HMNZS Southland was commissioned into RNZN service on 21 December 1983. She along with HMNZS Wellington would replace HMNZS Otago and Taranaki. Southland carried out a range of duties including exercises, ceremonials, and maritime rescues. In 1992 Southland participated in Operation OCTANUS. This was a joint MAF/Police operation against paua poachers based in Bluff.