Invercargill is Southlands only city and is home to around 55,200 people. It is mostly flat and stretches out alongside the Waihopai River estuary. It’s only a short 2 hour drive from Te Anau so whether you make it a day trip, drive through or have it as your destination there are a few places to you must visit. Invercargill is a city that still has many beautiful buildings still standing from the late 1800’s. Anyone with an eye for old architecture will be in their element.
One of these buildings include its 300,000-brick water tower that stands just outside the city center. The tower was built in 1889 and stands 42.6m high. It was originally built to help supply pressurized water to any fires that may be burning in the city. Locals weren’t impressed with the idea of having a giant steel tank planted in the middle of their city, so it was placed close by with some snazzy brick work to make it more attractive to Invercargill residents. It took 1 year to build and still serves as the city’s water tower today.
Transport World is a must do. In November 2015 the Bill Richardson Transport World opened in Invercargill. Bill Richardson was a truck and transport enthusiast his whole life and begun collecting old trucks in 1967. By the time he passed away he had a whopping 150 vehicles. Bill’s family were kind enough to open his collection to the public and has now become a very popular stopover for not only truck buffs but anyone wanting an afternoon out as it also has a construction zone for children, a library with a focus on transport and manuals, an events and conference center and a café/restaurant with amazing food! Those of you interested in classic vehicles, Transport World has an impressive display of rare and unusual automobiles including a truck that is believed to be the only one of its kind. There are a few interactive exhibitions that make it fun for kids and adults alike.
Classic Motorcycle Mecca is a collection only started in 2008 but by 2014 the amount of motorcycles had grown to 300 with an impressive collection of motorcycle art. They were eventually bought by Transport world and as a result, the Classic Motorcycle Mecca opened Invercargill in 2016. Some motorcycles are dated right back to 1902 and have some amazing history, others are more modern and tell the story of the evolution of motorcycles around the world. The artwork is incredible, and some pieces are believed to be worth as much as some of the bikes! Cafe Meccaspresso is also on site so once you’ve worked up and appetite walking around the exhibitions you can sit down to a delicious meal in a fascinating surrounding.
Dig This is a big kids dream! If you have ever wanted to operate heavy machinery, then this is your playground. Whether you’ve got your eye on a bulldozer, digger or skid steer, this is the place to be. An instructor will give you the down low on how to operate the machine of your choice and from here you are invited to take part in a number of challenges to test your skills. They also have several mini diggers for anyone keen to go along and give it a go. If you are part of a group wanting to go along and challenge each other with these giant pieces of machinery, it pays to call ahead and make a booking. Of course, there is coffee onsite so you can sit back and watch everyone else have a go once you’ve had a whirl.
Invercargill also has a beautifully maintained park called Queens Park. The park is 200 acres and is home to an 18-hole golf course, botanical gardens, an aviary and sports grounds. On a nice day I like to grab some lunch to go and head down for a picnic on its well-manicured lawns. If you are looking for a spot to relax, Invercargill has a number of hidden gems. Just go for a drive in and around the city and it may just surprise you!Back to Local Insights Page