Car Rental in Invercargill Airport, New Zealand
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Invercargill is the southernmost city in New Zealand, and one of the most southerly cities in the world.
It sits right in the middle of rich farmlands and large swathes of conservation areas that are some of the remotest and rawest in the country.
Because of its flat terrain, Invercargill grew to be a service city to support the livestock, dairy and agricultural industries of the region, and Central Otago’s Gold Rush in mid-19th century.
Its wide streets – measuring 40 metres wide at Dee and Tay – make driving around by car a hassle-free experience, as though driving back in time.
Today, Invercargill is where people make the necessary stop to buy supplies, and enjoy a piece of culture and civilization before dispersing into the vast, unexplored wilderness of the Fiordland.
Exploring in and around Invercargill
Invercargill is not only physically isolated from the rest of the South Island – it is also architecturally a century apart.
Most of the buildings in the city are at least a century old, built in the late 19th century when Scots started settling in the Southlands after the discovery of gold in Central Otago a few hours up north.
The city streets – named after rivers in Scotland and Northern England – sedate way of life, and Scottish accent unlike any other in New Zealand complete a visitor’s time-warp experience, one reason why many travelers linger a little longer before venturing westward to South Island’s frigid wilderness.
To stock up on provisions and indulge in a bit of retail therapy, drive to Esk Street, the city’s main shopping artery.
Some of the most interesting turn-of-the-century architecture can be seen at the Bank Corner, but if you prefer to people-watch instead, head to Wachner Place for a cup of coffee and a dose of sunshine as well.
The 81-hectare Queen’s Park north of the central business district is a nice place to warm up to nature before you make the trek across the Southern Alps and into the cold fingers of Tasman Sea encroaching into the steep valleys of Milford Sound.
Queenstown and Fiordland
What makes Invercargill even more central to tourism is its strategic location to all kinds of adventure imaginable.
Four hours to the north is the wildly popular Queenstown, billed as the world’s adventure capital which is exactly what it says.
To the west is New Zealand’s ecologically priceless Fiordland, characterised by dramatic steep-sided valleys ocean-flooded by the waters of Tasman Sea, and more important, home to species thought to be extinct anywhere else in the country.
If you come in September, you will be treated to a spectacular light show known as the Aurora Australis, the southern counterpart of the Northern Lights.