The Must-Dos in Gore!
We bet you never thought you would be searching for things to do in the “Brown Trout Capital of the World” (unless you are a keen angler and that is exactly why you have graced this Southland town with your presence). Gore is a quirky place with a short yet fascinating history, especially where aircraft and whisky are concerned. What mostly attracts travellers to Gore is the nature. They don’t call it the “Brown Trout Capital” for no reason. Hire a fishing rod and fishing license and see exactly why on the Mataura River. Plus, see the list below for all the other things to do in Gore!
If you’re not into fishing, however, there is a good selection of parks to wander around. It’s worth travelling further afield to go camping or hiking. To plan your Gore trip according to your travel style, take a look at The Complete Guide to Gore. Once you have ticked everything off this list, be sure to visit the other locations in Southland by checking out our Southland destination category.
1. Hike, Mountain Bike or Have a Picnic at Dolamore Park
Dolamore Park is a very well-appointed scenic reserve featuring walkways, mountain biking trails, a park, a garden, a campsite and a picnic/BBQ area. Covering over 95 hectares (235 acres) of forest, the park is home to a wide variety of native New Zealand species like the kereru (a colourful wood pigeon), the playful fantail and the bellbird. Stay until dawn and treat yourself to a walk at night to spot glowworms all around the park. See more activities like this in the 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Gore.
Location: Dolamore Park Road, approximately 12km (7 miles) from Gore town centre. Follow State Highway 94 north, turn off on Kingdon Road then Reaby Road, then Dolamore Park Road.
2. Try Out the Trout Fishing
Gore prides itself on being the “Brown Trout Capital of the World”. Between October and April, anglers from all around the world gather on the world-famous Mataura River to catch brown trout. The Mataura River is known to have one of the highest brown trout populations and catch rates in the world, so you have no excuse not to come back with dinner. Learn more about trout fishing in NZ in our fishing guide to New Zealand.
Location: Mataura River or organise a meeting point with fishing guides.
3. Explore the Gore Public Gardens
We love the Gore Public Gardens in autumn when leaves slowly change colour but it can be enjoyed all year long. One of the most prominent features of the gardens is the huge wellingtonia tree along with a range of exotic trees. For the flower lovers, you may want to show up in November when the peony trees are in full blossom. Finally, if you are showing up in spring, you’ll easily spot the birds taking over the park. We like to think of this activity as one of the 8 Romantic Activities in Gore for Couples.
Location: Fairfield Street and Ardwick Street, Gore town centre.
4. Check Out the Croydon Aviation Heritage Centre
Just outside of Gore is home to the Croydon Aviation Heritage Centre. This museum packed with New Zealand’s earliest aircraft is a great insight into the technological advancement of aviation. Their main attraction is the 1930s biplanes. It was because men were brave enough to fly those soapboxes that we can now safely fly across the world in only a few hours! Plus, this activity is one of the 9 Things to Do in Gore on a Rainy Day.
Location: Manderville, approximately 17km (11 miles) along the State Highway 94 north of Gore.
5. Walk Around Bannerman Park
The small park has earned its nickname as the “Hidden Valley” from the small stream running through it digging a miniature valley. Bannerman Park is extremely colourful all year round with different flowers blossoming. For those that like to learn something new every day, you will appreciate the fact that there is a sign in front of almost every tree with its English and Latin name. See more places for families to stretch their legs in the 7 Things to Do in Gore with Kids.
Location: Mitre Street and Crewe Street, Gore town centre.
6. Visit Hokonui Pioneer Park
Hokonui Pioneer Park replicates a small village that will take you back in time to the mid-19th century. New Zealand was looking very different back then with early farm machinery, homemade furniture, rustic schools and wooden churches. The admission is only a gold coin (NZ$2) but time your visit well: the park is only open from 2pm to 4pm daily.
Location: 67 Waimea Street, North Gore, approximately 2km (1 mile) from Gore town centre.
7. Walk the Waikaka Way Walkway
The 30-minute Waikaka Way Walkway circles around Hamilton Park along the Waikaka River. The park covers about 20 hectares (49 acres) of sports grounds, from rugby to running, and the Waikaka River is a well-known fishing spot for the locals. No need to get equipped for the walk, the walkway is well maintained and very flat.
Location: Hamilton Park or Toronto Street, approximately 1km (0.6 miles) from Gore town centre.
8. Visit Maple Glen Gardens
The green hills of this 10-hectare garden are hiding many secrets, from the wide variety of vegetation such as wetland and woodland to a massive range of birds such as waterfowl and hand-reared parrots. Maple Glen Gardens will set you back a few coins, as the entry is by donation only.
Location: Wyndham, 32.5km (20 miles) south of Gore down State Highway 1. Turn left at Edendale to head to Wyndham.
9. Get Educated at the Hokonui Moonshine Museum
The Hokonui Moonshine Museum is dedicated to the history of illicit whiskey-making in New Zealand where prohibition laws were applied for over 50 years. Locals had to get their booze somewhere and the moonshining tradition (illegal home distillery of whiskey or other alcohol) flourished in the Gore region for almost half a century.
Location: 16 Hokonui Drive, Gore town centre.
10. Visit the Eastern Southland Gallery
If you’re going to the Hokonui Moonshine Museum, then just pop in across the road to the Eastern Southland Gallery! It’s free entry and there’s more to this fascinating art gallery than meets the eye. (Although, even the outside is pretty impressive in its heritage library building). While collections are always changing, a more permanent fixture is the African art exhibition with impressive African artefacts and statues.
Location: 14 Hokonui Drive, Gore.
11. Hike, Mountain Bike and Camp at Piano Flat and the Waikaia Forest
The huge Waikaia Forest covers over 10,000 hectares (24,710 acres) of beech trees with a large stream going right through it. On the other hand, Piano Flat is a vast grassy flat with a picnic and camping area. Choose from 4WD tracks, horse riding, mountain biking or simply hiking on one of the many trails to follow to explore the scenic area.
Location: Approximately 54km (33 miles) to 78km (48 miles) north of Gore. Take State Highway 94 then turn off on the Riversdale-Waikaia Road at Riversdale.
More Things to Do in Gore
That’s it for the best things to do in Gore. Find more activities for your travels in the 51 Best Things to Do in the South Island.