Motoring madness, a thriving cafe scene and a couple of dimly lit drinking dens. This faraway city has a few surprises up its sleeve.
Where to eat in Invercargill
that is the first recommendation on everyone's lips. These local favourites regularly have a queue out the door at lunchtime - they're only available in Invercargill, so get in line.
is a family business started by former Hokitika mayor Tik Heenan, and now run by his granddaughter. With summer berries, clover honey, Central Otago pinots and pineapple lumps - these chocolatiers pride themselves on creating a taste of New Zealand. And their flavours get daring - think Bluff oyster, craft beer, whiskey and lemon -and the famous Southland cheese rolls.
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For decent cafe fare, including plenty of vegan and gluten-free options,
on Dee St offers excellent coffee, artworks by local artists, local produce such as Stewart Island salmon and Southland potatoes, and some very fancy baking.
Where to drink in Invercargill
How's this for an appropriately named drinking establishment? I think I speak for everyone when I say I'd love to be at Level One. This one is not just a state of affairs but also a bar attached to Invercargill's Kelvin Hotel. Level One offers a good selection of craft beer and cocktails, as well as bistro fare.
Louie's Tapas Bar is a dark moody den for hiding in and enjoying a cocktail. You'll find it in the historic Swan Hotel building, There's a vast wine list and the menu is seasonal with loads of local produce including venison, blue cod and foraged horopito. An Invercargill institution.
A modern outfit in another of the city's historic buildings, Auction House offers a tapas menu, a great spot to relax and on the right day, enjoy a drink in the courtyard.
Where to stay in Invercargill
Anyone who's ever dreamed of driving a digger has heard of Transport World. But did you know you can stay right across the road? The Lodges at Transport World are seven luxury boutique apartments - each has room two bedrooms (except the Honeymoon suite, with room for just two). They're self-catering, modern and elegantly appointed.
For a central stay, the Victoria Rail Hotel is housed in a beautiful historic building just across from the old railway station downtown.
On the outskirts of town, Beersheba is a bed and breakfast which offers suites and a cottage, set in manicured gardens (it's a popular spot for local weddings).