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Invercargill, A Small City With A Big Personality

Catlins 2
Stewart Island

Invercargill, A Small City With A Big Personality

story by: House of Travel

When it comes to cities in New Zealand, the big three of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch tend to get much of the plaudits. Invercargill, on the other hand, tends to fly somewhat under the radar. It's the capital of the Southland region and New Zealand's southernmost and smallest (with a population of just 50,000) city.

Should you visit Invercargill, you'll quickly realise that flying under the radar suits it just fine. With tonnes to do and extremely welcoming locals, it can be just as action packed and fun filled as a stay in one of the more prominent cities, but smaller tourist numbers and a chilled out atmosphere make for a more relaxing getaway.

The Sights of the City
From Victorian and Edwardian architecture to beautiful gardens and parks to great dining options, a few days spent exploring the streets of Invercargill is the ideal way to slow down the pace of an adventure on the South Island.

Queens Park is an 81hectare escape right in the middle of the city. Wander through the gorgeous rose gardens before getting a closer look at the animals in the park's animal reserve. Kids will love getting an up close look at rabbits, guinea pigs, guinea fowl, wallaby, alpaca, ostrich and many more.

Queens Park is also home to the Southland Museum and Art Gallery. An exhibition on the sub-Antarctic Islands offers a unique insight into the rugged and remote islands lying south of Stewart Island. The real highlight of the museum, however, is the tuatara enclosure. This fascinating reptile is the only living relic of the dinosaur age and seeing one up close is the highlight of many people's Invercargill trip.

To the north of the city is Anderson Park, a 24 hectare estate which contains extensive gardens, alongside the Anderson Park Art Gallery. The building is a stunning example of Neo Georgian architecture and houses Southland's largest collection of visual arts. It's a must for any art lover.

When you've had enough of exploring the city's charms, pop into one of the many great restaurants and tuck into some blue cod or oysters, two of Invercargill's best loved delicacies.

Exploring Southland
Invercargill is perfectly located as the launchpad from which to enjoy the wonderful activities and attractions Southland has to offer. It's located in the middle of the Southern Scenic Route, which links Dunedin to Te Anau via Invercargill and is the best way to take in the natural beauty of the area.

The rugged coast and deserted beaches of the Catlins are just under two hours from Invercargill and offer a wild, remote and tranquil nature escape. Sea lions, penguins and dolphins are common in the area, so keep your eyes peeled as you take in the scenery.

Meanwhile, the Purakaunui Falls, situated between Invercargill and the Catlins, are both beautiful and breathtaking. The water cascades over three levels and various walking routes in the area offer a chance to stretch your legs.

Take a 25 minute drive south from Invercargill to Bluff, the southernmost town in New Zealand and also the country's oldest European town. Bluff is known for having the best oysters in all of New Zealand, while the Maritime Museum and walkways on Bluff Hill are a great way to get to know the area.

From Bluff, continue further south again, this time aboard a ferry, to Stewart Island. The island's 1570 square kilometres offer a tranquil getaway. From sandy beaches with crystal clear waters to lush rainforests with diverse natural wildlife, if it's unspoiled beauty you're seeking, you've come to the right place. Spend your time hiking, fishing, sailing, kayaking, diving or just relaxing, the only rules on Stewart Island are that you enjoy yourself.

Pack all that into your trip to Invercargill and it might just inspire you to see what else is lurking under the radar in the Land of the Long White Cloud.

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