What to Do in the Brown Trout Capital
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 Gore with your presence). The Southland town and its surrounds are a quirky place with a short yet fascinating history, especially where aircraft and whisky is concerned. What mostly attracts backpackers 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!
Otherwise, there is a good selection of parks to wander around. It’s worth travelling further afield to go camping or hiking. Once you have ticked everything off this list, be sure to visit the other locations in Southland by following our Southland Backpacker Guide and Fiordland National Park Guide.
1. Dolamore Park
Dolamore Park is a very well-appointed scenic reserve featuring walkways, mountain biking trails, a park, a garden, a campsite and picnic/BBQ area. Covering over 95 hectares 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.
Location: Northwest of Gore. Follow State Highway 94 north, turn off on Kingdon Road then Reaby Road, then Dolamore Park Road.
2. Trout Fishing
Gore prides itself to be 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 population and catch rate 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.
3. 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.
Location: Gore’s town belt.
4. Croydon Aircraft Company
The company is well known in New Zealand for refurbishing and flying vintage aircraft. Their main attraction is the 1930’s biplanes. A visit to the museum will give you a great insight of the early aeronautic technology and their complicated restoration process. 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!
Location: Manderville, 17km along the State Highway 94 north of Gore.
5. Bannerman Park
The small park has earned its nickname as the “Hidden Valley” from the small stream running through it digging a miniature valley. The park is extremely colourful all year round with different flowers blossoming throughout the year. 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.
Location: Central Gore, off Crewe Street.
6. Hokonui Pioneer Park
This museum replicating a small village 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 ($2) but time your visit well: the park is only open 2-4pm daily.
Location: North Gore, on the corner of Waimea Street and State Highway 94.
7. Waikaka Way Walkway
The 30-minute walkway circles around Hamilton Park along the Waikaka River. The park covers about 20 hectares 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: The walk begins and ends off Toronto Street, on the east side of town.
8. Maple Glen Gardens
The greens 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. The Maple Glen Gardens will set you back a few coins, as the entry is by donation only.
Location: Wyndham, 32.5km south of Gore down State Highway 1. Turn left at Edendale to head to Wyndham.
9. 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: Central Gore. You can’t miss it.
10. Piano Flat & Waikaia Forest
The huge Waikaia Forest covers over 10,000 hectares 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: About 1-hour drive north of Gore. Take State Highway 94 then turn off on the Riversdale-Waikaia Road at Riversdale.