The southern coastline between Invercargill and Tuatapere is an underrated part of the South Island. Riverton is our favourite spot along that scenic section of road, with its beaches, viewpoints and small-town atmosphere making it a great place to explore. Looking for the best things to do in Riverton? You’re in luck!
Riverton Rocks Beach
There are several beach areas in Riverton, and the Riverton Rocks / Taramea Bay area is the first you’ll come to. There’s a playground there as well as access to the beach and river. Climb the small hill for a good view of the beach.
Keep driving a little further and you’ll reach the nicer sections of beach in Riverton. There are several small bays (Taramea Bay, Mitchells Bay and Hendersons Bay) connected by a road / coastal paths. You’ll get some nice views from above and the beach is perfect for a long walk.
While exploring the area we noticed a woman sitting in her car looking out into the bay. She mentioned she saw dolphins and pointed them out — so cool to see them so close to shore (hard to get good photos though).
Eat by the Beach
There’s one café in the Mitchells Bay area and it’s a great one to visit. Riverton Beachhouse Restaurant has outdoor seating with stunning views of the bay — surely the most relaxing way to spend an hour or two on a sunny day in Riverton.
Howells Point Scenic Reserve
Howells Point Scenic Reserve is a few kilometres along the main road (Rocks Highway). There’s a beach right by the car park, but walk up to the viewpoint and you’ll see an awesome view over Back Beach — so green and wild for a place that seems almost entirely surrounded by farmland. There’s also a short track leading to Back Beach — another good place for a stroll.
Mores Scenic Reserve
The other viewpoint you should visit in Riverton is at Mores Scenic Reserve. Drive up to the car park and you’ll get a good view towards Riverton and the coastline beyond. Walk up to the hilltop viewpoint and it gets even better.
The views at Mores Scenic Reserve sum up Riverton perfectly — you’ve got the town, the Pourakino River, the interesting coastline and the farmland surrounding it all. You can also see towards Colac Bay — you can walk there from Mores Scenic Reserve (part of the Te Araroa Trail).
Colac Bay and Beyond
Colac Bay is a small seaside settlement 10-minutes’ drive from Riverton. It could be a good spot to stay if you find accommodation, or you could go there for a meal at the pub. Tihaka Beach is at the eastern end — it’s basically the same beach though.
Other Things to Do in Riverton
You can go fishing, play golf, do the day walk from Mores Scenic Reserve to Colac Bay or visit the museum / visitor centre on the main street. There’s a whale statue near the playground at Taramea Bay and also a big pāua shell in the town centre (we planned to visit but forgot about it — found plenty of actual pāua shells at Back Beach though).
Riverton is around 40 minutes’ drive from Invercargill. You’d think it’d be a scenic drive but it isn’t — it’s pretty much inland all the way to Riverton. If coming from Te Anau it should take around two hours, with plenty of places to stop along the way potentially adding time to the journey.
Are you planning a trip to New Zealand? Check out our two-week South Island itinerary!
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