Well-managed growth of the tourism and events sector is supported. This will be alongside the dispersal of visitors around the region to ensure benefits are shared and to create balance for areas under pressure.

Destination Dev Mgt

Tourism remains a key diversification opportunity for the region however, Murihiku Southland was one of the hardest Covid-19 impacted destinations in New Zealand.

The region is focused on re-shaping the future of tourism by inviting visitors to this special place at the southern edge of the world, experiencing it in a way that provides lasting benefits for the region’s people and place.

Pre-pandemic, the region’s tourism economy was worth close to $700 million. The region had a high dependency on international visitors, especially as this is the home to New Zealand’s most recognisable international icon, Piopiotahi Milford Sound. 

The post Covid recovery is pleasing to date, mostly due to having a very clear pathway as outlined in the Murihiku Southland Destination Strategy. As one of the first regions to develop a destination management plan back in 2018, this recently reviewed Plan not only aligns with the New Zealand Government Tourism Strategy but has guided us through the pandemic.

The refreshed Murihiku Southland Destination Strategy in 2023, articulates the continued pathway to recovery, and highlights the importance of three key areas: 

  1. Sustainability and supporting tourism businesses on their individual decarbonisation journeys. 
  2. Development of appropriate shared infrastructure (including roading and accommodation) to ensure we look after our unique natural environment. The region hosts two national parks and five of the 11 great walks. 
  3. Development of unique experiences and projects which allow the region to share its’ distinctive story and heritage. This includes working alongside Papatipu Rūnaka to develop cultural experiences and projects.

There are five key enablers which will support well-managed growth of our tourism sector - Regulatory and Planning, Workforce, Accommodation, Data and Leadership.

Next Steps


In Progress

"An implementation plan for the updated Murihiku Southland Destination Strategy is developed and includes a focus on the five key enablers (Workforce, Data, Leadership, Regulatory and Planning and Accommodation)"

  • While key projects are being delivered, an overall implementation plan is also being developed.

In Progress

"Provision of fit for purpose infrastructure meeting the needs of local communities and visitors, including air connectivity into and around the region (Waihōpai Invercargill and Te Anau."

  • The needs of the tourism sector and wider community in regards to infrastructure and connectivity are being considered and advocated for.  This includes through submissions to Government policies as well as inclusion in spatial planning and Council Long Term Plans.

In Progress

"The Motupōhue Visitor Experience - Te Taurapa o Te Waka project is further explored."

  • Great South continues to support Te Rūnaka o Awarua with the initial stages to investigate this project. The next stages include a feasibility study alongside a fundraising plan.

In Progress

"Support Papatipu Rūnaka to develop cultural narrative projects around the region."

  • Great South is supporting the region's four papatipu runaka with key cultural narrative projects including Punanga Manu o Te Anau/Te Anau Bird Sanctuary project, the Motupōhue Visitor Experience - Te Taurapa o Te Waka project and the Tuturau Reserve Interpretation Panels.

In Progress

"The Milford Opportunities Project is supported to be further explored."

  • The investigative stage of the Milford Opportunities project will conclude mid 2024 with recommendations and next steps to be considered by the Government.

In Progress

"Supporting the sector on its journey towards sustainability and meeting our net zero goals through delivery of the Murihiku Southland Tourism Sustainability Programme (which is connected to wider decarbonisation outreach programmes)."

  • To date a number of businesses have begun their decarbonisation journeys through this programme which has been facilitated by Great South.  Future programmes will be determined by resource and funding.

Not Yet Started

"Integrated regional promotional positioning using Murihiku - The South Land."

  • Socialisation and positioning will occur once this project is confirmed.