Invercargill: Green Acres, New Zealand
After waiting for a week in Dunedin, I left to search for sunnier climes. As I
was checking out of the Acadian Motel, the friendly owner apologized profusely
for the weather and assured me that Dunedin is actually a wonderful city, which
I assured her it seemed to
be. Hopefully, I'll see the "real" Dunedin the next time I visit New
continued heading south that morning and drove through an area on the
southeastern coast known as the Catlins, which is one of the most remote places
in New Zealand. There aren't a lot of people in the Catlins and the
highway becomes a dirt road (or "unsealed" road, as they call it
here). Since my car isn't insured on unsealed roads, I was a little
apprehensive about driving through the Catlins but the road is pretty wide
and there wasn't a lot of traffic, so I didn't have any trouble. Since I'd
been dealing with a lot of crowds all through New Zealand for the previous
month, the Catlins were a nice break and, probably for the first time, I felt
like I was seeing the real New Zealand.
sun finally emerged late that afternoon as I pulled into Invercargill (pop.
50,000), a farming city on the very southern tip of the South Island and about
as far south as you can drive in New Zealand. Invercargill is the butt of
a lot of jokes in New Zealand since it's a pretty rural area and there are a lot
of farms in this area -- definitely life in the slow lane. A few days
earlier, I had talked to some adventure-seeking teenagers and when I said I was
going to Invercargill, they asked me one question:
Here's the theme to
Green Acres. Those younger than about 30 have probably
never seen this show (which is fortunate).
RealPlayer. If problems, see
was a nice change of pace, though, because every city that I'd visited in New
Zealand up until now boasted a myriad of adrenalin-pumping experiences,
including jet-boat rides, white-water rafting, hang-gliding, bungy-jumping,
sea-kayaking, and a lot of other hyphenated thrill activities which can whittle
down your wallet in no time flat. The most exciting thing to do in
Invercargill was visit the Southland Museum (which I did) and walk around the
beautiful downtown area (which I also did). More than any other place I've
visited yet in New Zealand, Invercargill reminded me of a large Midwestern farm
town, something like a Bismarck or Wichita, which was all the more reason to
isn't real exciting, but it seems pretty down-to-earth and the folks there take
life a little slower than elsewhere in New Zealand. During my two days
there, I got a good feeling for the town and, although it's the antithesis of all
those New Zealand action-adventure towns, I liked Invercargill a lot. The thrill-seekers can stay in
Queenstown or Wanaka, as far as I'm concerned -- I'll take Invercargill any
left: After a week of rain, I left
Dunedin and headed south. This is Nugget Point on the southeastern coast
of the South Island... and yes, it's a real nugget.
center: Driving across the Catlins,
probably the most remote part of New Zealand.
right: Only 4 million people live in this country but there are 48 million sheep.
I think I've seen most of them.
left: Invercargill is about as far south
as you can go in New Zealand. With a lot of farmland nearby and all the
John Deere Tractor places, it feels like a Midwestern city. And, like a
lot of Midwestern cities, there isn't a whole lot to do in Invercargill -- but
maybe that's why I liked
center: The Southland Museum in
Invercargill is the best museum I've visited so far in New Zealand.
right: Getting some Fish and Chips from a seafood market in
left: Literally the end of the road. This
in Bluff, a few miles south of Invercargill and as far south as you can drive
in New Zealand.
center: Surfer dude along the
right: The sausage capital of New Zealand? This is my kind of
Travels (2001-02) >
Story List >
New Zealand and Cook Island Stories >
Green Acres, New Zealand Style