Troopers War Memorial, Invercargill
Troopers War Memorial, Invercargill © Jeremy Pierce

Culture & Heritage

Embark on an extraordinary journey through the fascinating culture and heritage in Murihiku Southland. Step back in time and uncover the vibrant chapters that have shaped our remarkable region.

Over a millennium ago, Māori ancestors first graced these lands, leaving their lasting mark. Then came the spirited adventurers - European sealers, whalers, and traders from across the Tasman Sea - infusing the area with their tales of daring exploration in the 1820s. But it was the glittering discovery of gold in 1861 that truly transformed Southland, drawing fearless settlers from Otago and beyond to create a vibrant blend of communities.

Throughout the region, echoes of history are found in the form of charming historical buildings. However, it is in Invercargill where the past really comes alive, boasting an impressive collection of over 60 registered heritage buildings and awe-inspiring architectural marvels. Wander through corridors of time, and immerse yourself in the stories etched into every nook and cranny.

Uncover the hidden gems of Murihiku Southland, where every brick and stone holds a piece of history begging to be discovered. Get ready to be transported through time and become a part of this extraordinary heritage adventure.

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