The Southland Region & Invercargill City

Southland is a large region with a low population density. The regional economy is fueled by primary industries such as farming, fishing and forestry. The major population centers are Invercargill, with a population of 51,696 (Census 2013) and Gore, which has a population of 12,033 (Census 2013). Invercargill is New Zealand's southernmost city, and the regional captial, however there are numerous townships spread throughout the region, ranging in size from thousands of residents, to places with resident populations in single figures.

A unique feature of Southland’s climate is our long summer nights: we enjoy more daylight hours than any other part of the country.  At the summer solstice, we have nearly 16 hours of daylight.  On a dark, clear night, you may be able to witness the world famous Aurora Australis (Southern Lights).  This magical atmospheric condition is like a spectacular light show in the night sky and results when particles from the sun interact with the earth’s magnetic field.  The resulting electric charge makes the gases in the atmosphere glow red, yellow and green.

Southland is a nature-lovers paradise, as the region contains the world-famous UNESCO World Heritage site of Milford Sound, Fiordland National Park, Stewart Island/Rakiura National Park, and the rugged Catlins. Activities such as skiing and snowboarding, mountain biking, jet boating, surfing, tramping (hiking), kayaking and more, are all available in multiple locations about the region, most within minutes of Invercargill city, and the most remote locations being no more than two hours journey by car.

Welcome to Invercargill City

Invercargill city by night

Invercargill, Southland’s capital, is a flat and spacious city situated just minutes from the coast; Oreti Beach is just ten minutes drive from SIT.  It’s a compact city and it is easy to find your way around to enjoy the excellent shopping, lively cafes, restaurants and bars, cultural attractions and outstanding nature reserves and parks.

Sport is a major theme for the city and we have an abundance of sports facilities, including an indoor stadium and cycling velodrome, Olympic size pool and countless parks and sport grounds. Our major recreational area, Sandy Point, is 2,000+ hectares of recreational land, and caters for both casual and organised recreation, including walking and running trails, mountain bike trails, horse riding, dog sledding, rowing, water skiing, motorcross, motor racing and speedway, field sports, and much more.

Invercargill city - aerial shot

The city itself is home to a wide range of heritage and cultural facilities, including the Civic Theatre, Museum and Art Gallery and Queens Park. The variety and number of heritage buildings in the city centre add to Invercargill’s character.

Known as the 'City of Water and Light' due to long summer daylight hours, glorious twilights and the abundance of our most important natural resource - water, the city reflects the importance of the farming sector it supports. Based on primary produce, Invercargill is critical in supporting the booming dairy industry, which in turn drives our renowned engineering sector to increasing levels of innovation and excellence.

Accommodation and living costs in Invercargill are considerably lower than in other major cities in New Zealand due to the abundance of available land for housing and gentle landforms, meaning relative ease of housing and infrastructure construction.

Invercargill is favourably placed on the Southern Scenic Route and is the gateway to some of New Zealand's most beautiful scenery and destinations, including the Southland heartland, Stewart Island, Queenstown, Fiordland and the Catlins. 

The people of the City of Invercargill warmly invite you to come join us to experience the friendliness and hospitality that makes our city such a great place to live. 

Event central

Invercargill's Civic Theatre

Living in Southland brings a wealth of lifestyle opportunities, including the many flagship events that are held each year. 

  • The Burt Munro Challenge is a motorcycle rally of international acclaim. Held over four days in February each year, the event celebrates Invercargill's own world land-speed record holder, Burt Munro, and his 'World's Fastest Indian' motorcycle.
  • The world famous Bluff Oyster Festival is a chance to taste some of the freshest oysters plucked out of the ocean before they are exported around the world. 
  • Shakespeare in the Park is held in Invercargill’s Queens Park. This annual festival showcases some of Shakespeare’s best works in an accessible, interactive, outdoor environment. 
  • The Southland Festival of the Arts showcases outstanding imported and local arts activities in a range of genres: theatre, music, dance, literary arts and galleries. 
  • The annual Tour of Southland captivates the country as road cyclists from around the world participate in this six-day stage race right across Southland. 
  • Buskers from around the world descend on Invercargill for the annual Southland Busker's Festival, which unleashes several days of humorous hi-jinks.  You can’t miss it! 
  • The International Food Festival offers the opportunity to tantalise your taste buds with food and entertainment from around the world. 
  • Run, walk or bike the 12 kilometre Surf to City fun race, which starts from Oreti Beach and ends up in the centre of the city at Queens Park. 

There is a wealth of other activities held during the year, including international and national sports competitions, the Royal New Zealand Ballet, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, a number of shows and performances and popular New Zealand bands and singers.  You can find out what other events are going on at or take a look at the Friendly’s 101 List for plenty of free and low cost things to do in and around Invercargill.