Ready to make the most of the cooler months this year? A cosy winter’s break in Invercargill, New Zealand’s most southernmost city, might be just what you’re looking for. Steeped in Scottish heritage, with grand Victorian, Edwardian and Art Deco architecture, Invercargill has a charming old-world feel that comes to life in winter. This beautiful destination is also fondly known as the ‘City of Water and Light’ due to the spectacular wintertime Aurora Australis night-sky light show and its setting on the Waihopai River estuary.
Breathtaking Aurora Australis
For those wondering whether you can see the Aurora Australis from New Zealand, Invercargill is the perfect place to see our version of the Northern Lights. The spectacular pink and green light show that is the Aurora Australis, or the Southern Lights, is a wintertime must do in Invercargill. Renowned for clear skies, starry nights and almost no light pollution, Invercargill and nearby Stewart Island are among the best cities in the world to witness the magical effect of solar winds reacting with the Earth’s atmosphere. The best time of year to view this phenomenal light show is during the winter months between March to September.
Seasonal food and wine
Winter is also the perfect time to enliven the senses with delicious local fare, such as the world-renowned Bluff Oysters and New Zealand Blue Cod, as well as the region’s famous Southland Cheese Roll. The nearby seaside village of Bluff is home to the Bluff Oyster and Food Festival, an annual winter event that draws seafood lovers from around the country. Sample local delicacies washed down with great southern ales and a selection of New Zealand wines.
Warm yourself by the fire or settle into a cosy booth at Louies Restaurant & Bar, a local institution, and feast on rustic seasonal dishes. Another popular local favourite, The Batch Cafe is an excellent spot for breakfast and coffee, and if you’re in the mood for something sweet, head straight to the award-winning Seriously Good Chocolate Company for their handmade boutique chocolates and decadent chocolate bombs.
When is the Bluff Oyster Festival?
The Bluff Oyster Festival is announced via Bluff Oyster Fest each year.
Other things to do
Explore Invercargill’s grand collection of historic architecture on the Invercargill Heritage Trail, which takes in 18 sites of interest including the Invercargill Water Tower, City Hall and the Railway Hotel built in the late 1800s, as well as the city’s many open spaces. Stroll the tree-lined boulevards of Queens Park, an expansive 80 hectares of beautifully kept gardens, wildlife habitats and playgrounds. There’s also an impressive bird aviary, farmyard area and animal enclosures.
One of Invercargill’s most popular attractions, Bill Richardson Transport World, is home to over 300 restored cars and trucks from classic Henry Ford Letter Cars and vintage V8s to a fire-engine red 1940 Texaco Tanker. Motorcycle fans should head to the Classic Motorcycle Mecca with its equally impressive collection of classic motorbikes dating back to 1902.
Invercargill is also a great base for exploring the surrounding Southland region. Take a day-trip to nearby subantarctic Stewart Island, New Zealand’s third largest island and renowned for its magnificent Rakiura National Park, hiking and birdwatching. There are flights from Invercargill to the island and a ferry service runs from Bluff. You can see more stunning scenery and waterfalls on the epic Southern Scenic Route.
How far from Queenstown is Invercargill?
For those wondering how long to drive from Queenstown to Invercargill, the drive is just shy of 2 hours and 15 minutes, or 7 hours from Christchurch. You can fly into Queenstown International Airport from Auckland, Christchurch or Wellington as well as most Australian capital cities. Buses also run between Queenstown, Christchurch and Invercargill.
Where to stay in Invercargill
For relaxing and spacious Invercargill accommodation, the Comfort Inn Tayesta is ideally located a three-minute drive from the Invercargill CBD. The Comfort Inn Tayesta offers a selection of quiet and warm studio, one and two bedroom units, along with free parking and Wi-Fi.