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Home to New Zealand’s oldest inhabitant, a speedster who inspired a hit movie, the only discernible regional accent in the country and some of the most delicious seafood available- Invercargill is a small place with a lot that sets it apart.
Located at the end of the South Island, it is New Zealand’s southernmost city and with just over 50,000 residents also one of the smallest.
The locals speak with a discernible ‘brr’ (believed to be a hangover from the early Scottish settler) and are known for their Southland pride and ability to get things done.
One of their most famous sons of innovation is Burt Munro, immortalised in the movie “The World’s Fastest Indian”.
The movie tracks Burt’s journey from tinkering with an Indian Scout motorcycle in his shed to setting world land speed records at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah - a feat he achieved as a 63 year-old grandfather.
Burt’s 1967 speed of 183.56 mph still stands today as the world speed record for under 1000 cc motorbikes with a streamliner.
To get a taste and feel for Invercargill and Southland we recommend:
Southland Museum and Art Gallery – see New Zealand’s oldest resident, Henry, the over 100 year old tuatara, whose ancestors have been around since dinosaur times
Queens Park – 80 hectares of parklands and gardens
Fishing – the Mataura River is a magnet for international anglers with nearby Gore sporting the title of ‘the brown trout capital of the world’
Seafood – you really haven’t tried seafood until you have tasted oysters, blue cod and crayfish from this part of the world. Bluff oyster season creates a flurry up and down the country with enormous sums being paid for that first taste while the Bluff Oyster Festival (usually held in May) is an experience not to be missed
Stewart Island – Invercargill is the main departure point for Stewart Island, home to 400 residents and 20,000 kiwis (the birds) With 240 kilometres of treks it is a walker’s paradise. There is some very fine fishing, beautiful flora and fauna and a great local welcome as well.
Ulva Island – just off Stewart Island this predator-free open island bird sanctuary provides a safe haven for many rare breeds
Prize-winning beer – drop into the Invercargill Brewery for a taste of father and son team, Gerry and Steve Nally’s prize winning brews. The pair’s latest seasonal beer, Salson, won silver at the 2011 Australian International Beer Awards.
Air New Zealand flies between Invercargill and Christchurch and Wellington connecting it with 24 other destinations on the domestic network. For information and to book flights to Invercargill visit www.airnewzealand.com