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7 of the Best Things to Do in Bluff, Southland

7 of the Best Things to Do in Bluff, Southland

Bluff, nestled right at the bottom of the South Island, sits at the end of State Highway 1 (the main road through New Zealand). It’s a tiny port town with the main draw being its proximity to Stewart Island. There are a few fun things to do in Bluff though, including awesome views from Bluff Hill and the chance to try Bluff Oysters.

Stirling Point

Stirling Point marks the end of State Highway 1, and for a lot of people this is as far south as they’ll get on the South Island. The southern-most spot is Slope Point, around an hour away in the Catlins.

There’s quite a bit to see at Stirling Point, including a lighthouse, a famous sign, an infamous restaurant and walking tracks which take you along the coast and up to Bluff Hill Lookout. There are also shorter walks around this area — a good place to explore if you’re after some lowkey hiking.

Bluff Hill

Drive (or walk) up to the top of Bluff Hill for one of the best views in the Southland region. You’ll see Bluff, Tiwai Point and Foveaux Straight (as well as Stewart Island if it’s clear) and it’s a quick and easy place to visit. 

Ship Graveyard

The Greenpoint Track takes you along the coast to an area known as the Ship Graveyard. There you can see several wrecked ships — a few mostly intact ones and several that are little more than posts sticking out of the water. It should only take 30 minutes to do this walk.

Omaui Beach

Omaui Beach is a 15-minute drive from downtown Bluff and is well worth a look if you’re a fan of beach walks. The dunes backing Omaui Beach are fun to explore and there’s lots of room to walk on the beach (as well as a track above it).

Oreti Beach, one of the longest beaches in the South Island, is just across New River Estuary.

Other Walks in Bluff

There are several tracks in the Stirling Point / Bluff Hill area, or you could walk from town along the coast to Stirling Point. There’s also a walk up the hill behind Omaui Beach.

Try Bluff Oysters

I’m pretty sure I tried Bluff Oysters when I was a kid and hated them — I guess you need a more refined palette for food like that. The last time we were in Bluff we tried to find some but no one had them. You can find them in some other places around the South Island in season (March – August).

Catch a Boat to Stewart Island

Ferries leave Bluff for Stewart Island, crossing the treacherous Foveaux Straight and taking around an hour. I vaguely remember doing it when I was a kid and it was rough — I was scared of water back then and boat trips like this can’t have helped!

You can also fly, with scenic, 20-minute flights leaving from Invercargill. Once on Stewart Island you can explore the tiny village of Oban, do some hiking or visit Ulva Island. You can easily visit on a day trip but try and stay a night or more if you can.

READ MORE: 17 of the Best Things to Do on Stewart Island

17 of the best things to do on Stewart Island, New Zealand

Other Things to Do in Bluff

You can do shark cage diving, fishing trips (or fish at the marina) or play a round of golf. There’s also a museum in town (Bluff Maritime Museum). You’re also a short drive from Invercargill, by far the biggest settlement in Southland.

Where to Eat

Oyster Cove has a special place in New Zealand history thanks to the infamous Bluff Wedding. It’s something those stuck in New Zealand during the early Covid times will remember well! The restaurant is awesome — great views and we enjoyed the food — the perfect spot for a wedding (just not in March 2020). There are a few other places to eat in the town centre, and if you visit in May 2024 you might catch the Bluff Oyster and Food Festival.

Are you planning a trip to New Zealand? Did I convince you to visit Bluff? Let us know in the comments below!

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Jon Algie

I'm a South Island local -- born in Timaru and raised in Dunedin. I left the island in 2006 and returned 10 years later. Having seen a good chunk of the world I realised how special this place is -- the most beautiful island in the world! Seven years (and almost 400 posts) later I'm still helping locals and tourists alike plan their trips around the South Island.