Troopers War Memorial, Invercargill
Jeremy Pierce


The history of Southland Murihiku is rich and varied, and each part of the region has their own unique past.

Māori first occupied the region about a thousand years ago, followed by European sealers, whalers and traders from Australia in the 1820s. After the discovery of gold in 1861, settlers from Otago and elsewhere in New Zealand largely colonised Southland. 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 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 whisky-making past at the Hokonui Moonshine Museum.
  • Boutique museums for wood milling, fire engines, aviation, trucks, tractors, flax milling, communications, and gold mining.
  • Characterful regional museums tell the local's 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 region: highlights include Eastern Southland Art Gallery and Winton Art Gallery.
  • Take in a variety of outdoor art – keep an eye out for street art, the brown trout, the umbrella, the whale tail, and 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.

Explore Our Heritage