What to Do in Riverton: Southland’s Relaxed Seaside Town
One of the main highlights of the Southern Scenic Route, Riverton is rich in both Maori and European history. Discover it for yourself and the amazing local museum, through the relics on display around the town or along the nearby hiking trails. Riverton also has plenty of places to unwind, from the quaint cafes to the magnificent beaches at Howells Point or Colac Bay. You can even give surfing a go at probably the southernmost point you’re ever likely to surf! (Don’t worry, wetsuits are available to hire). So take a look at this list of things to do in Riverton and get inspired for your visit!
1. Learn to Surf at Colac Bay
As you might have guessed by the giant sculpture welcoming you into the settlement of Colac Bay, surfing is kind of a big deal here. Surf as far south as you’re ever likely to surf on the powerful waves of the Southern Ocean. Surf lessons are available here or experienced surfers can hit the waves at either Riverton, Colca Bay or Monkey Island. Learn more about surf locations in 7 Places to Surf in the South Island.
Location: Colac Bay, 13km west of Riverton
2. Visit Te Hikoi Culture Heritage Museum
One of the must-visit museums in New Zealand, the Te Hikoi Southern Journey is more than just your standard small-town museum. Your journey begins in the sailing ship theatre where you’ll learn about early voyages to the Southland region from the early Maori and Europeans. Learn stories of sailings on the Roaring Forties, enjoy interactive displays of how Maori and early Europeans survived in this wild part of New Zealand, and gain insights into the seasonal lifestyles of the South Island Maori. There are lots to unpack here, so give yourself at least one hour.
Location: Palmerston Street
3. Walk the Long Hilly Walkway Track
The Long Hilly Walkway (pronounced Long Hee-Lee) is a 2-hour forest walk featuring relics of its gold mining past. See dams, water races, sluicings and tram cuttings paving the trail. The walk is located on Round Hill, one of Southland’s most significant goldfields, which is also part of the Te Araroa Trail (a trail spanning from the north to the south of New Zealand).
Location: Round Hill Road, 17km west of Riverton
4. Treat Yourself at the Riverton Cafes
Even if you don’t have time to stay in Riverton awhile, at least make a pitstop at one of the glorious cafes of this small town. Try the award-winning Beach House Restaurant serving fabulous coffee and fresh local food. Or try the famous Custard Square from The Postmaster Bakery!
Location: Beach House – 126 Rocks Highway & The Postmaster Bakery – 166 Palmerston Street
5. Discover Howells Point
This picturesque corner of the South Island is well worth venturing through Riverton. Watch waves crashing against the rocks as you take a walkway along the coast. If you don’t feel like walking along the coastal trail at the end of Rocks Highway, then just enjoy the views while having a picnic at the picnic areas. On a clear day, you can even see as far as Stewart Island.
Location: Rocks Highway