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Southern Scenic Route

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]

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 endState Highway 6 NZ.svgState 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 94 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 endState Highway 1 NZ.svg SH 1 at Caversham, Dunedin
Highway system
Official logo
On Lake Te Anau

History and developmentEdit

The Southern Scenic Route concept and name were conceived at an informal gathering in Tuatapere in November 1985 and confirmed at a public meeting in January 1986.[3] 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 routeEdit

Invercargill Water Tower, viewed from Leet St
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 extensionsEdit

In early 2007[4] 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.[5]


  1. ^ a b 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. ^ a b c d e Julie Walls (ed) Southern Scenic Route Visitor Publication 7ed, Focus Publications, Te Anau, November 2006
  4. ^ from
  5. ^ 'Blueskin Road proposed for Scenic Highway' on, retrieved 19 November 2007

External linksEdit