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Exploring New Zealand

Bluff Area Guide

The small fishing town and port of Bluff, 27 kilometres south of Invercargill, stands at the southern tip of the South Island, a last outpost of civilisation before the rough seas of Foveaux Strait lead across to New Zealand's third main island, bush-clad Stewart Island.

Bluff stands quite literally at the end of the road. It is here, at windswept Stirling Point, that New Zealand's main north-south highway, state highway 1, ends, one last multi-armed signpost pointing the way to the South Pole, 4,810 kilometres away.

Bluff is the country's oldest continuously occupied European settlement, and began life as a supply base for whalers and sealers in the early 19th century. Today it is famous for its succulent deep-sea Bluff oysters, with more than seven million oysters landed during the five-month season between late March and the end of August. The start of the oyster season is celebrated in style at the Bluff Oyster and Southland Seafood Festival each April.

To find out about the town's early whaling history and its modern day oystering, visit the Bluff Maritime Museum at 241 Foreshore Road. An oyster boat is on permanent display beside the museum.

There are several good walkways in Bluff, but for the best views, walk up to the 265-metre summit of Bluff Hill (Motupohue) where the 360-degree views take in Bluff Harbour, Foveaux Strait and Stewart Island. From Bluff Harbour, the stunning southern lights, aurora australis, can sometimes be seen, forming a luminescent blue-green curtain in the sky.

From Bluff, it's a one-hour catamaran ride across to Stewart Island, where the Rakiura National Park provides a habitat for some of New Zealand's rarest native birds, including the kiwi.