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6 of the Best Things to Do in Riverton, Southland

6 of the Best Things to Do in Riverton, Southland

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.

Things to do in Riverton, Southland, New Zealand -- Riverton Rocks

The Bays

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.

Mtchells Bay, Riverton, New Zealand

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).

Things to do in Riverton, Southland -- coastal strollsBeach in Riverton, Southland, New Zealand

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.

Riverton Beachside Restaurant, Southland, New Zealand

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.

Howells Point, Riverton, New ZealandBack Beach view, Riverton, New ZealandBack Beach, Riverton, New Zealand

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.

Mores Scenic Reserve, Riverton, New Zealand

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).

Best things to do in Riverton, Southland, New Zealand -- Mores Scenic ReserveColac Bay from above, Southland, New Zealand

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.

Colac Bay, Southland, New Zealand

Monkey Island is a little further past Colac Bay and is a good choice if you’re freedom camping. Cosy Nook is also worth checking out if you’re exploring the area.

Monkey Island, Southland, New Zealand

Then you’ve got Gemstone Beach and McCracken’s Rest before the road turns inland towards Tuatapere and then Te Anau.

McCrackens Rest, Southland, New Zealand

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).

Best things to do in Riverton, Southland, New Zealand

Getting There

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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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.

Marilyn Vickers

Friday 14th of July 2023

My daughter sent me this I now live I. Australia been here in Queensland for 22yrs I was born in Chch lived from 6 months onwards in invercargill Then Edendale In 1966 moved to Gore I Had 3 children while married and living in Gore As a teenager in invercargill my parents had a old bus we used to take it to Riverton I enjoyed the skating rink near the WFFDcamping ground With my kids we went went toRiverton to the same camping ground in the late 70s early 80s It was a great place for the kids with the Carnival over the Xmas time at the Soundshell Kids loved it the beaches were great We went night Flounder catching at the mouth of the river Walked to the back beach Great part of Southland I went thru there on a trip home in 2016

Jon Algie

Thursday 20th of July 2023

Thanks for the comment Marilyn, must have been a great place to grow up, so many cool places to see nearby!

Ray James

Saturday 8th of July 2023

Definitely agree that Riverton is a beautiful place to visit. I grew up in Invercargill and just loved visiting Riverton where my ancestors arrived from Cornwall in 1864.Great place for family holidays or short visits on sunny day topped of with an ice cream. Would have to be one of the most scenic places in the world. Ray James, Dunedin.

Jon Algie

Wednesday 12th of July 2023

Thanks for the comment Ray, sounds like some great memories!

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