New Zealand’s South Island is known around the world for its sweeping snowscapes and postcard-perfect scenery. But while Queenstown may be one of the isle’s attention-stealers, it can often be overrun with tourists and pricey activities. Invercargill, on the other hand, is the South Island’s country-town underdog. The ideal destination for family holidays, Invercargill is teeming with activities for kids and adults alike. From fishing to hiking, to go-karting and more, there are plenty of things to do in Invercargill to keep the whole family entertained. No matter if you’re an adventurous family and love to make the most of the great outdoors, or are a troop who like to take things at a more leisurely pace, these are some of the best things to do in Invercargill with kids. Just make sure to pack a camera!
Go For A Hike
Invercargill has several stunning nature walks boasting some of the best of the South Island’s scenery. Depending on fitness levels, there are plenty of short, 30-minute round tracks or longer trails for those who love to spend their days in the great outdoors. The Waihopai Walkway is a fantastic 15-kilometre round track, taking around four and a half hours to complete from start to finish. This walkway is paved so is easily accessibly for all capabilities. Keep an eye out for cows along the way – if you keep very still, their curiosity may just result in a close encounter!
Hit The High Ropes Course
Located on the outskirts of Invercargill, Adventure Southland offers a range of exhilarating high ropes courses, surrounded by the South Island’s stunning greenery. The trained instructors focus on safety, form and fun, ensuring every adventurer is comfortable from the get-go. From high and low ropes courses and rock climbing, to abseiling, a flying fox, a giant swing, and archery, this outdoor adventure club is a fantastic day out for young adrenaline junkies and equally outgoing parents.
Make Tracks In A Go-Kart
Start your engines – nothing says competition quite like a day out at the go-karting track! Whether you’ve got an amateur roadie or an up-and-coming Lewis Hamilton on your hands, Xtreme Karts has a range of tracks appropriate for ages eight and up. The indoor go-karting track has plenty of space, guaranteeing spins, drifts, bumps and, most importantly, hours of fun. Grab a helmet and get your game face on, the Invercargill Grand Prix starts here!
Cast A Line
New Zealand has a diverse variety of sea and river life and the fishing opportunities are world-class. In the Southland region, brown trout are abundant and are a popular fishing prize. The Mataura River is a hotspot for anglers and is a beautiful area for scenery, even if you’re not so lucky reeling in the biggest catch of the day. Get in touch with Southland Anglers for local knowledge on the best spots to fish, and tips and tricks for nabbing a bite.
Head Out On A Drive
The Catlins is an incredible part of New Zealand, made up of waterfalls, wildlife, sweeping greenery, farmland and history. Located between Balclutha through to Invercargill, the drive across this region is unmissable for visitors. With New Zealand’s fantastic range of Department of Conservation-managed walks along the way, there are plenty of opportunities to get out of the car, stretch your legs and immerse yourself in the very heart of New Zealand nature. Special spots to look out for include Purakaunui Falls, the sea lion colonies at Surat Bay, the echoing chambers in Cathedral Coves, and Waipohatu Falls. Along the drive, there are dozens of breathtaking spots to explore and discover. If you’ve got time on your hands, venture further out along the wider Southern Scenic Route. You’ll discover Queenstown, Te Anau and more.
Log A Beach Day
A day out at Oreti Beach is a great option for the whole family when looking for fun things to do in Invercargill. A popular spot for kayaking, horse riding, motorbiking, sunbathing, paddling and beach games, Oreti Beach has something for everyone. Plus in the summer months, it is patrolled by lifeguards. Located just 10 minutes’ drive from Invercargill, it’s a great spot to pop back and forth to if you have sunny weather during your stay. Don’t forget to slip, slop, slap and wrap!
Dig Into A Farmers’ Market
The Southern Farmers’ Market, located at the Southland Masonic Centre, is a Sunday morning treat. With stalls offering fresh produce, honey, homemade chutneys and jams, baked goods, crafts, clothing, artisanal foods, and more, the markets are an excellent way to teach kids about seasonal buying, sustainability and an exciting range of different foods. The markets give local growers and suppliers a great platform to sell and interact with the community.
Catch A Movie
If you’re caught out on what to do in Invercargill on a rainy day, catch the latest films at Reading Cinemas. There’s something nostalgic about grabbing buttery popcorn, piling into comfy chairs and watching the action unfold on the big screen. With plenty of family-friendly films often available, particularly in school holidays, the cinema is a great option for passing the time while you wait for the rain to pass. Don’t forget to grab a choc-top ice-cream too!
Look To The (Night) Skies
As one of the most southern points in New Zealand, Invercargill is one of the best spots in the country to see the breathtaking Aurora Australis, or Southern Lights. A tapestry of pinks, blues, greens and yellows, this light phenomenon is made up of electrically-charged particles reacting with natural gases at high-speed, resulting in a spectacular aurora effect which lights up the whole sky. Make sure to visit between March and September to catch the incredible light show. It only appears with perfect, clear weather conditions around midnight, so make sure to check the forecast before heading out. Not only will this be a great opportunity for a science lesson for your little ones, it will also be one of the best light shows you’ll undoubtedly ever see.
Now that your family-friendly itinerary is sorted, the only thing left to do is book cheap flights for the whole family to Invercargill. You can also book your Invercargill accommodation and even car hire with Webjet, too.