Bluff is Invercargill’s port, 27km south of the city. The main reasons to come here are to catch the ferry to Stewart Island, pose for photos beside the Stirling Point signpost, or buy famous Bluff oysters. Also at Stirling Point is a huge chain-link sculpture by NZ artist Russell Beck. It symbolises the Maori legend where the South Island is the canoe of Maui and Stewart Island is the boat’s anchor. At Stirling Point, the chain disappears into the ocean, and a companion sculpture on Stewart Island represents the other end of the anchor chain.
While Bluff isn’t the South Island’s southernmost point (that claim belongs to Slope Point in the Catlins), and even though Stewart Island and other dots of rock lie even further south, the phrase ‘from Cape Reinga to Bluff’ is oft-quoted to signify the entire length of NZ. NZ’s main highway, SH1, terminates south of Bluff at Stirling Point, so it really does feel like the end of the country.
Kids will enjoy the small Bluff Maritime Museum and clambering over a century-old oyster boat, while steam nerds will love the big old 600hp steam engine. Interesting displays on Bluff’s history complete the exhibition.
The Bluff Oyster & Food Festival celebrates Bluff’s most famous exports, and is held annually, usually in May. The oysters are in season from late March to late August. To buy fresh Bluff oysters, visit Fowlers Oysters on the way into town on the left.
Near the Four Square supermarket, Stella’s is your best bet for a coffee before braving the ferry crossing to Stewart Island. The seafood chowder and pies are pretty good too.
For more information, see www.bluff.co.nz.