History and culture in interesting Invercargill!

Discover Invercargill's grand historic buildings, fascinating heritage centres and immersive art galleries.

You can hear some of Invercargill's history in the rolled Rs of Southland voices, an echo of the Scottish immigrant accents from times past. And you can't help but notice the city's brilliant collection of grand Victorian, Edwardian and Art Deco architecture. There are multiple museums too, as well as art galleries that showcase the past and present of Invercargill creativity.

Find your favourite Invercargill art gallery

Invercargill's love of art oozes out at every opportunity. There are galleries galore in the city and outlying towns, like Gore, Otautau, Bluff and Papatowai.

A great place to start your art appreciation tour of Southland is the Invercargill Public Art Gallery, formerly known as Anderson Park Art Gallery. Here you'll find an impressive collection of works from early European paintings through to challenging contemporary art. Another excellent public art gallery is the Eastern Southland Gallery in Gore. Nicknamed the 'Goreggenheim', it displays the internationally renowned John Money Collection, as well as works by major New Zealand contemporary artist Ralph Hotere.

To pay homage to the amazing Burt Munro, visit E Hayes and Sons to see the genuine World's Fastest Indian - the motorcycle that Burt used to gain his world record.

To see the work of Invercargill artists, there are numerous smaller galleries - often in historic or unusual buildings. Check out the Chiaroni Gallery, in the Art Nouveau Public Trust Building; Otautau Gallery, in an old Methodist church; and the Lighthouse Gallery in Bluff, in a classic Art Deco corner building.

See the world's fastest Indian

Apart from Mayor Tim Shadbolt, an outspoken character who has earned his place in Kiwiana culture, Invercargill's most famous person is probably Burt Munro. On his modified Indian Scout, he set an under-1000 cc world record at Bonneville on 26 August 1967. The movie 'The World's Fastest Indian', which tells Burt's amazing story, starred Anthony Hopkins.

There are two ways to pay homage to the marvellous Burt Munro. You can visit E Hayes and Sons, a hardware and engineering supply shop that includes a large collection of vintage motorcycles, vehicles, machines and memorabilia. Pride of place is the genuine World's Fastest Indian, the motorcycle that Burt used to gain his world record. Another way to appreciate Burt is to attend the Indian Motorcycle NZ Beach Racing champs on Oreti Beach. It's an awesome motorcycle racing event, held on the very same beach that Burt used for his Invercargill practice runs before heading to Bonneville. Burt Munro died in 1978 and is buried at Invercargill's Eastern Cemetery.

Follow the Invercargill Heritage Trail

Pack some comfortable shoes, because Invercargill is a great place for walking. The city is absolutely flat, so strolling around the heritage buildings and places of interest certainly won't wear you out.

The Invercargill Heritage Trail captures heritage sites and beautiful open spaces. You'll discover a city that's wonderfully well-planned. Its streets follow a grid pattern specified by New Zealand's first Surveyor General in 1876. Pick up a trail brochure from the local visitor information centre, then set off to discover the magnificent 1906 Civic Theatre, the soaring 1888 Invercargill Water Tower, exquisite 1896 Railway Hotel and Bank Corner, memorable for the Troopers' Memorial.

From a park point of view, the heritage trail leads you to Queens Park, 80 hectares of outdoor gorgeousness; Anderson Park; with both native forest and formal gardens; and pretty Otepuni Gardens, with its elegant band rotunda.

Southland is dotted with heritage trails and museums that let you discover the region's history. Check out prehistoric phenomena at Tumu Toka Curioscape, local Māori stories at Te Hikoi, early industrial heritage at Transport World and colonisation stories at Switzers.

Enjoy amazing machines

An 'only in Invercargill' attraction that's full of Instagram material is Classic Motorcycle Mecca, a motorcycle museum in Tay Street. If you admire two-wheeled transport, you will drool over this collection of motorcycles. It covers the A to Z - from AJS and Ariel to Schwinn and Zundapp.

If you prefer transport on four wheels, Bill Richardson Transport World will soon have you oohing and ahhing over an exceptional collection of cars. There are hundreds of vehicles here, including absolute classics like Model T Fords and retro VW Kombis.

For something completely different, check out Dig This in Otepuni Avenue, New Zealand's first heavy equipment playground. The earth will move, quite literally, as you take the big machines through their paces.

There's a quirky side to Invercargill's character, instantly obvious when you visit Demolition World in Bain Street, a destination constructed entirely from demolished buildings and recycled things. A special treat here is the chance to interact with chickens and alpacas.

Keep exploring Invercargill & Southland