The History Buff

Do you want to travel back in time? Learn about Southland’s history on this trail.

Day One

Start at The Lignite Pit & Secret Garden Café

Approximately 20km east of Invercargill, this café, camping & garden combo is one of the best kept secrets of the South. Hidden from the view of the George road, is a landscape which has been transformed from a disused mine to a tranquil garden. In the gardens there are a number of paths which wind themselves around the lake and explore the native flora, fauna and aviaries dotted around the place. 

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Drive 1 hour to Tumu Toka Curioscape

Tumu Toka Curioscape is a world-class interpretive centre intended to educate and share the special stories of Curio Bay; its wildlife, its people, and its history. Curioscape’s Gateway Experience presents interactive touch screens, allowing you to tailor your own individual experience – plus an immersive theatre that is a must-see.

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Drive 10 minutes to Waikawa Museum & Information Centre (30min-1hr)

Home to interesting information about local history and historic artefacts from the deep South. This museum is the perfect place to learn about early agriculture, shipping disasters, goldmining and sawmilling. 

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Drive 1 hour 20 minutes to The Headmasters School House

Finish off your history education with a stay at The Headmasters School House. Freshly renovated with vintage elements. You can’t miss the opportunity to spend time here with beautiful views, a spa pool and 2 pet alpacas.

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DAY Two

Start at The Headmasters School House, and drive 1 hour 50 minutes to He Waka Tuia

Southland’s together space, the collaboration between the Invercargill Public Art Gallery and the Southland Museum and Art Gallery. The museum has an exciting programme of events, changing exhibitions and touring art that are delivered in innovative and experimental ways.

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Drive 5 minutes to Bill Richardson Transport World

Bill Richardson poured decades of care into restoring classic trucks, and he loved showing people around his collection as it grew. Bill Richardson Transport World has grown into a family legacy celebrating a love of everything wheels. Bill’s family have infused his own astounding collection with automotive loves of their own, to create a truly world-class experience.

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Drive 5 minutes to Classic Motorcycle Mecca

Discover the largest and most diverse display of classic motorcycles in New Zealand, with more than 300 motorbikes that hail as far back as 1902.

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Drive 1 minute to Victoria Railway Hotel

The Victoria Railway Hotel of Invercargill offers modern, stylish and comfortable hotel accommodation with a touch of old world charm. The hotel is an Invercargill icon, situated in the heart of the city with a New Zealand Historic Places Trust Category 1 Registration.

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Day THREE

Start at the Victoria Railway Hotel and drive 50 minutes to Eastern Southland Gallery

Nicknamed the ‘Goreggenheim’ by Saatchi & Saatchi boss Kevin Roberts, the Eastern Southland Gallery features the internationally renowned John Money Collection as well as the largest holdings of works by major New Zealand contemporary artist Ralph Hotere.

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Drive 15 minutes to Croydon Aviation Heritage Centre

Tucked away at Mandeville in rural Southland is one of New Zealand’s gems. Here the golden age of flight can be relived in the nationally significant museum; dedicated to preserving and celebrating New Zealand’s civil aviation heritage, both the stories of pioneer aviators and their equally colourful machines.

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Drive 30 minutes to Switzers Museum

Waikaia owes much of its history to gold which was discovered here in 1862. At the peak of the rush, Switzers (the town’s original name) had a population of around 2,000 including a large number of Chinese miners. At Switzers Museum, Waikaia’s heritage is proudly displayed. Adjoining the Museum is a bottle house constructed of 20,000 wine bottles.

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Drive 20 minutes to…

Piano Flat (walks have range of times from 30 minutes to full day hikes)

It has been described as a New Zealand gem that is yet to be discovered. Tucked up in the mountains of Southland’s far North, it is the ultimate holiday camping destination. Piano Flat is home to a number of recreational activities, including tramping, fishing, hunting and 4-wheel drive excursions.

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The History Buff

Do you want to travel back in time? Learn about Southland’s history on this trail.