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Adventure lover’s guide to Invercargill and Stewart Island


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With a reputation as the vintage motoring capital of New Zealand, Invercargill has many other surprising attractions tucked up its deep Southern sleeves. From hunting to fishing and stunning hikes, we’ve rounded up the most epic things to do in Invercargill and Stewart Island.  

 

Find your inner excavator 

Channel your Bob the Builder or digger driver fantasy by visiting Dig This, New Zealand's first heavy equipment playground. It’s an experience that only the rugged folk of Southland could dream up! Choose between bulldozers, excavators, mini excavators and skid steers to push, scrape and lug gravel around a giant pit. Book the Dig and Destroy session to dig holes, move tyres, pick up basketballs off road cones and crush a car, from your mega-digger. Best of all, no experience or heavy-duty licence is required to get behind the levers and power the peddles. This is an experience for big boys and girls, so put this top of your Invercargill to do list. 

 

Discover the wild deep south 

Some of New Zealand’s best hiking, fishing and game hunting sits 15 minutes outside of Invercargill. A short flight over to Stewart Island provides a playground of deep-water fishing or back country hunting. There are 35 restricted hunting blocks on Rakiura/Stewart Island, only accessible with an approved hunting permit. So, apply for a permit to reserve your very own hunting tract for a day.  

On a fishing charter from Half Moon Bay, take in the spectacular surroundings of Foveaux Strait and Stewart Island, as you fish for blue cod and bluenose. Learn how to prepare, set and retrieve cod pots and how to fillet your catch once landed. A huge marine reserve in Paterson Inlet is a diver’s paradise, featuring clear waters, underwater forests of tall kelp and amazing marine life.  

One of the best things to do in Stewart Island, is hike a section of the Rakiura Great Walk by combining a flight, hike and water taxi package. You’ll experience amazing birdlife, stunning beaches and the rugged beauty which you’ll only find on New Zealand’s third largest island.  

 

Marvel over classic motors 

Discover a 50-year restoration journey at Bill Richardson Transport World, one of the top-rated Invercargill attractions. Car lovers will enthuse over 250 vintage vehicles including retro Kombi’s, Henry Ford Model T’s and V8’s, not to mention 150 vintage petrol bowsers. Welcome to the largest private collection in the world of classic cars along with a wearable arts collection, movie theatre and children’s play zones.  

Motorbike enthusiasts will be equally impressed by Classic Motorcycle Mecca, a world-class display of over 300 motorcycles and artworks, with a collection spanning 100 years, including solo, sidecar and three extremely rare New Zealand-made John Britten motorcycles. 

Meanwhile at E Hayes Motorworks, the one and only Bert Munroe is celebrated as the fastest man on two wheels. Kiwi Bert raced a 1920’s Indian Scout against the clock in 1967 to set an unbroken land speed record and was immortalised in the movie "The World's Fastest Indian", starring Anthony Hopkins. Today Bert’s bike is the centrepiece of the extensive vintage Motorworks Collection, proudly displayed alongside power tools, lawnmowers and camping equipment! You read that right as E Hayes is actually a fully-fledged hardware store (formerly owned by a late friend of Berts), rather than a museum, so visitor entry is free!   

Allow a good hour or two at each museum, as there are treasures at every turn. 

After an epic day out, head next door to Louies Cafe & Tapas Bar, one of the best places to eat in Invercargill. Inside the softly lit heritage building, you’ll discover a menu of local flavours and farm to table ingredients, belying the owner’s strong M?ori roots.   

As starters, try the highly rated salt & horopito pepper squid and the finger-licking tamarind ginger glazed chicken followed by a main of roasted lamb rump or freshly caught Stewart Island salmon with orange miso. The moist blue cod with capers, served with a crisp glass of Pinot Gris is a longstanding classic. Skip dessert in favour of an espresso martini, which the locals rave about. 

With so many things to do in Invercargill and great places to eat, ask the Bella Vista team for further recommendations.  Whatever you do, this Southern city of water and light is sure to leave a lasting impression. 

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