An hour and a half's drive south of Dunedin the Catlins is one of the less visited parts of the country. A mixture of farmland and bushy reserves its relatively uninhabited coastline hosts rich marine and birdlife. The area from Owaka south is particularly scenic and good for viewing penguins, porpoises, seals and the occasional sea lion. Visit the private museum at Niagara and the great little Niagara Falls cafe in the old school house there as well as beautiful Curio Bay.
Everyone falls in love with Stewart Island; its peace, smallness, friendliness, remotely beautiful beaches and unrivaled birdlife. The tiny population is mainly within the fishing village of Oban; 85 percent of Stewart Island is National Park. While far to the south and with a reputation for stormy weather, the climate is actually milder than some parts of the mainland. The island is large with long multi-day hiking tracks, a variety of terrain and forest, wetland, high rocky heathlands and tortuous coastline with several deep bays and harbours. Stewart Island is all about marine and birdlife, amazing fishing, unusual tastes such as Muttonbird, and far and away your best chance to see kiwi in the wild.
Dunedin-Owaka: 1 hour 30 mins
Owaka-Invercargill: 2 hours, 30 mins
Bluff-Oban (by ferry): 1 hour
Invercargill-Oban (by plane): 20 mins