6 Best Sights in Invercargill, Otago, Invercargill, and Stewart Island

Bill Richardson Transport World

More than 300 trucks and VW Kombis (that's a VW bus, to Americans) are on display, alongside motoring memorabilia and petrol bowsers—or, again for Americans, gas pumps. Kids who get bored looking at old cars will enjoy a special Lego learning space geared to them. There's something for everyone here, including a display of classic motorcycles and an interactive display of heavy machinery. It is reputed to be the largest such private collection in the world.


In the tiny seaport township of Bluff ("The Bluff" to locals) you can taste the coveted namesake oysters. An annual festival, held in May, wallows in seafood delicacies; oyster-opening and oyster-eating competitions and cook-offs are part of the fun. (If you miss the festival, the most spectacular place for oysters, in season, is Lands End Restaurant overlooking the sea). Don't miss the Maritime Museum on the Foreshore Road (the Oyster boat Monica sits beside it). Bluff is also home to the frequently photographed Stirling Point signpost, at the southern end of State Highway 1, which gives directions to places all over the world, including the South Pole. If it's a nice day follow the signs up to Bluff Lookout: the views encompass the Catlins and Stewart Island, and give you an excellent lay of the land. Good walking tracks are around Bluff; many begin at Stirling Point. The town is also the main jumping-off point for Stewart Island. It's about 30 km (19 miles) from Invercargill to Bluff, an easy half-hour drive south on State Highway 1.

E. Hayes and Sons

Invercargill's most famous sight is a 100-year-old hardware store that stocks every little thing you can think of. It's totally yin-yang (grandma-grandpa) with one half devoted to little glass lemon juicers and whisks and the other half filled with tools and wheelbarrows. The store also has a popular Motorworks Collection where you can view memorabilia of Invercargill's famous son Burt Munro, the "World's Fastest Indian."

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Oreti Beach

The surf at this spot 9.5 km (6 miles) southeast of town is often too rough for swimming, but locals do swim in summer, and surfers and windsurfers take advantage of the wind and swells that whip the coast almost constantly. The annual Burt Munro Challenge in February sees motorcycles hurtle across the sand as riders pit their wits and machines against one another in honor of the local hero and motorcycle land speed record holder from whom the race gets its name. Amenities: none. Best for: solitude; surfing; walking; windsurfing.

Queens Park

These 200 acres in the center of town create a fine layout of public gardens. Included are two rose gardens with both modern and "antique" rose varieties; a Japanese garden complete with meditation area; and an impressive hothouse, which acts as a sanctuary on a wet day. The park has miles of gentle walking paths and waterways, an 18-hole golf course, a fitness trail, and a decent café. There's also a small zoo area and an aviary with a walk-through section that children love. The main entrance is through the stately Feldwick Gates next to the Southland Museum.

Queens Dr. at Gala St., Invercargill, 9810, New Zealand

Water Tower

The tower is an exceptional example of Victorian architecture that can be seen peeking above the city's gentle landscape. Built in 1889 to pressurize the water supply, the structure was recognized by New Zealand's Historic Places Trust as one of the country's most outstanding industrial monuments. This ornate landmark is still completely functional. On Sunday afternoon you can sometimes scale the internal staircase of the 139-foot-tall structure.