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Cheap Car Hire Invercargill Airport
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A rental car gives you the freedom and flexibility to make the most of your time exploring Invercargill and surrounding areas. Here are a few of the many attractions around Southland you might like to consider checking out. The letters on the map match those on the tabs below, where you'll find information about each attraction. For more ideas, check out the Invercargill Tourism website.
Southland Museum and Art Gallery
You can’t miss the Southland Museum and Art Gallery - its large white pyramid shaped building stands out against the backdrop of stately Queens Park in the heart of Invercargill. The museum is close to the Feldwick Gates.
The museum’s mandate is around preserving the artistic and historic heritage of the Southland area. There is a surprisingly broad array of activities and displays at Southland Museum. An eclectic variety of exhibitions cover topics from the sub Antarctic islands (complete with a rollicking boat), the Victorian era, and artifacts from natural history and fossils. There are collections from both well known and up and coming local artists.
A highlight of the Southland Museum is the Maori gallery, which offers an insight into what New Zealand life looked like before the arrival of early European settlers. Another unique offering at the museum is an extensive exhibit devoted to local man Burt Munro (the subject of the film The World’s Fastest Indian, starring Anthony Hopkins). Munro’s motorbike, modified at home in his garage, propelled him into the record books and is a tribute to the Kiwi DIY spirit and the quest for speed.
And while you’re touring the Southland Museum, be sure to take time to check out the Tuatarium, where you can see native tuatara and learn about the captive breeding programme. These ancient reptiles are relics back from the age of dinosaurs and are a marvel up close - a living fossil. They are a key attraction here, being closely associated with Southland; they can only be found on a select few small islands off the mainland. After hours, you can peek at the tuatara through the windows at the back of the pyramid.
Just 10 km west of central Invercargill, Oreti Beach is easily reached in your rental car. It’s one of three bays on the Foveaux Strait coastal stretch, between Toetoes and Te Waewae bays.
When you first set eyes upon this 26 km stretch of smooth sand you’ll see why this was Burt Munro’s preferred test ground and racing track. This is where the Southland man practised riding on his Indian motorbike, which then went on to break world records for land speed at the Bonneville salt flats in Utah, in the USA. No surprises, then, that Oreti Beach was a key filming location for the movie about Munro’s life, The World’s Fastest Indian.
Head toward the southern end of Oreti Beach and you will come across Sandy Point. There was once a whaling station here, set up in the 1800s, although it was short lived, and a Maori settlement by the name of Oue.
This natural reserve is ideal for exploring on foot, mountain bike, or even horseback. There are more than a dozen welcoming biking tracks, and 13 km worth of various walking trails, all well signposted. Sand dunes co exist with forests of matai, totara, rimu and miro. Along with the marshes and mudflats and the banks of the Oreti river, conditions are perfect for masses of plant and animal life alike.
Bring your surf board along too because there are several good spots to get out among the waves. While the breaks are good the ocean can be cold so be prepared!
Head out to Stirling Point, the southernmost point on the mainland, and snap a picture at its iconic sign post. The much photographed sign post is one of New Zealand’s most well known landmarks; it displays the distance to major cities in the world such as Tokyo, Sydney and New York (as well as more esoteric destinations like the South Pole and equator!).
From Stirling Point you can embark on a scenic walk. The two hour Foveaux Walk guides you around the southern coast line, towards Lookout Point for great views out over Foveaux Strait. The one hour Topuni Track leads from Stirling Point to Bluff Hill, past a historic WWII gun emplacement. This also meets up with the Glory Track, which in turns leads to the Foveaux Walkway. From Lookout Point, there’s the Millennium Track that goes to Bluff Hill, as well as the Ocean Beach Track that leads to its namesake.
These trails span a variety of scrub, private farmland and native bush (complete with lots of native birdlife). A trip to the top of Bluff Hill is a must for panoramic views over the peninsula, beaches and rocky coastline, Foveaux Strait and out to Stewart Island/Rakiura. Driving to the summit of Bluff Hill is also an option.
Stirling Point is located in Bluff - just half an hour from Invercargill in your rental car. It is at the far southern end of State Highway 1, which runs the full length of New Zealand up to Cape Reinga in the north. Stirling Point was originally named after Captain William Stirling, who established a nearby whaling station in the early 19th century.
The Catlins coast lies along the south eastern corner of the South Island (about an hour and a half from Invercargill in your rental car). This untouched and remote part of the country is well worth visiting - there’s so much waiting to be discovered.
The landscapes of the Catlins are rife with rugged rocky coastline, sweeping sandy beaches and lush green hills; waterfalls, estuaries and valleys.
At Nugget Point you’ll find a lighthouse dating back to the 1800s, overlooking scattered rocks that resemble nuggets of gold. There’s a fur seal colony that you can look down to, and during the summer months, elephant seals have been known to stop over in this area. Also look out for Hector’s dolphins, Hooker’s sea lions, and three different species of penguin.
Curio Bay conceals an ancient fossilised forest, dating back over 100 million years to the Jurassic period when New Zealand was still part of Gondwanaland. Visit at low tide, when the forest is best seen from the viewing platform. Yellow eyed penguins come ashore here in the later afternoon, and at nearby Porpoise Bay dolphins are a common sight in the summer.
The impressive Purakaunui Falls cascade prettily over 3 levels and a depth of 20 metres. Set within beech and podocarp forest, it’s a great spot for photography. There are viewing platforms at both the top and the bottom of the falls.
There’s Jack’s Blowhole, a magnificent sight: 55 metres deep and 200 metres inland. This cavity was formed when the roof of a giant subterranean cave collapsed. Now, when the tide is in, waves gush through the tunnel and erupt up out of the blowhole, with a roaring sound and explosive appearance. From this area you’ll also enjoy spectacular views over the coast, all the way down to Penguin Bay and beyond.
One of the best known attractions in all of the Catlins are the majestic Cathedral Caves. Named for their resemblance to old European style churches, they tower more than 30 metres overhead. Test out your whistling skills or singing voice as the resounding acoustics here are really quite remarkable. The Cathedral Caves are only accessible at low tide and there is a small entrance fee because access is via private land.
Queens Park is a lovely reserve in the heart of Invercargill, a public treasure that spans an enormous 81 hectares. You could easily spend a day exploring all it has to offer - just park up your rental car and pick an entrance to start from.
Within Queens Park you will find stately rose gardens stretching from Gala St into the heart of the park. A dazzling variety of rose blooms can be found here. There is plenty more to admire amid the tree lined walkways; visitors will appreciate features like the rhododendron dell, azalea garden, winter garden, and herb garden. An array of native plants grow here, as well as cacti and tropical flowers. There is an authentic Japanese garden, rock garden and ponds. The woodlands are being revitalised with fresh sculptures and gardens.
There’s plenty to please sports lovers in Queens Park. There’s the 18 hole golf course, set among leafy trees. The Southland Cricket Club plays here. There are tennis courts, as well as a croquet club and a bowling club. A 4 km fitness trail winds throughout the park, with exercise stations dotted along the way.
Queens Park was once a grazing block and today, it contains an animal reserve. From little fowl, rabbits and guinea pigs through to more exotic creatures like ostriches and wallabies, there’s plenty to see here in this enclosure. There is even an aviary - New Zealand is home to so many rare and unique birds, some rarely seen in captivity, and many of which can be found here.
On top of that, Queens Park also contains cafes, and plenty of recreational areas with children’s playgrounds.
Great value - thanks! Definitely will recommend you to my friends.
Jack Webber (Australia)
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Excellent value, We got what you promised. No hidden costs like the rip off we had in Cairns!
Mike Smith (UK)
Great for backpackers like us on a tight budget. Got to do more of the amazing things NZ offers with the money we saved. Awesome!
Sue White (UK)