Free Things to Do in Invercargill (and a Few Cheap Things Too)
Discover the secrets of the world’s southernmost city. Does it get any more enticing than that? Southland is known for its quirky farm towns, which has Invercargill, a city of Scottish heritage, as its main hub. The quirkiness reflects in the architecture of the city, as well as the local attractions of oversized car collections and, literally, junk from a demolition site. Just having a wander around the city is a free yet interesting thing to do. We have all the best points of interest and free things to do in Invercargill in this listicle.
There are heaps of walks across long-stretching beaches, dunes, boardwalks and lagoons to add to the free things to do in Invercargill list. Alternatively, explore by bike in this extremely flat city providing an easy-breezy ride. You can even find a mountain bike park to test your skills.
So read on to find the free things to do in Invercargill (or at least pretty cheap)! And for some paid options if you have some budget to spare, check out the 10 Invercargill Must-Dos.
1. Wander Around Demolition World – CHEAP
Is this village a stroke of genius or just a bit creepy? You decide. The most popular demolition company of Southland has a secret: a small village created out of their scavengers’ treasures. It is a great way to revisit the past of a remote region. The displays are so unique, in fact, that it has been featured in films, TV shows and magazines all over the world. Demolition World is definitely worthy of a spot on our list of free and cheap things to do in Invercargill. Entry is a gold coin donation.
Location: 290 Bain Street, approximately 6km (4 miles) from Invercargill city centre.
2. Explore Queens Park – FREE
The huge park covers over 30 hectares (80 acres) of Invercargill city centre. Queens Park is surrounded by the city’s most popular landmarks like the Water Tower, Burt Munro statue and more. Many flower gardens add a touch of colour to the native bush walkways. The winter garden features exotic plants, the Japanese garden takes you back to the Northern Hemisphere, and the rock garden is a curiosity of its own.
Location: Multiple access points along Queens Drive, Gala Street, Kelvin Street, Park Street and Victoria Avenue, approximately 1km (0.6 miles) from Invercargill city centre.
3. Visit the Water Tower – FREE
The 40-metre (131-foot) high tower is one of the most prominent landmarks in the city. This stunning Victorian brick building may only be used as a backup water tower to the city, but it is still mainly a tourist attraction. Take the time to walk around the tower and admire what 300,000 bricks can build.
Location: Water Tower Reserve, off Gala Street, Doon Street and Queens Drive, approximately 1.5km (1 mile) from Invercargill city centre.
4. Admire the Art at He Waka Tuia + Museum – FREE
Invercargill city centre is home to a fantastic art gallery which will give you something to do while the rain is pouring. The He Waka Tuia Art + Museum showcases a permanent collection of works from well-known New Zealand artists. Alongside paintings, you’re likely to see a number of carvings, ceramics, sculptures and mixed-media pieces. What’s more, admission is free! See more indoor attractions like this in the 14 Things to Do in Invercargill on a Rainy Day.
Location: 42 Kelvin Street, Invercargill city centre.
5. Get the Perfect Picture of the Victoria Railway Hotel – FREE
The Victoria Railway Hotel is one of the oldest running hotels in New Zealand. The building features elements from many styles of architecture, including Victorian and Baroque. It is simply a stunning piece of architecture, reminiscent of the famous Dunedin Railway Station. Although it might not be the cheapest hotel to stay on a tight budget, a quick photo and then staying in one of the more affordable 8 Best Budget Accommodations in Invercargill or 5 Best Backpacker Hostels in Invercargill is how most budget travellers do it.
Location: 3 Leven Street, Invercargill city centre.
6. Spend an Afternoon in Oreti Beach – FREE
Named after the Oreti River, the long flat beach seems almost endless, stretching as far as the eyes can see. For those in need of a challenge, try the Oreti Beach Track. This 32km (20-mile) track takes in streams, dunes and a low tide beach before ending on Stead Street. We also list this activity in the 10 Things to Do in Invercargill with Kids.
Location: Access at the end of Dunns Road and Foveux Street, approximately 10km (6 miles) from Invercargill city centre.
7. See a Free Motorworks Collection at E Hayes & Sons – FREE
Before we move onto the paid motor vehicle collections of Invercargill, of which there are a couple more, let us guide you to the free one! E Hayes & Sons might look like a humble hardware store and gift shop from the outside but inside hides an impressive collection of vintage vehicles, including the legendary and authentic Burt Muro’s 1920 Indian Scout.
Location: 168 Dee Street, Invercargill city centre.
8. See the Southern Hemisphere’s Largest Vehicle Collection at Transport World – CHEAP
Moving onto more petrol-head goodness, it’s hard not to be impressed by the Southern Hemisphere’s largest collection of vehicles. See some blasts from the past beautifully restored and put on display in Bill Richardson’s Transport World, as well as heritage memorabilia from Invercargill’s past, and a World of Wearable Art (WOW) exhibition. After you’ve spent at least an hour or two discovering it all in this 15,000m² (161,459ft²) venue, relax at the on-site American-style diner. Here’s an extra tip: even the toilets are worth a look. Admission is approximately NZ$35 per adult and NZ$20 per child. Combo passes are available for a cheaper admission price if you visit Classic Motorcycle Mecca (listed below).
9. Then Check Out NZ’s Largest Motorcycle Collection – CHEAP
And if the largest collection of vehicles in the Southern Hemisphere wasn’t enough, there’s also a classic motorcycle museum in the centre of Invercargill! Classic Motorcycle Mecca is the largest collection of motorcycles in New Zealand, boasting collections of John Britten and Ivan Mauger bikes, as well as a whole range of American, British, Japanese and European bikes. There’s also an on-site cafe and a motorcycle-themed art gallery. Admission is around NZ$35 per adult and NZ$20 per child. Check out reviews and book tickets on Viator and Tripadvisor.
Location: 25 Tay Street, Invercargill city centre.
10. Walk or Cycle at Sandy Point – FREE
The popular biking and hiking spot is only a few minutes away from the city. Don’t be fooled by its “beachy” name, Sandy Point is a thick pine forest that features mostly grade 3 mountain biking tracks. Find out more about the bike trails in our guide, Mountain Biking in Southland, while the walking trails feature in the 10 Best Walks in Invercargill.
Location: Sandy Point Domain Visitor Centre – Sandy Point Road, approximately 8km (5 miles) from Invercargill city centre.
11. Walk the Estuary Walkway – FREE
The 1-hour return Estuary Walkway is the best way to discover the aptly named, Pleasure Bay Lagoon. Harbouring many local birds and featuring a rich human history, this 4.7km (3-mile) track has several interesting things to see and read about on interpretation panels. Plus, with the lagoon on one side and the sea on the other, you’ll get a unique point of view of the city.
Location: Eastern end of Stead Street, approximately 1.5km (1 mile) from Invercargill city centre.
12. Try a Famous Southland Cheese Roll – CHEAP
Invercargill has a wealth of fantastic eateries where there should be one famous New Zealand food on your “to-try” list: a Southland cheese roll. Most cafes in Invercargill serve this speciality of the southern South Island, such as The Batch Cafe and The Cheeky Llama Cafe. A cheese roll will only set you back NZ$2.50-$5, so trying one is definitely a cheap thing to do in Invercargill. See more affordable dining experiences in The Top Cheap Eats in Invercargill.
Location: The Batch Cafe – 173 Spey Street. The Cheeky Llama Cafe – 216 Queens Drive.
13. Unwind in the Otepuni Gardens – FREE
Along the small Otepuni Stream you will found a peaceful park. The extremely polished garden stretches across both sides of the stream an offer tranquil picnic spots for those who want to forget that they are in a city. For more cute places to go for a stroll, check out the 7 Romantic Activities in Invercargill for Couples.
Location: Multiple access points along Tyne Street, Forth Street, Conon Street and Ythan Street, approximately 1km (0.6 miles) from Invercargill city centre.
14. Try Some Seriously Good Chocolate – CHEAP
If you have a sweet tooth, make your cheap experience one trying sweet treats at The Seriously Good Chocolate Company. The artisan chocolate manufacturer makes all the chocolate sold here on-site, where there is a wide array of chocolates to make your own selection box. They also serve up some of the naughtiest hot chocolates in the country!
Location: 147 Spey Street, Invercargill city centre.
15. Bike the Invercargill Heritage Trail – FREE
There’s plenty of biking to be had in Invercargill (and Southland in general so be sure to read Mountain Biking in Southland). Pick up a Heritage Trail map from your local i-SITE and bike to 18 points of interest that will help you discover the rich history of the area. You will get to visit most of the points on this listicle and more.
Location: Start anywhere.
[CLOSED] Visit the Southland Museum – FREE
The pyramid-shaped museum houses the best of Southland’s art. The natural history exhibition retraces the wildlife evolution from Jurassic to modern species, the highlight being the tuatara described as the “living dinosaur”. You can see New Zealand’s oldest tuatara right here in the Southland Museum. For a bit of social history, the Maori Gallery has a wealth of artefacts incredibly well carved to tell local Maori legends.
Location: Gala Street
Now You Have Found Some Free Things to Do in Invercargill …
… Check out more fun things to do in and around Invercargill, as well as find tips to help stick to your budget.
- The Guide to Invercargill on a Budget
- 8 Best Budget Accommodations in Invercargill
- The Complete Travel Guide to Invercargill
That’s it for our list of cheap and free things to do in Invercargill. For more free stuff, check out the 50 Best Free Things to Do in New Zealand.