Ōreti Lumsden is Northern Southland's main hub and a major junction in Southland, with roads to travellers' destinations departing on all four points of the compass. An hour south is Invercargill, an hour north lies Queenstown; to the southeast, you'll find Gore; the north-west road leads to Te Anau, Manapōuri and Milford Sound. Several quirky cafes and restaurants line the main street, making this town an excellent stopover or a convenient, peaceful holiday destination.
The township, settled in 1862, was known as "The Elbow" because it is situated beside the spot where the Oreti River sharply turns 90°, from east to south - although the name was later changed to compliment the Honourable George Lumsden, a Scottish trader who became a New Zealand politician. Railway was an important aspect of Lumsden's past, and the old railway station is now preserved as a tourist information centre with two Drewry diesel shunters and three wagons on display outside. The Lumsden Heritage Trust also has the New Zealand Railways steam locomotive P60 chassis on display at the town's southern entrance.