Free (and Cheap) Things to Do in Gore
Unless you’re doing a private fishing tour or flying in a Tiger Moth bi-plane, you don’t need to worry about spending too much on tourist activities in Gore. Most of its top attractions are free or very reasonably priced, between the stunning bushwalks of Dolamore Park and the quirky museum celebrating the town’s fascination for all things moonshine. Check out all the fun ways to not spend too much money in Southland’s charming rural town with this list of free and cheap things to do in Gore!
1. Enjoy the Bush Walks of Dolamore Park – FREE
One of the must-dos in Gore is spending some time exploring Dolamore Park. This park, arboretum, campground and epic children’s playground sits on the edge of the 95ha (235-acre) podocarp forest with a myriad of walking and biking trails to explore. Walks range from 10 minutes to four hours in the lush native forest with interpretation panels to learn more about its intricate ecosystem. Find out more in the 6 Best Walks in Gore.
Location: Dolamore Park Road, Gore, approximately 12km (7 miles) from Gore town centre.
2. Check Out Gore’s Gardens – FREE
For some of the town’s areas of beauty, check out either Gore Public Gardens or Bannerman Park… or both! Gore Public Gardens has something to see whatever the season, whether it’s the spring bulbs accompanied by camellias and magnolias or the summer roses. Bannerman Park has an array of flower gardens and exotic tree plantings among the opportunity to see deer in the paddocks.
Location: Gore Public Gardens – Fairfield Street and Ardwick Street. Bannerman Park – Mitre Street and Crewe Street, Gore town centre.
3. Visit the Hokonui Moonshine Museum – CHEAP
One of the quirkiest museums in the country, the Hokonui Moonshine Museum conveys the story of Gore’s illicit whisky-distilling history through an array of static displays, audio recordings and more. It gives an interesting insight into the Kiwi culture and its dry sense of humour! Costing just NZ$5 (price subject to change), it’s a museum that most can afford to check out. Also in the museum building is the Gore Historical Museum which is free entry. See more all-weather attractions like this in the 10 Things to Do in Gore on a Rainy Day.
Location: 16 Hokonui Drive, Gore town centre.
4. Be Inspired at the Eastern Southland Art Gallery – FREE
For an artistic touch to your visit to Gore, check out the Eastern Southland Art Gallery. You are welcomed into this grand historic library building to the sight of Medusa on the ceiling before engaging in the numerous exhibitions. Aside from showcasing works from major New Zealand contemporary artists and the renowned John Money Collection, the art gallery has an intriguing collection of Dogon and Baga carving from West Africa, as well as carvings from Elco Island in Australia.
Location: 14 Hokonui Drive, Gore town centre.
5. Admire the Vintage Aircraft of the Croydon Aviation Heritage Centre – CHEAP
Another worthwhile museum in the area is the Croydon Aviation Heritage Centre in Mandeville. Set in a large hanger, the indoor attraction showcases beautifully restored and preserved 1920s and 30s aircraft, most of which can actually fly! The colourful Tiger Moth and Fox Moth bi-planes, a Bantam and even a cool Aermacchi fighter jet are on display at this attraction that’s full of surprises. Admission is around NZ$12 for adults and children get in free.
Location: 1558 Waimea Highway, Mandeville, approximately 17km (11 miles) from Gore town centre.
6. Walk the Waikaka Way Walkway – FREE
A free walk in the town itself, the Waikaka Way Walkway is not only a fun alliteration but a picturesque walk following the Waikaka River. The flat easy walk starts or ends in Hamilton Park, following the contour of the Waikaka River where you can find popular fishing pools. Enjoy the scenery of the rolling rural hills on some of the side loop walks off the trail. It only takes around 15 minutes to walk the main trail one way, while the side walks can add anything from a couple of minutes to 20 minutes onto the experience.
Location: Hamilton Park or Toronto Street, approximately 1km (0.6 miles) from Gore town centre.
7. Try Out Ice Skating or Relax in the Hydrotherapy Pools at the Gore Multisports Complex – CHEAP
For a bit of indoor recreation and relaxation, check out the Gore Multisports Complex with its ice rink and an aquatic centre. The ice rink offers weekend public sessions and children’s sessions on weeknights for an affordable price of around NZ$15. Alternatively (or additionally), the Gore Aquatic Centre offers more than just a 25m (80ft) swimming pool, but a place to unwind in the hydrotherapy pools at a soothing temperature of 39ºC (102ºF). There’s also a kids’ water play area should you be travelling with little ones. See more activities like these in the 7 Things to Do in Gore with Kids.
Location: Robertson Street, approximately 3km (2 miles) from Gore town centre.
8. Catch a Movie at the SBS St James Theatre – CHEAP
The heart of Gore’s arts and entertainment scene, SBS St James Theatre offers an endearing cinema experience somewhere between boutique and the mainstream. With a 450-seat theatre for live shows and movie screenings, as well as a 100-seat cinema, the scene is set for relaxation, captivation, excitement and/or tears, depending on what you go and see. Watch the latest blockbusters and arthouse releases, theatre productions and events like the NZ Country Music Awards in May. Cinema tickets are around NZ$15 per adult or cheaper on a Tuesday.
Location: 61 Irk Street, Gore town centre.
9. Wander the Grounds of Hokonui Pioneer Park – CHEAP
Step back in time at Hokonui Pioneer Park. Open on weekends, this historical attraction is a mock-up of a pioneering village featuring the likes of a church with a lychgate, an old bank, an old cottage, a school, a blacksmith and more. You can also explore a museum of vintage tractors and cars and agricultural implements. Admittedly, the duck pond is our favourite thing about the park, as well as the price of around NZ$5 per adult and NZ$1 per child.
Location: 67 Waimea Street, North Gore, approximately 2km (1 mile) from Gore town centre.
10. Get a Photo with the Giant Trout, Guitar and Ram – FREE
Last but certainly not least, spend some time grabbing some selfies beside Gore’s oversized attractions! The Gore trout is a highlight, a giant trout to mark that the town is the self-proclaimed “Brown Trout Fishing Capital of New Zealand”. Just behind the trout, you’ll find a symbol of another claim to fame of the town; the giant guitar statue with handprints in the concrete of country musicians. Finally, don’t miss the lesser-known Gore Ram Statue in the south end of the town.
Location: Gore Trout and Country Music statues – Accessible off Main Street, Ordsal Street and Norfolk Street. Gore Ram Statue – Main Street next to Gore Station.