svg SH 1 and State Highway 6 NZ.svg SH 6 at Invercargill
State Highway 1 NZ.svg SH 1 at Balclutha
State Highway 1 NZ.svg SH 1 and State Highway 8 NZ.svg SH 8 at Clarksville


State Highway 1 NZ.svg SH 1 at Waihola
East end State Highway 1 NZ.svg SH 1 at Caversham, Dunedin
Highway system
Official logo Southernsceniclogo.jpg
Official logo
On Lake Te Anau On Lake Te Anau.jpg
On Lake Te Anau

The Southern Scenic Route is a tourist highway in New Zealand linking Queenstown, Fiordland, Te Anau and the iconic Milford Road to Dunedin via, Riverton, Invercargill and The Catlins. [1] An Australian travel magazine labelled it "one of the world's great undiscovered drives" in 2008. [2]

History and development

The Southern Scenic Route concept and name were conceived at an informal gathering by Tuatapere residents John Fraser and Les Hutchins in November 1985 and confirmed at a public meeting in January 1986. [3] [4] The promoters then negotiated with road and tourism authorities and local government.

The project was a first for New Zealand and approval was a slow process. [3] At one stage, traffic signs were installed in a clandestine operation. [3] The Route opened officially on 6 November 1988, [3] initially running between Te Anau in the west and Balclutha in the east. It was extended from Balclutha to Dunedin in 1998 [3] and from Te Anau to Queenstown in 2010.


Current route

Invercargill Water Tower, viewed from Leet St Invercargill Water Tower.jpg
Invercargill Water Tower, viewed from Leet St
Purakaunui Falls, 17 km (11 mi) southwest of Owaka Purakaunui.jpg
Purakaunui Falls, 17 km (11 mi) southwest of Owaka

The Route runs in a U shape from Queenstown to Dunedin. [1] Skirting the eastern boundary of Fiordland National Park, it passes Manapouri and Tuatapere. At Te Waewae Bay the coast is reached and the route swings eastward towards Orepuki, Colac Bay and Riverton. At Lorneville the New Zealand state highway network is joined, and the Southern Scenic Route runs on State Highway 6 for just eight kilometres south into Invercargill.

From Invercargill it heads east through Fortrose into the Catlins then through Owaka to Balclutha. This part was formerly State Highway 92. The next section of rugged coastline with poor roading through Kaitangata is avoided, as the Southern Scenic Route follows State Highway 1 (SH 1) to Milton and Lake Waihola.

The Route leaves the highway at Waihola and climbs through Otago Coast Forest rejoining the coastline at Taieri Mouth. From here it follows secondary roads through Brighton and Green Island, ending where it meets SH 1 again at Caversham.

Proposed extensions

In early 2007 [5] a proposal arose to extend the route northward beyond Dunedin through Waitati. In November 2007, the Dunedin City Council confirmed that it planned to talk with the Waitaki District Council about extending the route to Oamaru, an idea that was not adopted. [6]

Related Research Articles

Invercargill City in South Island, New Zealand

Invercargill is the southernmost and westernmost city in New Zealand, and one of the southernmost cities in the world. It is the commercial centre of the Southland region. The city lies in the heart of the wide expanse of the Southland Plains on the Oreti or New River some 18 km north of Bluff, which is the southernmost town in the South Island. It sits amid rich farmland that is bordered by large areas of conservation land and marine reserves, including Fiordland National Park covering the south-west corner of the South Island and the Catlins coastal region.

Balclutha, New Zealand Town in Otago, New Zealand

Balclutha is a town in Otago, lying towards the end of the Clutha River, on the east coast of the South Island of New Zealand. It is about halfway between Dunedin and Invercargill on the Main South Line railway, State Highway 1 and the Southern Scenic Route. Balclutha has a population of 4,060, and is the largest town in South Otago.

Riverton, New Zealand Place in South Island, New Zealand

Riverton is a small town 30 kilometres west of Invercargill and located on the south-eastern shorelines of the Jacobs River Estuary. This is formed by the Aparima and Pourakino rivers, leading through a narrow outflow channel into Foveaux Strait. Accessible via State Highway 99 on the Southern Scenic Route, the main part of the town is on flat land and the northern end of Oreti Beach. South Riverton is built on the hills between the eastern shore of the estuary and Taramea Bay.

The New Zealand state highway network is the major national highway network in New Zealand. Nearly 100 roads in the North and South Islands are state highways. All state highways are administered by the NZ Transport Agency.

Te Anau Town in New Zealand

Te Anau is a town in the Southland region of the South Island of New Zealand. It is on the eastern shore of Lake Te Anau in Fiordland. Lake Te Anau is the largest lake in the South Island and within New Zealand second only to Lake Taupo. The 2013 census recorded the town's population as 1,911. The town has a wide range of accommodation, with over 4,000 beds available in summer.

The Catlins Coastal region of the South Island of New Zealand

The Catlins comprises an area in the southeastern corner of the South Island of New Zealand. The area lies between Balclutha and Invercargill, straddling the boundary between the Otago and Southland regions. It includes the South Island's southernmost point, Slope Point.

Tuatapere Place in Southland region, New Zealand

Tuatapere is a small rural town in Southland, New Zealand. It is located eight kilometres from the southern coast. The Waiau River flows through the town before reaching Te Waewae Bay, where it has its outflow into Foveaux Strait. The main local industries are forestry and farming. As of the 2013 New Zealand census, its population is 558, a decrease of 21 from 2006.

Mount Cook Airline was a regional airline based in Christchurch, New Zealand. Formerly part of the Mount Cook Group and latterly a subsidiary of Air New Zealand, it operated scheduled services throughout the country under the Air New Zealand Link brand. In December 2019, the brand name was retired with all services operated under the Air New Zealand banner.

State Highway 1 (New Zealand) Road in New Zealand

State Highway 1 is the longest and most significant road in the New Zealand road network, running the length of both main islands. It appears on road maps as SH 1 and on road signs as a white number 1 on a red shield, but it has the official designations SH 1N in the North Island, SH 1S in the South Island.

H & J Smith

H & J Smith Holdings Ltd, branded as H & J Smith and known colloquially as H&J's or Smith's is a company which operates in the lower South Island of New Zealand. The company primarily operates department stores, but also some specialty stores and franchises. The department stores are located in Invercargill, Dunedin, Gore, Queenstown, Te Anau, and Balclutha. There were also department stores in Nelson and Blenheim but these stores closed in March 2006. H & J Smith has been operating since 1900.

State Highway 94 (New Zealand) Road in New Zealand

State Highway 94 is a New Zealand state highway connecting the large Southland town of Gore with one of New Zealand's most popular destinations, Milford Sound. It also passes the significant townships of Lumsden and Te Anau as well going through the Homer Tunnel. The road also goes through Fiordland and crosses the Main Divide of the Southern Alps.

State Highway 95 (New Zealand) Road in New Zealand

State Highway 95 is a New Zealand state highway connecting the town of Manapouri with Te Anau at State Highway 94. The highway is a major tourist road and skirts the eastern border of Fiordland National Park between Lake Te Anau and Lake Manapouri. Despite affording views of the scenic mountain ranges of Fiordland, the road itself is largely flat and passes through agricultural land. The entire length of the road lies on the Southern Scenic Route between Queenstown and Dunedin via Invercargill.

State Highway 97 (SH 97) is a New Zealand State Highway connecting the settlements of Five Rivers and Mossburn in the Southland region. The highway was gazetted in 2004 to reflect the increasing amount of traffic between the tourist destinations of Queenstown and Fiordland National Park and provides a bypass of the town of Lumsden, where SH 6 and 94 intersect.

State Highway 99 (New Zealand) Road in New Zealand

State Highway 99 is a New Zealand state highway which runs along the southern coastline of the South Island connecting the settlements of Clifden and Lorneville, near Invercargill, via the major town of Riverton in the Southland region. The road is important both as a freight route, especially for logging and agricultural purposes, and as a tourist route; the entire length of the highway is part of the Southern Scenic Route as it provides access to southern parts of Fiordland National Park.

Southland, New Zealand Region of New Zealand

Southland is New Zealand's southernmost region. It consists mainly of the southwestern portion of the South Island and Stewart Island/Rakiura. It includes Southland District, Gore District and the city of Invercargill. The region covers over 3.1 million hectares and spans over 3,400 km of coast.

Mainland Air is a general aviation, flight training and air charter company operating out of Dunedin International Airport in New Zealand.

Leslie Hutchins was a New Zealand tourism operator and conservationist. Together with his wife, he bought a tourism company in 1954 that is today Real Journeys; it still remains mostly in family ownership. Hutchins was one of the founding members of the Save Manapouri campaign and became one of the initial six Guardians of Lake Manapouri.

Southland is an electorate to the New Zealand House of Representatives. It was first created for the 2020 New Zealand general election.


  1. 1 2 route map on official website
  2. Dennis, Anthony (2 December 2008). "World's top emerging travel destinations". The Sydney Morning Herald . Fairfax. Retrieved 30 January 2011.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 Julie Walls (ed) Southern Scenic Route Visitor Publication 7ed, Focus Publications, Te Anau, November 2006
  4. Dodgshun, Joe (12 February 2011). "Scenic drive completes the circle". Otago Daily Times . Retrieved 9 August 2020.
  5. from
  6. 'Blueskin Road proposed for Scenic Highway' on, retrieved 19 November 2007