Introduction to Bluff

Bluff > Introduction to Bluff

Bluff or Motupohue, has gone through a number of name changes in the past. The Europeans originally called it ''The Mount'' and later ''Old Mans Bluff'' (''old man'' in Celtic means High Rock). It was then shortened to ''The Bluff'' and in 1856 was renamed Campbelltown. It officially became known as Bluff on March 1, 1917. The Maori name, Motupohue means Island of Convolvulus, as Bluff looks like an island from the sea and there are many white convolvulus flowering here.


The Port of Bluff provides a vital link between the provincial hinterland and overseas markets. Petroleum, agri nutrients, alumina, coke and fish are imported, while dairy, meat, fish, woodchips, sawn timber and aluminium are among the products exported. South Port operates the port and has key shipping links throughout Asia, Australia and North America.


Bluff has plenty of accommodation, restaurants, dairies and service stations and is easily reached from Invercargill, where a regular bus service operates. Accommodation is in the form of a campground, backpackers, hotels and bed and breakfasts.


Bluff is also the gateway to Stewart Island, where a regular catamaran service and charter boats are available from Bluff Harbour. Charter boats can take you to great fishing, diving and sightseeing spots that only the locals know best.


The Annual Bluff Oyster and Southland Seafood Festival
The Bluff Oyster and Southland Seafood Festival is a celebration of the fresh succulent seafood unique to Southland. It allows locals and visitors to sample Southland''s famous Bluff Oysters and complement the delicacies with fine Central Otago Wines. There is plenty of entertainment in the form of bands and New Zealand celebrity appearances. Activities include Oyster Opening and Oyster Eating competitions, an Oyster Sack Fashion Parade, a seafood Chef Cook-Off and the not to be missed Southern Seas Ball.


Activities and Attractions
At Stirling Point, see the international signpost marking the start of State Highway 1 and take a walk through native forest to awesome views of Stewart Island and Foveaux Strait. This is where the Foveaux Walkway and Glory Track begin.


The viewing platform on the summit of Bluff Hill provides panoramic views of Southlands mountains, plains and estuaries to be admired and also has a number of walks to stretch your legs and appreciate the scenery and bird life.


For those interested in fishing, visit the Bluff Maritime Museum. Here you will discover how the oyster, whaling and muttonbirding fisheries developed, learn about the local shipwrecks, and you can inspect the oyster boat, Monica II, built in 1909, beside the museum. Email:


Taste Bluff''s world-famous oysters, a much sought after delicacy. They were first commercially caught in the late 1870s. Bluff also processes lobster, blue cod and green limp mussels caught around Stewart Island and in Foveaux Strait.


Visit the unique Paua Shell House, an amazing sight that can only be seen in Bluff.


Take a scenic bush drive at Omaui (originally a Maori village), where great picnic spots and beach walks abound.


Guided tours are available at Tiwai Aluminium Smelter opposite Bluff Harbour.


Be adventurous and go on a horse trek along Southland''s rugged coastline offering spectacular views of Bluff Harbour and across Foveaux Strait. You can also ride up Bluff Hill for breath-taking panoramic views.


Walks around Bluff
There are a number of walkways around Bluff boasting views of the coast and allowing you to get close to nature. Walks include the Foveaux Walkway, Glory Track, Millennium Track and Topuni Track. The Greenpoint walkway has many interesting geological features as well as taking you to Shipwreck Bay where many old boats of Bluff lie beached, dating back to the 1870s.


Enjoy Bluff''s half-day Heritage Trail providing insight into the development of the township and it''s maritime and military history. The trail commemorates Sir Joseph Ward, a politician who served as Mayor of Bluff twice and became Prime Minister from 1906-1912 and again from 1928-1930. Pick up a Heritage Trail booklet from the local Visitors Centre.


The Bluff Heritage Trail includes a number of features already mentioned such as the Greenpoint Walkway, the Oyster boat, Monica II, and Stirling Point, but also includes a number of other unique places sure to appeal to the historically-minded part of all of us.


Visit Greenhills Church built in 1886 and used as a classroom until 1889. The church was decommissioned in 2001 and is registered with the NZ Historic Places Trust.


See the statue of Sir Joseph Ward (1856-1930), a prominent figure in Bluff and New Zealand, and visit the J G Ward Store Building he bought and used to store wheat, grain and wool, which he would then export.


Bluff Cemetery is a fascinating stroll back through time as is visiting the 2 old villas on Foyle and Bann Streets, built around the 1870s. Other historical buildings include the old Post Office, Club Hotel, Bayview Hotel and the Old Town Wharf and Tide Gauge Building. The original wharf was built in 1863 with an eastern limb only. The west limb was added in 1872 and extended in 1876 to a total of 1613ft.


Military sites include the Memorial Grove, War Memorial on Marine Parade, Bluff Gunpit Coastal Defence Camp, built in 1942, and the Radar Station. The Radar Station was set up in 1940 to watch Foveaux Strait for any unusual movement. The radars were out of date when installed but upgraded in1941 and the Radar Station was closed in 1944.


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