Take time while in Bluff to follow our scenic drive and experience all that the town has to offer.
The Bluff History Group’s Heritage Trail commemorates the life of Bluff’s most famous son, Sir Joseph Ward, with many sites having connections to the Ward family. Featuring seventeen sites, the trail begins at the Greenhills Church and takes you to a variety of sites including the Greenpoint Walkway, the Monica, several buildings and homes of historic interest, the old Bluff Cemetery and Stirling Point to name just a few.
The route will help you appreciate some of the history of New Zealand oldest continuously occupied European settlement, while you will also see the influence of the fishing industry on the town, enjoy stunning views from the Stirling Point signpost at the summit of Bluff Hill and much much more.
As you approach Bluff you pass through the small community of Greenhills. It is here that many travelers take a slight diversion to the left to inspect the former GreenhillsChurch (now Sunday School). Built in 1886 from quality timbers from local sawmills the church has some very interesting architectural features including a Tower Pointed Spire. The building has recently been recognised by the N.Z Historic Places Trust.
Sir Joseph Ward Statue
At the entrance of Bluff at the intersection of Blackwater, Shannon, and Gore Streets stands the statue of Sir Joseph Ward who became Prime Minister of New Zealand
Adjacent to the Sanford fish factory is the man-made Island Harbour , officially opened on 3rd December 1960. Annual cargo throughput is about 1.7 million tonnes. Imports include alumina and other raw materials for the Tiwai Point Aluminium Smelter, petroleum products, fertilizer and other paper & pulp while exports comprise aluminium, meat, wool, tallow, forest products, fish, grain and coal.
As you leave the Island Harbour allow time to visit the Bluff Maritime Museum Open daily[weekends 1pm – 5pm] The museum tells the story of much of Southland’s maritime history including oystering, whaling and development of the harbour. A coin operated triple expansion engine from a former tug is a highlight. The Oyster boat, Monica II, is on display which gives visitors the opportunity to climb aboard and understand the workings of a real oyster boat.
Oyster & Fishing Fleet
Traveling along Foreshore Road you will pass the berths of many of the oyster & fishing fleet which operate from Bluff.
Stewart Island Ferry Wharf
At the end of Foreshore Road, the Stewart Island Ferry Terminal can be found. From here the Foveaux Express Catamaran travels Foveaux Strait to Stewart Island all year round. Travelers wishing to spend time on the Island can arrange secure storage for their vehicle in Bluff. Also in the area of the Ferry Wharf is the old town wharf which was first constructed in 1863. Many marine charters operate from here.
Tiwai Point Aluminium Smelter
Traveling south towards Stirling Point you will find the War Memorial. From here a magnificent view can be had of the Tiwai Point Aluminum Smelter. Opened in 1971.
A further 1.5 kilometres of coastal drive will bring you to the Stirling Point Signpost which marks the beginning of State Highway One. The signpost gives the distances to some of the worlds most famous cities. The Point is named after Captain William Stirling who established a Whaling Station nearby in 1836. From the Point visitors can enjoy the choice of two fabulous scenic walks, the Foveaux Walk a two hour walk around the coastline or the shorter Glory Track a 20-30 minute trek. Also at the point are a range of facilities – tearooms, restaurants, gift shop, wine bar and accommodation.
Returning to the heart of Bluff, take time to visit the shops, restaurants, hotels and accommodation houses. A left turn at Lee St will lead you to the top of Bluff Hill, a 3 km drive or a strenuous walk. From the summit 824 ft above sea level inspiring views of Foveaux Strait, Stewart Island, Ruapuke Island, Dog Island, the Tiwai Point Aluminium Smelter, Invercargill and beyond may be seen from the viewing platform.
Sir Joseph Ward Burial Site
Descending from Bluff Hill, turn left at Gore St. until you reach Shannon St., there turn left again and proceed tothe corner of and Shannon and Lagan St, turn right and drive to the end of Lagan St. where you will find the site of the old Bluff cemetery. It is here that the Sir Joseph Ward is buried.
The Greenpoint Walkway is well signposted off State Highway 1 on your way to and from Bluff. It is an easily negotiated track (accessible to wheelchairs) and provides panoramic views across Bluff Harbour. The walk takes you past some of New Zealand’s oldest rocks plus a thriving wildlife community to a viewing platform that overlooks a ship graveyard and identifies some of Bluff Harbour’s historic landmarks.
As you leave Greenpoint take a short detour at Greenhills by turning left and taking a bush drive to Omaui Beach. The drive is at its best in December and January when rata and clematis flowers are in bloom. Picnic spots overlook the entrance to Invercargill estuary, beach walks and sea views abound. From Omaui it is a short drive back to State Highway One.