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Gemstone Beach, Southland

Gemstone Beach, Southland

On the eastern shores of Te Wae Wae Bay sits a small section of sand called Gemstone Beach. It’s one of the most popular spots on the road between Invercargill and Te Anau (part of the Southern Scenic Route) and you can visit it in about 5 minutes if you want. Thinking of heading to Gemstone Beach? Keep reading for some tips and what you can see nearby.

Getting to Gemstone Beach

Gemstone Beach is located on the southern coastline of the South Island and is nestled between Monkey Island and McCracken’s Rest, both popular places to visit in Western Southland. You’ll see the sign pointing towards the turnoff, and it’s only a short drive from the main road. From Invercargill it should take around an hour (or 90 minutes from Te Anau).

Gemstone Beach

Gemstone Beach is right next to the car park, so if you’re in a hurry you can quickly go and check it out and be back in your car within minutes (which would be handy on a cold day, not uncommon in Southland). On a nice day you’ll want to have a look around though, and it’s a nice stretch of sand regardless of the gemstones.

And that brings us to the entire point of Gemstone Beach – the gems! I can’t say it was as good as I was expecting, but there were plenty of colourful stones in some areas (mostly near the stream). Apparently, you can find semi-precious stones like jasper, nephrite and maybe even sapphire – I guess you have to know what you’re looking for though.

There isn’t too much else to say about Gemstone Beach – it’s kind of an average bit of coastline if you take away the gems! Still though, you never really regret stopping at a beach for a few minutes, and it’s a very easy one to visit.

Views above Gemstone Beach

If you want to see an awesome view near Gemstone Beach, you can turnoff at Orepuki (just before the beach) and drive to a little picnic table on the cliffs above the beach. There’s a similar view at McCracken’s Rest though, so don’t stress if you miss it. There’s also a bar and a café in Orepuki if you’re searching for something to eat.

Things to See Nearby

The southern coast is full of places to explore, from a cute seaside village (Cosy Nook) to beaches (Colac Bay), islands (Monkey Island) and hikes (Humpridge Track, Lake Hauroko). If you want to spend the night you can stay at an Airbnb at one of the beaches or there are a couple of towns, Riverton and Tuatapere, where you can rest your head.

Are you planning a trip around New Zealand? Check out our South Island travel guide!

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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.