Invercargill is the most southerly (and westerly) city in New Zealand. It is the service city for the farms of the Southland plains at the southern end of the South Island. Built in the late 19th and early 20th century, its wide streets and century old buildings give the visitor a unique feeling of stepping back in time to when business was conducted in a more sedate and considered manner and the streets were paved with Otago gold.
Invercargill is named after William Cargill, a prominent pioneer Otago settler.
Invercargill's wide streets bear the names of the rivers of Scotland and Northern England.
The city is the service town for the farmers of Southland's fertile plains.
InterCity Coachlines is New Zealand's national coach company and operates over 150 services to more than 600 destinations nationwide. They operate daily services from Dunedin to Invercargill and Christchurch as well as to Queenstown and other places in the southern lakes district. A low cost bus option is nakedbus with competitive prices.
Catch-a-Bus provides service to Dunedin six times a week. This service will pick you up at your door.
Invercargill is the main focal point of numbered highways in Southland.
Heading south from Dunedin you can follow State Highway 1 to Invercargill, with a travelling time of about two-and-a-half hours. Alternatively you can leave SH 1 at Balclutha and follow the Southern Scenic Route , often called SH 92, through the Catlins. While only a half hour longer to drive, allow a day for this trip at there's heaps of natural attractions to see.
Invercargill is about two-and-a-half hours south of Queenstown via SH 6.
Invercargill Airport is about 3 km from Invercargill's Central Business District. It is served by Air New Zealand with flights from Christchurch and Wellington. A flight from Christchurch to Invercargill takes about an hour in a turboprop aircraft. On a clear day the flight is spectacular, with the Southern Alps to the west of the flight path. If flying south to Invercargill be sure to request a window seat on the right or starboard side of the aircraft (request port or left if flying out to Christchurch.) Mount Cook, which is visible about half way through the flight, is merely the biggest of the many massive peaks of the Southern Alps. A direct flight from Wellington takes around 2 and a half hours.
The inhabitants of Southland, with their Scots ancestry; the nearest New Zealand gets to having different (English) dialects. Many talk with a Southland burr. The rs are rolled in a distinctive manner.
Because of its extreme southerly location, Invercargill's a good place to view the aurora australis or Southern Lights, if you don't fancy an expensive and uncomfortable sojourn on one of the New Zealand Subantarctic Islands. It's not ideally located and travellers should not expect a display every night, but the magnetic pole's offset helps and it's certainly a hell of a lot cheaper than taking a boat into Antarctic waters. However, the city's night skies are not exactly dark, so you might want to take a flight or boat to nearby Stewart Island or just drive out into the surrounding countryside.
Central business district
The central business district main activity is centred on the intersection of Esk and Kelvin streets. However, the overall CBD is bounded by Leven, Tay, Daveron, and Gala streets.
- Esk Street is the main shopping street of Invercargill running from Don Street to a little east of Kelvin Street. The west end of Esk Street is anchored by Wachner Place, while the main pedestrian area ends at about the Invercargill City Council offices midway between Kelvin and Deveron streets.
- Wachner Place is a civic open area that captures the sunshine nicely and has become a place to sit and people watch. It also is the location of the central toilets and features showers which are open to the public to use.
- Bank Corner, the intersection of Tay/The Crescent and Dee/Clyde streets, is located just south of Wachner Place and it features three architecturally wonders from the turn of the 20th Century. These three bank buildings no longer house the banks they were built for but it is worth admiring. In the middle of the roundabout is The Trooper's Memorial which honours those who died during the Boer War in South Africa.
- Southland Fire Service Museum. Located at Jed and Spey streets, houses several fire engines and other fire fighting items. Generally open Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday and the admission is a gold coin.
- Queen’s Park is on the northern edge of the central business district. This large Edwardian styled city park has a lot of amenities including the Southland Museum and Art Gallery, the Observatory, Queen’s Park Golf Club, rose gardens, duck ponds, an excellent children’s playground, a bird aviary, and a zoo housing introduced species to New Zealand. It is quite easy to spend half a day exploring this 81 hectare park.
- Southland Museum and Art Gallery. On Gala Street, where you can see live Tuatara, a reptile that has been around since the time of the dinosaurs.
South of Invercargill
- Tiwai Point Aluminium Smelter. This industrial plant is the reason the Manapouri Power Station was built. There were regular tours of the plant, but tours are currently suspended.
- Bushy Point Homestay. Eco friendly homestay on private reserve. Peaceful and quiet. Predator control in place to ensure good bird numbers. Watch birds without having to drive anywhere.
- 'Tower Lodge Motel'. Suit families or individuals.
- 'Birchwood Manor Motel'. Some rooms have Spas.
- 'Sparky's Backpackers'. A smaller hostels out of the city centre.
Invercargill can be a base to explore southern New Zealand.
- Bluff – a small town about 30 km south of Invercargill, at the bottom of the South Island, and the closest place on the mainland to Antarctica
- Stewart Island is New Zealand's third largest island and is visible from Invercargill and many parts of surrounding Southland. You can either fly from Invercargill Airport or take a ferry from Bluff.
- Visit Fiordland, Milford Sound, Queenstown or the Catlins.
|Routes through Invercargill|
|Gore ← Mataura ←||E S||→ Bluff|
|Queenstown ← Kingston ← Junction ←||N S||→ END|