Kia ora: Gore

Gore has more to offer than you may think, writes Elisabeth Easther

The giant trout in the main stree.
The giant trout in the main stree.

Origin of name: Originally known as Maruawai, Maori for Valley of Water. Was later named Gore in 1862 after Thomas Gore Browne, an early Governor of New Zealand.

Population: 12,250 (2012 estimate).

Where: In the Southland region, 64km northeast of Invercargill, 151km south of Dunedin; and 4752km from the South Pole.

The town slogan: They're not into that sort of thing, although some people call it The Brown Trout Capital of the World.

The mascot: The giant trout in the main street, which is very popular for photos.

Interesting historical fact: The hills overlooking Gore are called the Hokonui and there are tales of illegal alcohol being made up there since the early-1800s. One gentleman was known for his cabbage-tree distillate, McShane's Chained Lightning, which people blame for all manner of calamities. Every March the Hokonui Moonshiners' Festival celebrates that rich history.

Most famous locals: You don't get famous staying in Gore, but people born there include: Roy Patrick Kerr, who solved a problem Einstein struggled with and who has also won the Einstein medal; Mike Puru, breakfast host on The Edge, was a keen member of the Gore Operatic Society before he moved north; Shona McFarlane, painter, and Jenny Shipley, former Prime Minister, are Gore girls.

Best local website: and are both goodies.

Main employer: The Mataura Freezing Works is big, although it's taken some hits recently. Edendale, one of the biggest dairy plants in New Zealand, is just outside Gore. With about 65 drivers it's as big as a small town.

Town competition: Gold Guitars at Queen's Birthday weekend, a huge country musical festival that includes the Country Music Awards.

Best reason to stop: The further south you go, the friendlier the people. And the daffodil and rhododendron festivals.

Best place to take the kids: Hamilton Park, just opposite East Gore School. It has a BMX track, an adventure playground, and a miniature train track sometimes runs.

Best place for a drink: The Howl at the Moon, relatively new but popular.

Best food: Thomas Green is beautiful and recently done up, leather chairs, a huge fireplace, atmosphere. The facade is from the 1920s.

Best flat white: The Green Room, by the picture theatre, and the mobile coffee van, if you can find it.

Best bakery: Oven Fresh, it's the only bakery but it does the trick.

Best museum: The Hokonui Moonshine Museum. The i-site beyond the fish is also interesting.

Best art gallery: Eastern Southland Art Gallery with its staggering John Money collection. Local identity Jimmy Geddes somehow managed to secure John Money's art collection for Gore. Money was a sexologist and noted art collector who wanted to give his huge pile of art to a place where it would be appreciated. Amazing Ralph Hotere collection, too.

Best walk: For a casual stroll, try the Gore Gardens; for a bigger one, the tracks around Croydon Bush at the base of the Hokonui Mountains.

Best view: Climb to the top of the Hokonui Mountains, look towards Invercargill, Bluff and Stewart Island - on a clear day you can see forever.

Best place to pull over: Anywhere on the main street is pretty cool. Or Mataura River has some sweet spots both sides of the bridge.

Best playground: Eccles St, opposite KFC. It has swings, slides and toilets. It's been there forever but during that time they've halved the size of the slide, and it's lost the concrete in favour of rubber.

Here for a short time: Go to the art gallery, the John Money collection is impressive.

Best shop: Family-owned department store H&J Smith sells furniture, clothes, all sorts of things, and they do big specials.

Best swim: The Gore Swimming Pool is new. And right beside it is an incredible ice-skating rink, built because 10 families in the area loved ice-skating and raised the funds. What's more the ice-skating rink and pool back each other up, shifting hot and cold.

How's this: Houses are affordable, you can buy a nice one for under $400,000. Or if you want land, you can get a decent bit for $150,000 to $170,000.

Most fabulous item of wildlife: The brown trout. People come from all over the world to hook these treasures. Some say it's the best fishing in the whole world.

Regional park: The Dolamore Park is stunning. Ten minutes from Gore, it has a creek, an amazing adventure playground, flying foxes, a rhododendron dell, walks for the fit and the unfit, and you can tent out there. Some people park their caravans or take picnics. Best of all there's no cellphone coverage.

When a local has visitors from abroad: They take them fishing in summer, and skiing in winter, and there are lots of lakes - if you're into watersports this is a great launching spot.

The main street: Is filled with hanging baskets. There are roundabouts and no traffic lights.

Locals say: The streets are paved with gold; there's been a lot of wealth, more so in the past.

Visitors say: The further south you go, the friendlier the people.


The brown trout. People come from all over the world to hook these treasures. Top, the giant trout in the main street; above, Edge radio breakfast host Mike Peru. Photos / File

Thanks to Wes Gentle, principle of East Gore Primary, born and raised in Gore, he returned to the area as it's so fabulous.

- NZ Herald

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