Travelling south from Dunedin, Lake Waihola is a picturesque stop at the southern end of the Taieri Plain, popular for boating, fishing and swimming, while nearby Sinclair Wetlands one of New Zealand’s most significant. Milton, near the road junction to central Otago, is an ideal base for exploring the coastal areas including Taieri Mouth, Toko Mouth and Bull Creek. Milton – formerly ‘Milltown’ on the Tokomairiro Plains – has a museum, golf course and other sporting attractions.
Further inland, you’ll reach the historic town of Lawrence, site of the first Otago gold rush at Gabriel’s Gully in the 1860’s. Try your hand at gold panning or soak up the history through the architecture from times past with many remarkable designs from the goldmining era. The Goldfields Museum in Lawrence brings alive the pioneering spirit.
The Balclutha area and the rich farming and forestry areas of West Otago are favoured destinations for thousands of anglers who are attracted to the areas’ rivers by fine trout and salmon fishing. The Blue Mountains provide a spectacular backdrop to the township of Tapanui, at the heart of West Otago. There are many tramping and hunting opportunities. Tapanui also boasts one of the finest 18 hole country golf courses south of Dunedin. The Clinton and Waipahi areas on State Highway One are noted for their intensive pastoral farmlands and range of recreational pursuits.
Turning towards the coast, the visitor will come to the Nugget Point Lighthouse set atop a lonely windswept promontory. Marine mammals and birds as well as the rugged coastal geography make this a popular attraction.
Balclutha is the gateway on the Southern Scenic Route to the Catlins and Southern Coast, places of great natural beauty. This is one of the few parts of the country where original podocarp forest may be seen in a continually regenerating state through carefully co-ordinated replanting and environmental protection programmes. Further south, dense rain forest gives way to open scrub country as one passes through deep valleys and past rocky coastal bays, inlets and estuaries.
Purakaunui Falls are amongst the most photographed in New Zealand, with Matai Falls also well worth a visit. In secluded spots like Pounawea, bellbirds and tuis echo through the bush clad setting.