Top 10 Ways to Spend Your Day Down South
Invercargill, what more do we need to say? The city of water and light, the home of the mighty Stags and the one place in New Zealand where you can talk like a pirate and manage to fit in. Yes, it’s the city of adventure, the city of opportunity and the city where it’s considered normal to see the mayor casually riding around on his scooter during lunch. Invercargill is the definition of affordable as there is so much to do at minimal costs. We could go on and on about how much we love this city, but we will cut to the chase and give you all our list of the top 10 affordable things to do while in Invercargill.
As a side note: R.I.P to the Water tower tours, Anderson Park Art Gallery and Invercargill Museum, you will all be sorely missed.
Ideal for family excursions or a cute wee date, Invercargill’s Queens Park has it all. A bird aviary, duck ponds, gardens, playgrounds, a water park, café and a mini zoo. Yup, you heard that last part right, Queens Park has a little zoo with a variety of animals ranging from farm animals like chickens and pigs, to mighty beasts like alpacas and the stag. Sorry, did we also forget to mention it has its own golf course, cricket grounds and fitness track too! Queens Park actually has something for everyone. So it is definitely a must see if you visit.
Want to go even further south? Well, head on down to Bluff and see what one of the earliest occupied European settlements in New Zealand looks like. Try the world-famous Bluff oyster or take a hike up the infamous Bluff Hill. There is so much maritime history to explore down south in Bluff that you won’t know where to go or what to do first. If you do end up spending the day there, you have to get a photo with the famous international sign at Stirling point. Get proof that you are brave enough to bare the wind and chill of the seaport town down south and set yourself up for the next point on your southern adventure…
That next point, of course, being Stewart Island, is a one hour ferry ride from Bluff. Being 30km south of the South Island, Stewart Island is one of New Zealand’s premium Eco-tourism destinations as unspoiled beauty awaits you at every turn. With a reported population of around 380 (2013), the island is mainly made up of untouched bush filled with the echoes of New Zealand’s native birds. Stewart Island works as a network of beautiful beaches with every location working as a perfect photo opportunity. You can’t get much further South in the world than Stewart Island. You could try your luck with going to Antarctica, but we have heard that place maybe even a little chillier than Southland, who would’ve thought?
Here is another photo opportunity for the gram, venture northeast and take Catlin’s scenic route out to coastal views of Nugget point. Take the 20-minute walk from the car park to the Tokata Lighthouse and have a look at the picturesque views of the wave-eroded rocks while you stand 80+ metres above sea level. Breathe in the fresh southern air and keep a look out for all the marine birds, yellow-eyed penguins and sea lions that nest along the rocks just below. If standing on top of a lighthouse doesn’t tickle your fancy, then check out one of the many walking tracks that are situated nearby. Nugget point is in close proximity to many beautiful photo opportunities, you surely won’t be disappointed.
The oldest thing you will see in Southland is surprisingly not a photo of the boys holding the Ranfurly shield, huh-hem 9-3, never forget. It is actually the fossilised remains of the forest out at Curio and Porpoise Bay. The 180 million-year-old remains are a sight to see as they are still to this day, one of the least disturbed Jurassic fossil forests in the world. But the preserved fossils aren’t the only attraction out at Curio Bay. It wouldn’t be a Southern site if there weren’t any Yellow-eyed penguins or Sea lions out and about. There is Marine wildlife all around the bay, so it pays to be careful and make sure you keep your distance. But what is also unique to the bay, is the presence of the Hector Dolphins. They have been found in the Curio and Porpoise Bay for about 20 years now. Make sure you keep your distance and give them their space though. They may be friendly, but they have sensitive skin, so try refrain from patting these small and rare creatures.
Hmm, natural beauty seems to be a running trend from Southland, as our next destination is full of it too. Sandy point, located just west of Invercargill, is an outstanding natural playground made up of forest, beach, river and estuary. With plenty of walking tracks and roads about, you can guarantee that you will be able to see your fair share of native plants and greenery.
One of the fastest beaches in New Zealand, Oreti Beach is one of the few beaches in New Zealand that allow you to drive along it. 26km in length, the beach was the training ground of Invercargill’s own ‘The World’s Fastest Indian’ Burt Munro. Oreti Beach was where the World’s Fastest Indian performed his test runs on his modified 1920’s Indian Scout motorcycle, before taking it over to the Utah Salt Flats in the US to break the world land speed record. Oreti Beach (as long as it isn’t a windy day) is an excellent place for a swim or for a BBQ. You can go for a play in the Sand Dunes or chill by the waves. Or if it gets a bit chilly, you can instead go for a drive and see how far along you can go before the fear of getting stuck overwhelms you and causes you to turn back.
One of Invercargill’s newer attractions is the Bill Richardson Transport Museum, home of Transport World, Motorcycle Mecca and Dig This. Boy does Invercargill enjoy their vehicles. With Transport World, Motorcycle Mecca and Dig This, all being located in different locations, the Bill Richardson Transport Museum is one of the world’s most extensive private collection of motor vehicles. With multiple world-class displays, their own cafes and even own accommodation, the transport museum is a must visit for anyone who loves wheels. Lose yourself in history, or the dirt, as you could have a visit to Invercargill’s first heavy equipment playground. You’ll get the opportunity to have some little kid fun on some big toys as you get to play on fully operational bulldozers, excavators and skid steers. Great for learning as well as a bit of fun. Dig this, however, is a rather expensive activity so make sure you check the prices before making an appointment.
If you want to combine the visit to some of these attractions into one activity, you could always have a go at the Invercargill Heritage Trail. Best done in a vehicle, the Heritage Trail showcases the historical Victorian buildings built there in the 1880s and 1890s. With 18 stops on tour, you could find yourself taking about half a day to complete it. You would find now closed attractions such as the Invercargill Museum and the Water Tower as well as some still open ones such as Civic Theatre and Donovan Park. The Heritage Trail is your quick and easy guide to Invercargill for a day and can be easily downloaded online.
OK, this last one isn’t exactly a location or actual activity, but just going out and experiencing what Invercargill is all about is a unique experience on its own. Have a cheese roll, roll your R’s, attend a stags game and go looking for a hill (the city is actually really flat). Go see for yourself why Mick Jagger was wrong in labelling the city the way that he did and go watch one of the back to back champions, Southland Sharks or Southern Steel do their thing. See the beauty and simplicity it has to offer as its suburban setup sets it apart from other cities in New Zealand. Nearly impossible to get lost in, Invercargill is an honest city for honest living. A great place to go for a day trip and an even greater place to live in.
P.S: This may or may not have been written by a Southlander.