There is only one Invercargill. Literally. Only one in the world in name, and also in nature. With heritage steeped in harvesting bounties from the land and sea, this is hard working country. The people labour so much it affects their accent (with a number of rrr’s). Invercargill, also known by Maori as Waihopai has for a long time been a trading post, traditionally of whale, gold and timber, to agriculture and more recently to technology and innovation. Notably is the home to instant coffee, and sheep milk!

The city lies at the base of the lower south of New Zealand, and suggests of times gone past. There is definitely traffic, but no jams, the streets wide from its history as a trading post. Today the city boasts its own cuisine style, a fusion of tradition with quirky local produce. Wine and chocolate are combined for Pinot Noir chocolates, and cheese is rolled up in bread to a surprisingly more sophisticated experience than one would expect. One of the most famous tasters is the Bluff Oyster, ranked as one of the best in the world, which comes from the cool waters of Foveaux Straight.

The past haunts the city with grand architecture, and is celebrated by large collections of historic cars, trucks and motorcycles at three different motoring museums. But don’t be fooled, this isn’t just for motoring fanatics, these are more art galleries that garages, with a wide palette of colour schemes, engineering marvels and locals stories. Local legend Burt Munro is burned into the local community, after setting world records for land speed, based on a machine built in his shed. He, like the current population frequented Oreti Beach, a nature highway for all manners of recreation. Wilderness isn’t far away from Invercargill with nature walks and wild species, but for the more sedate Queens Park is a meandering heaven.

For all its cues from the past, the city is also in revolution. The local polytechnic has grown and diversified the city, bringing a melting pot of cultures. The weekly farmers markets gives tastes and trinkets from around the region (and the world). And the kiwi addiction for caffeine is rife in the city, with small cafes offering any number of chic offerings, perfect precursors to a city wander. Modern street art intermingles with sign writing from times past, and small local retailers portray unique offerings. The people are so friendly, and you might assume you have met them before, but no, it’s just their way.

Located in the middle of the Southern Scenic Route, the circuit travelling from Dunedin through to Queenstown, this is real taste for New Zealand. The pace of life seems virtually sedentary versus big cities, and people just seem content in their relaxed way. You will find this throughout, whether on carved Catlin’s coastlines, the western wilderness of Fiordland or the pastures of the north. There’s no rush, and there is only one Invercargill. 

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