Heritage & Culture Tour

Anderson House - Invercargill
Great South

Southland and its capital city, Invercargill hold strong ties to a bygone area which is easily witnessed in the stunning Victorian and Edwardian architecture across the city centre; notably the Civic Theatre & Anderson House. There is a mass of heritage stories woven through the small towns that used to be home to bustling industry and significant settling spots.  There are 8 Heritage Trails in Southland that showcase these landmarks with maps, digital versions are linked below.

The gorgeous Lynwood Homestead was repurposed in to popular Nichols Garden Store & Café in Invercargill.  Not only is this a wonderful place to sit fire side or on the outdoor porch and sip on a range of specialty teas and freshly made coffee but has a great gift store and range of plants to sift through.

Hit the road and head to Eastern Southland to find Hokonui Pioneer Village & Museum, an agricultural and historical display park established in 1977. It was founded by the people of Gore and Eastern Southland to protect the history of the local area. 

Alongside its illicit moonshine making, the region also boasts a range of scenic reserves such Bannerman Park. For garden enthusiasts Eastern Southland features a number of historic gardens like Gore Public Gardens

Hokonui Moonshine at the bar
Great South
Sampling the moonshine at the Hokonui Moonshine Museum in Gore

Croydon Aviation Heritage Centre is also a must do when heading through Gore towards Northern Southland.  The vision of where this small airstrip and hangar chocka full of significant de Havilland aircraft.  What makes this Centre more impressive is that nearly all of these planes can still operate and often are in the air over weekends with open days.  For those who like their feet firmly on the ground, there is a locomotive steam engine on display with restoration work in progress to get this up and running on a track around the airstrip.  You can also nip over to Miss Cocoa’s for a bit of a refuel while you are there.  

There’s no better tourist tale than the time you went off the beaten track and found yourself at an impressive but unknown landmark – the Switzers Museum which is connected to a tall bottle like structure, and yes; it IS made out of bottles, 20,000 of them to be correct. The museum is hard to miss running down the main street of Waikaia and home to many high country farming and gold mining artefacts from which the region is built on.  

Culture and heritage across the region doesn’t stop at museums and attractions, there are a number of beautiful homesteads to stay at where you will be hosted, Naylor House in Garston is restored 1870’s country cottage with the comforts of boutique accommodation or the Victoria Railway Hotel in Invercargill

Te Hikoi Southern Journeys Museum - Riverton
Great South
Visit Te Hikoi Southern Journeys Museum in Riverton

Southland boasts several spectacular heritage buildings and one of Riverton’s gems would most
likely be the restored Victorian Courthouse, which is now part of the Te Hikoi Museum & Information Centre. It’s a place brimming with artefacts, relics, photos and memorabilia teeming with tales of the area’s colourful past.

Heading a bit further west along the coast you will come across a little island named Monkey Island Te Puka o Takitimu. In the late 1860s the township around the island consisted of numerous homes, three stores, a hote land a butcher's shop. Before the road from Riverton was formed, a slipway was built at Monkey Island so that boats could be unloaded, as this was the only way the area got supplies. A "Monkey Winch" was used to haul boats ashore and presumably this is the reason why the island is called Monkey Island.

Nowadays, the island is a pleasant camping and picnic spot surrounded by the beach and lush farmland.The island is accessible at low tide and is renowned for its magnificent sunsets. Nearby is an outstanding original homestead called ‘The Turrets’.

For more information check out the Heritage Trail Maps below.