Invercargill, New Zealand’s most southern city, most have had previous experiences and a bad perception to contend with on a visit. Forty eight hours later and one was left with a very favorable impression. This is a city of churches that are in your face. This is a city of arts, and on your sleeve pride that is also on display. This is a city that is proud of its heritage and this is a city that cares about people.
Southlanders are aware that the tyranny of distance and weather work against Invercargill. But a walk through the Botanic Gardens that are better than ‘first class’ or a visit to the museum and the visitor is mightily impressed. You need a full day just to delight in the floral offering.
Invercargill is one of the few cities that have not succumbed to the large suburban shopping mall and as a result the city retail blocks still all benefit from each other’s proximity; albeit shoppers will need wheels to cover the distances from one chosen store to the next.
Southland, and Invercargill in particular was a scene of early extended contact between Europeans and Maori, in this case sealers and whalers and missionaries - Wohler’s at Rumpke. From 1848, Otago, of which Southland was itself part, was the subject of planned settlement by the Presbyterian missionaries. The settlement broadened with the discovery of gold in Central Otago in the 1860s.
In December 1905, Invercargill voted in local prohibition of alcohol sales. This lasted for 40 years until voted out by returning servicemen in World War II. This time of prohibition explains why there are no classic 30’ vintage hotels that might have survived in the city.
At a minimum allow two days to absorb this great town.