Capital of the Southland, right at the bottom of the South Island, gateway to New Zealand’s most beautiful scenery. Immerse yourself in the seafood culture, taste the famous succulent bluff oysters.
Travel through the Southland Museum
On a cloudy day, why not explore the Southland Museum and Art Gallery. The remarkable sight of a twenty-seven metre high pyramid housing the museum will leave you wondering what you are entering into.
The kids (and the kids at heart) will be enthralled at the live displays of the tuatara. Step back in time to the roaring 40s. View the variety of national and international exhibitions on display.
Recline in Queens Park
On a sunny day, take the time to relax in Queens Park. An amazingly tranquil eighty hectare park set in the centre of the city. Wander through the varied rose gardens, smell a rhododendron or azalea, contemplate life in the Japanese garden, stroll through the looming trees, bush paths and rock and herb gardens.
Enter inside the indoor winter garden with tropical and flowering plants and cacti blooming on either side.
Tread inside the large bird aviary, watching as the birds flitter from branch to branch, curiously eyeing you in anticipation for food.
Your children will giggle with delight as the Alpacas and deer nuzzle your hand for food, while the pigs plod along scavenging in the dirt.
Explore the Sandy Shores
Roam the 2,000 hectare sand and shingle Sandy Point peninsula. Learn about the history of the whaler that distilled rum from the many cabbage trees littering the area.
Pleasantly gaze out across the waters on Oreti Beach, once called Ma te Aweawe (Misty Way). Watch as the people before you go off into the distance, appearing to float above the sand and disappearing into the mist.
Take a boat out to Nugget Point; viewing fur seals, sea lions, elephant seals, yellow-eyed penguins, and a breeding colony of gannets, shags and sooty shearwaters habitat the rocky outcrops, the tide flowing in and out carrying their dinner.
Porpoise Bay is a must-see for the entire family. Famously known for the rare Hector’s dolphins surfing in the waves, you might even have a chance to swim with them.
Yellow-eyed penguins, fur seals and sea lions bath on the rocks.
Indulge in the Seriously Good Chocolate Company
After a bit of exploring reward yourself by visiting the Seriously Good Chocolate Company. You won’t have seen chocolates quite like these.
Specialising in alcoholic chocolates; tickling your taste buds with Pinot Noir truffles, Riesling truffles, Sauvignon Blanc truffles, Speights and Pinot Gris truffles amongst others. Or try their Haka bar, with a Speights chocolate filling.
The kiwiana range made of Sauvignon Blanc truffles, liquorice truffles, dried fruits, manuka honey chocolate and lemon & Paeroa chocolates.
Indulge in the white chocolate Pavalova truffles infused with vanilla and fruit.
Sample their standard range of Bailey’s logs, coffee chocolate, cranberry and Pinot chocolate log, and Flat White chocolate log.
After all that indulging, it’s off to climb the forty-two metre high water tower.
Stewart Island Getaways
Experience an adventure on the Stewart Island Flights, half to full day of taking the coast to coast adventure over Mason Bay; a four to five hour wilderness trek, taking the water taxi ride through the Freshwater River to Golden Bay.
Stewart Island seems be a haven amidst the turbulent seas. With only one tiny village, twenty-seven kilometres of sealed roads, and 157,000 hectares of lush rainforest and sand dunes rising and falling above the crystal blue ocean.
Dive into the depths as the warm currents sweep over you from the Australian Great Barrier Reef, sending 170 species of seaweed, and over fifty species of fish circling around you.
An hour’s ferry ride will take you to this tranquil setting, every which way you turn water washes over bays, golden sand beaches beckon, densely forested hills rise above the sea, not even a picture being able to capture the moment.
Fire over Water Rapids
But for the adrenaline junkie, experience Stewart Island at its finest. Jump on the Hump Ridge Jet across lakes and down rivers, crash over twenty-seven kilometres of Grade 3 rock strewn water rapids.
Snake through the forests on short or long treks, hearing the call of the wild.
Sit back and listen to the birds chirping around you as you munch on a bush-style venison BBQ lunch.
For those that really want to uncover the secrets this island holds; tramp over hills, past valleys, climbing up mountainous peaks on the four to five hour trek to Percy Burn Viaduct. A 125 metre length ravine and thirty-six metre high wooden ravine, the largest in the world.
Or be really adventurous and take the three day trek covering the vast landscape of the island, to view the other ravines used for logging, now deserted.
Track along Rakiura National Park
Plunge into the forestry depths of Rakiura National Park, through its 245 km of walking tracks. From ten minute strolls, to basic day walks, or the mother-load – a three day track through native bush, coastal paradise and historic landmarks.
Tramping along the tracks, you may spot a Stewart Island kiwi coming out to feed, the only kiwi that feeds during the day.
See a weka slither out from the bush to peer curiously up at you. Hear the call of the kaka, tui, bellbirds, native pigeons and the rare saddleback.
Immerse in Untarnished Nature
Five Islands lie 600 miles to the south of Invercargill. These islands hold New Zealand’s most remote and sensitive nature reserves and harbour, still some areas remaining untouched by humans.
Step off the boat onto Ulva island’s misty atmosphere, enveloping you in the surreal ambiance the island holds. The light mottled, surrounding you with a thicker and cooler air. Listen to your guide explain to you how Steward Island is called the ‘old New Zealand’, untarnished by man-made buildings.
Learn about how the Maori used the plants around you to cure ailments, hear how your guide identifies the bird calls, and walk past a 900 year old rimu tree.
Peer skywards to the totara, rimu and horoeka extending to the blue sky, looming over the pathway, covering it in shadow.
Tour around the Land and Water
Ride a horse like you would never have ridden a horse before. Traverse over the 18,000 acre high country on horseback. For the experienced horse rider, join the workers and canter along to gather the herd, scattered across the ranges.
If you are looking for more of an underwater adventure, take the Marine Nature two-an-a-half hour cruise. Glide along the water to see dolphins surfing the waves, then slowly descend under the watery depths in a semi-submersive boat and look out for seals, great white sharks, penguins, dolphins and albatross.
Or take the Southern Aqua Adventures. Dive into the waters, fish swarming around you; go fishing for your dinner; paddle in a kayak down the inlets of Stewart Island.
Submerge under water in a cage; watching as the great white shark looms ever closer, his large mouth opening wide, displaying his razor sharp teeth, death-defying close to your face.
Journey off to the Caitlins
The Caitlins is the gateway to Dunedin, the Bluff and Invercargill; but it holds a generous sprinkling of pleasures to guarantee an enjoyable stay.
Day tours take you through unblemished nature; white blooms sprinkle the side of the road, dotting the scenic routes in spring.
Climb to Nugget Point, to the top of the Lighthouse; peering down at the Elephant seal paddling along the shores. Gaze down at the wave-eroded rocks creating an open mine of gold nuggets tumbling down the cliff face. The fur seals sunbathing on the rocks, the colony seeming to bathe the area with mottled grey, their calls echoing across the sea.
Amble through the internationally renowned Petrified Forest, world’s finest fossil forest. At first glance looking over at Curio Bay, all you can see is sand and sea.
Slowly descending onto the sandy beach, you stroll across the vast expanse, suddenly coming to this ancient forest. Enter into another era, the Jurassic period coming back to life, feeling as if a dinosaur may suddenly arise from the fossilised branches.
Meander along to discover McLean Falls, the tumbling waters smoothing out to a calm stream.
The tour taking you along the sand to explore Cathedral caves, two large openings, shut off from the tide. Mosey inside the opening, the vast expanse of sea eroded stone, some parts standing thirty metres in sections. Varied colours and rock formations surround you as you step inside, as though you are entering into another world, another time.
Journey on to Purakaunui Falls; strolling through podocarp and beech forest. The clear, crisp waters cascade over three tiers of rocky outcrops; like a layer cake of movement.
Watch for that steep decline to the lower platform to view the fall framed by the looming trees, inching closer to the water’s edge.
Finally arriving at Cannibal Bay to spot the rarest sea lion in the world – the Hooker’s sea lion.
Even though it’s at the bottom of the south island, Invercargill gathers the fruits from the sea, laying them at your fingertips.
Invercargill, “What to see and do”, Accessed 24/08/11 www.invercargill.org.nz
The Seriously Good Chocolate Company, Accessed 24/08/11, www.theseriouslygoodchocolatecompany.com
Stewart Island, “Stewart Island Experience”, Accessed 24/08/11, http://www.stewartislandexperience.co.nz
Caitlins, Accessed 24/08/11, http://www.caitlins.co.nz