Nestled between Invercargill city and its airport lies a picturesque walking trail that offers one of the most beautiful experiences in Southland.
Covering a distance of 4.7 kilometres, the loop track begins at the historic Stead Street Wharf, a once-busy port that now serves as the club rooms for the Jellicoe Sea Scouts.
As you approach the wharf, you’ll notice a fascinating sight of old boats that have been transformed into play areas for kids, adding to the charm of the area.
A series of informative signs have been placed around the wharf, giving visitors a glimpse into the rich history of the region. One such sign highlights the period when the estuary was a popular swimming spot for locals, though it’s not recommended now.
The wharf also boasts a large parking area, providing ample space for visitors to conveniently park their cars at the beginning of trail.
The track can also be accessed from different entry points, including one at the back of Invercargill City Hospital.
The trail itself is made from gravel and is relatively flat, making it an ideal spot for cycling and families to enjoy.
You’ll also find many friendly locals walking their dogs, too.
Like the wharf, the track has various information points that showcase historical images and provide interesting information about the area. Along the way, you’ll also find rest areas and shelters to take a break and enjoy the surroundings.
As you reach the halfway point of the loop, walkers have the option to continue onto Bluff as part of the Alps to Ocean track or take the boardwalk section of the trail. The boardwalk has been named after Roger Sutton, who dedicated his life to the conservation and protection of the area. Sutton was a pioneer in controlling the invasive Spartina grass that was taking over the estuary and made significant contributions towards restoring the native wildlife.
The boardwalk is a trail highlight and makes for a perfect photo spot. At high tide, the water rises to the bottom of the boardwalk, and the local swans and ducks often enjoy swimming here.
The rich history and the friendly locals who frequent the area create an experience that makes this walk something extra special as well as being an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city and a place to immerse yourself in the area’s natural beauty. This trail is a hidden gem that you won’t want to miss out on!
Access: Access and car parking is off Stead Street Wharf and Bond Street.
Distance: 4.7km loop track.
Difficulty: Grade 2 – Easy trail.