The history of Southland/Murihiku is rich and varied and each part of the region has their own unique past.
Maori first occupied the region about a thousand years ago, followed by European sealers, whalers and traders from Australia from the 1820’s. After the discovery of gold in 1861, settlers from Otago and elsewhere in New Zealand largely colonised Southland. Thanks to this rich history the story of Southland by combining the majestic physical environment, the people, and the culture is told throughout. You will find historical buildings located throughout the region but Invercargill, in particular, has over 60 registered heritage buildings and architectural features.
Aside from multiple museums which tell the stories of the province's history and those who lived there, Southland is also home to eight heritage trails, which navigate and tell the story of Southland, combining the physical environment, people, culture and the rich history.
Inspiring stories and collections can be found throughout the region:
- Visit Te Hikoi “Southern Journey” Heritage Museum in Riverton.
- Explore Southland’s rich history through the region’s 8 Heritage Trails.
- Come aboard the nautical history at Bluff Central or the Bluff Maritime Museum.
- Learn about the illicit whiskey making past at the Hokonui Moonshine Museum.
- Boutique museums for wood milling, fire engines, aviation, trucks, tractors, flax milling, communications, and goldmining.
- Characterful regional museums telling the locals story, in small towns like Waikaia, Mataura, Waikawa, Otautau and Wyndham.
The region also has a rich arts industry and is fortunate to have many museums and art galleries that house collections from both local and international artists throughout Southland. Visitors to the region will also be spoilt for choice when it comes to performing arts, concerts and arts festivals as well. The events calendar is packed with these types of performances which are often found in populations much bigger than Southland.
Immerse yourself in the region’s culture and take time to visit:
- The stunning galleries throughout the regions: highlights include Invercargill City Art Gallery, Winton Art Gallery, Eastern Southland Art Gallery.
- Take in variety of outdoor art – keep an eye out for the brown trout, the umbrella, the whale tail, the giant paua to name a few.
- Call into a local artist’s studio dotted around Southland.
Check out the wonderful array of events held throughout the year, like Shakespeare, Matariki, Pacifica and Buskers here.