Bluff, State Highway 1, New Zealand

Image © C. K. Hartman

Bluff is the southern-most town in New Zealand. It is 30 km by the road from Invercargill and drive is worth a trip. You pass through various different landscapes, from the flat farmland nearly overrun by Native Tussock plants to coastal views.  And not forgetting the well know Aluminium smelters factory on Tiwai Point, which is New Zealand’s only aluminium smelters.

Bluff, New Zealand
Image © Will Ellis

Before you decent into Bluff you get a spectacular view of the town nestled along the waterfront.   As you drive you will be rewarded with views of the shipping yards, houses, the ocean, fishing boats (including the old wrecks that are left by the shore for the birds to nest on) and of course the Ferry Terminal which will take you to the last Island of New Zealand – ‘Steward Island’.

Steward Island is 60km of the coast from Bluff.  Bluff has its own range of accommodation, some right on the waterfront, so if you are lucky you can get a room with a view.  Look the other way, away from the ocean and the skyline is dominated by Bluff Hill.

Bluff Hill stands at 265 m, and is an extinct volcanic cone.  But it is advised to drive up there, although local athletes do run, walk and cycle up the steep hill only to get to the top and get blasted by the prevailing westerly winds.  But the view on any given day is worth the effort.  You look out over Native Bush, the town of Bluff and the emerald blue ocean.

Bluff is the end of State Highway 1, which runs the length of New Zealand.  At the south end of town sits Stirling Point.  At Stirling Point you will find a signpost depicting the distance and directions to major cities around the world, including the Equator and the South Pole.  This is a must tourist location to visit, the views of the ocean are spectacular and there is a walk way you can follow around the point through Native Bush.  For those not inclined to walking, turn towards the hill and there is a lovely restaurant with views over the ocean.

Bluff, State Highway 1, New Zealand
Image © C. K. Hartman

Bluff is unique in many ways, the locals are friendly, there are plenty of little shops, lots to see but it is also the oldest European settlement in entire New Zealand.  It has a rich history but is often overlooked by Southlanders as the ‘complete end of New Zealand’.  This to me seems a shame as I have often gone there to enjoy the beautiful landscape and peace that you can only get from the ocean.

Bluff is being restored, the roads are clean and repaired, the houses are all different and the beaches readily accessible.  I am one of those people who will often go ‘behind the scenes’, away from where everyone else likes to go.  I often take side roads, and on one such an occasion found myself in front of the Maritime Museum, complete with a big beautiful boat outside with my name on it!  Driving a little further down roads which aren’t on the tourist map, I came across fishing yards full of tools of the trade, old boats, factories and the harbour itself.  My luck was with me that day because a rather large container ship had just pulled in (if that is indeed what ships do), and I was treated with the activity and co-ordination that goes along with docking such a large beast.  And to my amazement and amusement, right alongside the container ship was a much smaller local fisherman unloading his daily catch.  He appeared in no great hurry as he took in the sight and was soon chatting to a colleague from a neighbouring fishing boat.  Such is the sights and sounds of Bluff.  It’s more or less traditional fishing village with a modern twist.

I am glad I live within driving distance of this little unknown and often unappreciated fishing town; Bluff, the southern-most town of New Zealand.

About the Author:

Monica Toretto is a writer, painter and photographer. She lives with her two young sons in Invercargill near Bluff. She has traveled widely in Canada and the US and worked as a veterinary technician before returning to New Zealand. Her work has appeared in several magazines in the UK and New Zealand. She has also authored a book of poetry and photography called ‘Words’.

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