Many visitors pass straight through INVERCARGILL, regarding it as little more than a waystation en route to Stewart Island or the Catlins Coast. But the city warrants a little more time. Settled in the mid-1850s, it sprawls over an exposed stretch of flat land at the head of the New River Estuary. In 2000, community contributions allowed its main centre of learning, the Southern Institute of Technology (SIT), to offer free tuition for New Zealand and Australian residents (with lower than usual fees for international students) on all of its courses. As a result, Invercargill’s population swelled to 50,000, and its arts scene and nightlife gained new life. More recently, the discovery of a possible oil source nearby has led to some new investment in the town, and the prospect of more to come.

To the south, at the tip of a small peninsula, lies Bluff, the departure point for ferries to Stewart Island.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

New Zealand features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

The most beautiful country in the world – as voted by you

The most beautiful country in the world – as voted by you

There's nothing like an amazing view to inspire you to book your next trip, whether you're drawn by rolling countryside, isolated islands or soaring mountain …

30 Aug 2017 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
24 breaks for bookworms

24 breaks for bookworms

1. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas In 1971, fuelled by a cornucopia of drugs, Hunter S. Thompson set off for Las Vegas on his “savage journey to the heart of …

02 Mar 2017 • Eleanor Aldridge camera_alt Gallery
How to find the right New Zealand for you

How to find the right New Zealand for you

While it may not loom large on the world map, New Zealand feels incredibly vast and imposing on the ground, especially to those who try to visit the North and S…

23 May 2016 • Eric Grossman insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month