Originally settled by Scottish immigrants, Invercargill has retained much of its turn-of-the-20th-century character, with broad main avenues (Tay Street and Dee Street) and streetscapes with richly embellished buildings. You'll find facades with Italian and English Renaissance styles, Gothic stone tracery, and Romanesque designs on a number of its well-preserved buildings.

Invercargill was featured in the movie The World's Fastest Indian (2005) starring Sir Anthony Hopkins as Invercargill-bred Burt Munro, a local "petrolhead" who raced his Indian motorcycle on Oreti Beach in preparation for breaking a world land speed record. Mayor Tim Shadbolt had a cameo in the film, which is worth seeing. Invercargill has a reputation to this day for "boy racers," and you'll notice them roaring up and down the city streets in tricked-out cars. Indignant Invercargillites blame the epidemic on “Gorons,” boy racers from neighboring city Gore. You might have a '50s flashback if you're waiting at a light and a lowrider next to you starts to rumble and rev its engine.

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