Visitation to Southland via cruise ships has long been popular and is increasing across the region.

With the spectacular natural attractions of Stewart Island, Fiordland and the Sub Antarctic Islands, it is easy to see why Southland is a popular cruise destination. Fiordland, as a cruise destination has been promoted internationally by Cruise New Zealand and Tourism New Zealand as a must-visit component of the total New Zealand cruise experience since the late 1990's. As a result of this the number of visits and size of vessels have both increased in Southland with a small number of expedition ships visiting the Sub-Antarctic Islands also utilising the services offered by the port of Bluff.

As a member of Cruise New Zealand, Venture Southland is active in national planning and initiatives, and is able to share visitor statistics and other information with Southland operators and organisations to further their understanding of the industry. In engaging with cruise ship operators Southland is able to be promoted as a place to visit with valuable shore excursion options. The aim of these on-shore experiences is to not only support transport, hospitality, activity and attraction providers but also to ensure that passengers have a memorable Southland experience - which may give them reason for future (longer) visits.

Advocating for and assisting with infrastructure improvement planning is also a fundamental part of Venture Southland’s cruise programme. This includes advocating for the improvement of the local infrastructure as Bluff is currently limited as an option for bigger vessels. Currently the “Heritage Expedition” uses Bluff as the departure point for trips down to the Sub-Antarctic, a partnership for 20 years that continues to works well. Venture Southland is also supporting Southport to look at their wharves on Stewart Island. The team is committed to growing visitor numbers through cruise ship passengers and recognise that infrastructure is vital to being able to do so.

The promotion and development of commissionable products alongside the visitation coordination of cruise ship representatives contributes to Southland being included in cruise ship itineraries.

Southern New Zealand Cruise Destination Strategy

The Southern New Zealand Cruise Destination Strategy was developed in 2016 and recommended that a framework for this strategy should be developed and signed off by key regional stakeholder groups before being implemented. The strategy recommended Venture Southland lead the implementation of this strategy which will enhance the visitor experience of cruise passengers to Stewart Island and other Southland destinations.

Download the Southern New Zealand Cruise Destination Strategy: