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This region holds the southernmost reaches of Aotearoa, including Stewart Island/Rakiura, and is dominated by Fiordland National Park, the country's largest. Southland's main centre, Invercargill, combines the staid Scottish formality of its settling European influence with a breathtaking sense of being just moments away from stunning wilderness and wide-open skies, with several rivers rushing through the city on their way to meet the sea.
Southland comprises a vast parcel of farmland hemmed in on all sides by either mountains, coastal native bush or Foveaux Strait and the Southern Ocean. What is not raised on pasture or grown is enthusiastically hunted or fished by locals and visitors. Travelling through Southland is a true visual reminder of this unique provenance. Whether it is abruptly rising snowcapped peaks, seen across lush, calmly rolling hills in an inland farming community such as Lumsden or Winton, or glimpsing Rakiura through seaspray and mist while standing on Bluff Hill with the fishing port at your back, you never feel far from either the humble industry of raising food or from the adventure of seeking it out from the untamed land and sea. Tradition, hard graft and innovation are intrinsically linked to the food and the finding of it, whether it be muttonbird from the Tītī Islands, whitebait from the Ōreti River or Bluff oysters and king salmon out of Foveaux Strait.
Small inland townships pepper the countryside. Lumsden has its very own coffee roastery ROAR, and the Bafé Bakery has must-stop-for doughnuts and outstanding pies. Winton has several cafés and country pubs to sample as well as the family-run Uppercuts Butchery and is only a half-hour drive from Invercargill. For wild food foragers, Gore is the gateway to reputedly the best dry-fly fishing in the world on the Mataura River.
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