Invercargill: All the Way Down
Invercargill is New Zealand's southernmost city. Since we were already fairly far south, we decided to continue all the way down. The city is nearly completely flat and has some of the longest daylight hours in the summer. However, what we'll remember most is the true southern hospitality. The city, deemed the capitol of Southland, is a gateway to so much more to explore, notably Stewart Island. We stayed along the coast, and spent one day exploring the Waituna Lagoon.
We walked the boardwalk loop track through the wetlands. Waituna is a Ramsar site, thus internationally recognized for it's vast birdlife. Although lauded for it's environmental preservation, throughout the three hour trek we never came across another soul.
As we walked through the humid bog with low-growing manuka and thick shrubs, there were also openings with tranquil bodies of water.
At the end of the winding track, there was a nice lookout of the Waituna Lagoon.
Less than a half and hour drive south, you can reach Bluff, Invercargill's busy port. It's one of the oldest European settlements in New Zealand, also known for their history of oysters.
We went down to Stirling Point, marking the southern end of State Highway 1, stretching the length of New Zealand.
There was a wonderful walking track along the coast.
While looking out, it was wild to imagine that the next large land mass is Antartica.
I felt like we were really out there.The coastline was stunning.
Naturally, one Sunday it absolutely poured. While wandering around the downtown, we followed a distant buzz of music. It was coming from Invercargill Brewery, located in an old warehouse. It a little before 1 p.m. Apparently on Sunday afternoons they host a jam session, in which anyone musically inclined can go up to the mic.
I loved the concept. As the rain came down even harder, it was an easy choice to stay. The beers are brewed on site by blending old-world beer styles with local ingredients.
The vibe was awesome. We sat on vintage living room furniture and played a heated game of Jenga.
We then migrated to the ping pong table, which entertained us for hours.
We deeply enjoyed our time in Invercargill and I have nothing but the warmest feelins about the city. And that's largely due to the people. We stayed with the kindest young couple in an Airbnb with their eight month daughter and two pups. We felt so comfortable with them, and it was a fascinating window through a local perspective. While she stayed with the baby, he worked as a crane operator for a company that loaded timber onto ships in Bluff. He explained how timber is a massive export in New Zealand due to the fast growth and rotation of trees. It was a fascinating peak into how others live, by choice but also by extenuating circumstance. We're finding that it's not the picturesque mountains and sunsets we'll remember, but rather the people who deeply impacted us.