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5 Best Things to Do in Tapanui

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What to Do in Tapanui: South Otago’s Friendly Rural Town

Located in the Tapanui Crater, an impact that is believed to have occurred in 1200CE, Tapanui is a town worth exploring for stunning landscapes away from the crowds. It’s a hiker’s paradise off the beaten trail featuring waterfall walks, bush walks and mountain hikes. The town itself was founded as a sawmilling town in the 1860s and keeps much of its heritage through its historic buildings and museum. Find out what to do at this hidden gem of South Otago in this list of things to do in Tapanui.

While you’re here, you might be interested in 6 Fun Things to Do in Lawrence and 5 Gore Must-Dos.

1. Walk to Waterfalls in Whisky Gully

Immerse yourself in nature at Whisky Gully. This unspoiled native forest features two fantastic short walks. Choose either the Whisky Track for an easy-going 15-minute loop walk or venture on the 2-hour return Waterfall Track. This is a rough track following a gentle stream to the picturesque Whisky Falls.

Location: Whisky Gully Road, 4km southeast of Tapanui

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2. Check Out the Black Gully Domain

For a real hidden gem at the northern end of the Blue Mountains, the Black Gully Domain. It offers affordable powered sites for campervans, a rustic children’s playground and the feeling of being in the middle of nowhere. There are two walks starting here too, the Black Gully Track (5 hours return) and Blue Mountain Tops (6 hours).

Location: Black Gully Road East, 10km northeast of Tapanui

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3. Hike the Blue Mountain Walk

For a true hiking experience and to escape from it all, do the Blue Mountains Walk. The hike takes approximately 6-8 hours to complete, taking you over the ridgetops of the Blue Mountains and offering spectacular views of the countryside. Needless to say, the hike is steep and a good fitness level is required. Be prepared for changing weather. Huts are available at Black Gully.

Location: Whisky Gully Road, 4km southeast of Tapanui or Black Gully Road East, 10km northeast of Tapanui

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4. Visit the West Otago Museum

See a vast collection of vintage tractors at the West Otago Museum. The tractors featured were made from 1913 to the 1950s, all of which are in working order! Additionally, the museum houses interesting domestic items from the 1880s, including early butter churns, hand-powered washing machines and relics from a former hospital. For more museums in the area, see 6 Best Museums in Clutha & The Catlins.

Location: 59 Northumberland Street

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5. Play Golf

Tapanui and its surrounds have plenty to offer keen and casual golfers alike. Have a hit at the scenic Tapanui Golf Club. The 18-hole golf course features tree-lined fairways with mountain views on all sides. Alternatively, enjoy a short game at the 9-hole Heriot Golf Club. Check out more golf courses in 21 Best Golf Courses in New Zealand.

Location: Tapanui Golf Club – 67 Tapanui-Raes Junction Highway & Heriot Golf Club – Moncurs Road, Heriot.

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More Things to Do Near Tapanui

That’s it for the best things to do in Tapanui. Find more activities for your travels in the 51 Best Things to Do in the South Island.


Laura S.

This article was reviewed and published by Laura, editor in chief and co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. Since arriving solo in New Zealand over 10 years ago and with a background in journalism, her mission has been to show the world how easy (and awesome) it is to travel New Zealand. She knows Aotearoa inside-out and loves sharing tips on how best to experience New Zealand’s must-dos and hidden gems. Laura is also editor of several other South Pacific travel guides and is the co-host of NZ Pocket Guide’s live New Zealand travel Q&As on YouTube.

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