The region's only city Invercargill offers a relaxed pace of life with wide streets, little traffic, spacious parks and gardens, striking Victorian and Edwardian architecture and impressive sporting facilities including New Zealand’s first indoor velodrome. Southland's location is such that views of Aurora Australis or the Southern Lights are common.
Population (2018 Census)
% born outside NZ:
Average house price Jan 2020:
The country’s lowest average house prices together with nationally competitive salaries offer many families a higher discretionary income than they can enjoy elsewhere in New Zealand.
An agricultural powerhouse, Southland is home to the world’s largest raw milk processing plant along with New Zealand’s only aluminium smelter. World-ranked national parks draw many tourists, low house prices attract residents and low fees draw students to the local Institute of Technology.
Early European settlement was dominated by Scots and the softly rolled ‘r’s of Southland residents - possibly New Zealand’s only regional accent - are a reminder of that heritage.
Southland is part of the Welcoming Communities Te Waharoa ki ngā Hapori pilot programme, which puts out the welcome mat to newcomers: recent migrants, former refugees and international students.
Coordinated through Venture Southland, the Gore and Southland District Councils, Invercargill City Council and Environment Southland are working with their communities to pilot Welcoming Communities in the Southland region.
Invercargill has a population around 57,000, and is seven hour’s drive from Christchurch and 1¾ hours by air from Auckland. Bluff serves as its seaport and is home to the fleet that dredges fresh oysters from Foveaux Strait from March till about August.
Southland has two distinct landscapes - expansive plains of fertile farmland crossed by trout-rich rivers, and Fiordland’s rugged, isolated coastline, inlets, lakes and mountains.
Economy and industry
Mainstays of the region’s economy are agriculture, led by dairy farming - Edendale is the world’s largest raw milk processing plant - and sheep. The aluminium smelter at Bluff is another major employer.
Tourism is important. Fiordland National Park attracts around a quarter of the tourist dollars spent in New Zealand annually. Forestry is also significant as well as fishing. The Southern Institute of Technology offers zero-fees tuition for many of its courses which is making education increasingly important.
Southland is cooler and wetter than other regions of New Zealand. Invercargill temperatures range between 9-19°C in summer (occasionally getting up to 25°C) and between 6-9°C in winter.
Invercargill is New Zealand's second windiest city.
Its relatively high latitude means the region enjoys nearly 16 hours of daylight at the height of summer but receives only around eight hours mid winter. The latitude also means occasional views of Aurora Australis, the ‘Southern Lights’.
Top five migrant populations (2018 Census)
Many migrants have already made Southland home. The table below shows where these migrants are moving from and demonstrates the diverse population you can expect to find in the region.
It can be comforting to know there are others, similar to you, who have experienced the move.
Country of origin
No. of migrants
UK and Ireland
|Europe (excl. UK and Ireland)||1,072 (1.1%)|
|Pacific Islands||877 (0.9%)|
Now that you know about what Southland has to offer, have a read about everyday life in the region, and services and support you can access.
Upcoming events in your region
Events for new migrants are regularly held throughout the country. Gain local insight into finding a job and getting setup and settled in New Zealand.