Invercargill, New Zealand’s southernmost city and capital of Southland, is an elegant city with plenty to keep you busy.
Picturesque, wide streets, lined with gorgeous Edwardian, Victorian and Art Deco architecture. Generous parklands. Art galleries, museums and fresh oysters.
One of the most important parks in New Zealand, is a sprawling oasis of lawns, gardens and walks, in the heart of Invercargill. The park was included in the original design for Invercargill, with 81 hectares set aside, all of which remains today. With a variety of gardens to explore (native NZ, Japanese, even sub-Antarctic) plus playgrounds, sculptures, ponds and fitness stations, there really is something for everyone to enjoy.
Invercargill: A walker’s paradise
Invercargill City Council has a great brochure detailing almost 30 short walks around the city’s, parks, foreshores, bushland and beaches, including the Ocean Beach Track, which follows the coast through private farmland. During winter, fur seals and southern right whales can often be spotted. Take an hour out to stroll along the elevated Invercargill Estuary Walkway, through Pleasure Bay Lagoon (4.7km), and enjoy the expansive and tranquil views across the estuary.
Museums devoted to all things wheels abound, thanks to local hero, Burt Munro, who chased and broke land-speed records on his personally-modified Indian motorcycles. Check out the displays at E. Hayes Motorworks, and the impressive collections at Tranport World, with vintage cars, trucks and motorcycles on exhibition.
Invercargill: An amazing destination for a driving holiday
The half-day Invercargill Heritage Trail takes in some of the city’s main sights, including the famous Victorian Water Tower – a building that turns the most of a functional structure into a striking feature. The tour takes in parks and gardens, and some of the excellent architecture of the town.
Or, join a 4×4 tour into the South Island high country with NZ Adventures and get off the beaten track, into the mountains with their alpine lakes, stunning vistas and changing landscapes. For those with the need for speed, Club GT offers drivers (over 25 years old) the chance to slide behind the wheel of an Aston Martin V8 Vantage for a half- or full-hour of luxurious, high-octane touring.
The Magnificent Stewart Island
A pretty scenic flight or ferry trip across the Foveaux Strait from Invercargill, Stewart Island is a great place to glimpse the Southern Lights/Aurora Australis, the curtains of pink, red and green light that trace through the sky as a result of the earth’s magnetic field. Around 85% of the island is national park, so there is very little light pollution, making Stewart Island an ideal place to stargaze. In fact, it’s on its way to becoming an official ‘dark sky’ zone.
The Comfort Inn Tayesta is a great place to base yourself in Invercargill. Only 20 minutes from the Stewart Island ferry terminal, this compact hotel offers guests a selection of one and two bedroom units, with a lounge/dining room, so there’s plenty of room to spread out and relax. Each unit is also equipped with a full kitchen or kitchenette, making it a great option for those wanting to self-cater. If not, it’s only a short, flat stroll into the bars, restaurants and cafes of Invercargill.