A gateway to some of New Zealand’s most spectacular wilderness scenery and outdoor adventure, the country town of Tuatapere is 88km west of Invercargill. On the Southern Scenic Route, Tuatapere is an ideal base from which to explore the surrounding forests, beaches, lakes, historic sites and world heritage area.
At its backdoor step is New Zealand’s newest walking track, the Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track, a 53 kilometre circuit that passes through world famous Waitutu coastal marine terraces, ancient podocarp beech forest and spectacular sandstone outcrops. Information on the Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track is available at www.humpridgetrack.co.nz
Built on the majestic Waiau River, the Tuatapere area is steeped in early New Zealand history. Captain Cook first visited Southern Fiordland in 1770, anchoring for supplies in Dusky Sound. At the turn of the century, sawmills and flaxmills operated in the region – up to 30 at its peak. Today, forestry and farming still remain key industries.
Visitors to the area can enjoy a range of activities – freedom walking opportunities, kayaking, fishing and deer hunting – all set upon a backdrop of spectacular scenery and unique local history.
Regional attractions include:
Dusky Track and Waitutu Tracks
Dusky Track, an 84km track, links Lake Hauroko with Lake Manapouri and includes a two-day detour to Supper Cove in Dusky Sound. The Waitutu Tracks begin at Bluecliffs Beach and extend to Big River at the edge of the Fiordland National Park.
Lakes Hauroko and Monowai
New Zealand’s deepest lake, Lake Hauroko offers visitors the opportunity for kayaking, fishing and access to the Dusky Track and Wairaurahiri River. Lake Monowai is well known for its excellent fishing and hunting. The Monowai Power Station opened in 1925 and is one of New Zealand’s oldest power stations.
New Zealand’s largest sawmill in the 1920s, Port Craig sawmill was famous for its use of the Lidgerwood steam hauler, the largest to be used in the New Zealand bush.
Percy Burn Viaduct
The Percy Burn Viaduct is the largest surviving wooden viaduct in the world. The viaduct is one of the Port Craig viaducts built of Australian hardwood in the early 1920s to open up the western Southland forests to logging. The viaducts are recognized as one of New Zealand’s foremost engineering feats and are part of an historic and unique bushwalk.
A glimpse of Tuatapere’s rich history, the museum is a comprehensive photographic record of early milling operations and includes a static display of milling equipment.
Bluecliffs Beach and Te Waewae Bay
Visitors enjoy the majesty of Te Waewae Bay – nothing lies between it and Antarctica. Dolphins and whales frequently swim at Bluecliffs Beach.
Other local attractions include Orepuki and its gemstone beach, Monkey Island, Cosy Nook, the big Totara tree in the Dean Forest, the Clifden historic bridge and limestone caves, and the Solander Islands (seen on a clear day from the Southern Scenic Route).