What’s so great about Southland anyway?

14 March 2017 > General,

We want to showcase the places where we (the Focus team) live, sharing what we love most about our regions, the best places to eat, drink, fish, shop, walk, bike or whatever. This time…. Southland.

While the rest of the country sometimes (or frequently) ponders, “why do people live there?” Those who choose to make Southland their home, know the true beauty of this region. We may not do weather right all the time, we may roll our r’s in a way that weirds out the rest of the country, and we may not have all the glitz and glam of big city-living, but we sure do have plenty of things to rave about. 

As you may know we have two branches in Southland. One in Invercargill and one in Gore. While some of our team are born and bred Southlanders, we have a number of staff that came to (or back to) Southland for the quieter, and we think better, life.

Below are some real quotes from our team about why they love living here so much.

“The people, the country side, the lack of Auckland traffic.”

 “I love the pace of Invercargill; life takes precedence over work but people are often happy to work hard.”

“I love the fact that pretty much anything my family and I like to do is only about 1 ½ hours maximum from the front door! Holiday house in Te Anau, hunting, surfing, kids sports.”

 “Parking directly outside of where you want to go.”

“Cheap living.”

“I love that we are underrated; our houses, incomes, technology, schooling, lifestyles.”

 “Airs and graces are often a waste of time down here. Honesty and fairness is highly prized and everyone is expected to be able to handle the jandal.” 

“Central to places like Queenstown and Dunedin.”

“The Southland Coast and everything in between! From the Catlins all the way through to the Sounds.”

As you can probably tell, we all love living in the Deep South. While others might not think so, we think we live in a pretty cool part of the country, there are heaps of outdoor activities to do, lots of places to eat and drink, exercise, camp, or just see some truly unique sights. Our team have sent through all the things they love to do or places they enjoy going to that even some of the locals might not know about – but they are definitely worth checking out.


Lumsden Bafé
If you’re someone who enjoys a stop at Lumsden for a half way to Queenstown break, then you will need to make sure you stop at the Bafé (Bakery/Café = Bafé) for one of their famous donuts. They are mouth-watering.

Fat Bastard Pies
From the guy that brought us the best Fish’n’Chips (Salt & Batter) in Invercargill, comes Fat Bastard Pies – the best pie in the region. You simply can’t pass up the chance to try one of these beauties. Fat Bastard’s are a usual lunch stop for our team.

Mrs Clarkes
Mrs Clarkes is a great little café in the seaside town of Riverton. Definitely a must-go if you are in the area, or even if you’re not, Riverton is only a 30-minute drive from the centre of Invercargill; why not make a mini road trip out of it?

My Darling Daisy 
This cute café/art gallery that is hidden away in Otatara, and  is a great place to go if you are looking for an extra delicious treat. With amazing sweet creations, and fabulous savoury options, you can’t go past My Darling Daisy as your venue for a special occasion. The one catch is that it’s only open on Sundays from 12pm to 4.30pm.

Batch Café
These guys are in a super handy location for us at Focus; right across the road. The bacon and cheese scones or caramel slice are always a favourite here. The Batch is also the home of one of the best coffees in town (or so we think).

Café La Dolce Vita
THE best Italian restaurant in the South, Café La Dolce Vita is located in central Te Anau and is a definite dinner destination when you are in the area. It comes highly recommended from the food snobs in our midst.

The Hideaway 201
A recent discovery as a place to simply go for a drink on a Friday rather than just a beautiful venue for an event. The Hideaway offers happy hour on a Friday along with the most delicious (and complimentary) appetisers. Only 20 minutes from town, why not head out there for a half price drink and some nibbles after a hectic week. With an outdoor fire, it’s even the perfect place to go and warm up in winter.

Global Byte
If you love coffee, you’ll love the coffee at Global Byte. With the beans being locally roasted, make sure you head in and ask for a Viking Roast coffee; you won’t be sorry. Or you could always come and visit us for a coffee, as we only use Viking Roast coffee beans.


Like a bit of camping? So do Southlanders, when we can find the right weather for it, of course. There are a huge number of great spots to pick from when thinking about going camping. First you need to pick the direction you want to head in, then you can sort through the variety of camping spots. Favourites from our team include staying at Curio Bay or Pounawea, or heading to Lake Mavora, or Te Anau or Manapouri.

Biking Tracks
You may know that we love to bike, we even have our own lunchtime “cycling gang”. But aside from the lunchtime bike rides, there are so many other cycling options like road cycling, biking on packed tracks or through sand dunes or forest; you can do all of this right here in little old Southland. Pro tip: head to Sandy Point and try out the mountain bike tracks; you can pick what level you are and follow the signs to pick what track suits you best.

Walking Tracks
Who doesn’t love a stroll in nature? Add in a huge number of stairs and you’ve got the Daffodil Bay walking track. If you prefer walking directly uphill without the aid of stairs, then head out to the Forest Hill Reserve where you can wander (or stagger) through bush and limestone boulders; a very nice walk. Or even better, head north to Gore and visit Dolamore Park where you can complete a few different bush walks at a range of fitness levels.

McLean Falls
If you’re in the Caitlins, the McLean Falls are definitely worth the 15 minute walk in to see. A lovely bush walk and a little climb at the end, this pleasant walk can easily be done in jandals – a great photo opportunity.

Fishing Spots
If you’re an avid fisher like many of our team, Southland is the place for you. From spear fishing and free diving for Paua at Stewart Island, to surf casting for fish at Waiau River mouth, or simply heading to your closest river, lake or sea. Want to know a great spot? Just ask one of the guys on our team and they’ll be able to tell you their favourite spot.

Swimming with Dolphins
Did you know you can do this in Southland? Swimming alongside dolphins is something people all over the world seek to do. And, down here, we are lucky enough that it isn’t too far from us. Head to Colac Bay for the experience of a lifetime. Just remember to bring your wetsuit – the water will be chilly.


Bluff Oyster Festival 
Now this is a fun event - The famous Bluff Oyster Festival, held every year in May. Their slogan “unsophisticated and proud of it” is a true representation of the event. With a huge range of food stalls so you can pick and choose from a variety of seafood options (as well as non-seafood options, but who’s really there for that?). There is plenty of entertainment on the main stage, oyster shucking competitions, cooking shows, coffee stalls and a bar, plus more. This is a super popular event, which has been known to sell out well before the day so book your tickets early! Look out for Kelvin in the Barnes stall.

Burt Munro
Usually held in November, this event has finally been moved to February due to the past couple of years having to cancel events due to terrible weather. Although this has never deterred attendees, who I’m sure think it’s just part of the fun, it will be nice to finally be able to show off beautiful, sunny Southland. This event brings thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts to our region for a weekend of racing, competitions, and generally just a great time.

Southland Buskers Festival
The annual Southland Buskers Festival features a fantastic line up of international and national street and circus performers. A wide variety of performance styles appear from the high skilled circus tricks to juggling, stunts and comedy-- all the things that make this festival so fun to attend. Performance sites include Wachner Place, Queen’s Park, Farmers’ Market, South City and the Scottish Hall.


Bill Richardson’s Transport World
Are you a fan of cars, trucks, buses, or even Goodbye Pork Pie? Even if this isn’t you, a tour around Transport World is a great way to spend an afternoon. With some great, interactive exhibits, photo opportunities, AND a cinema, you can easily spend 2-3 hours inside. And better yet, if you feel like you need a mid-way break, just head to The Grille café next door for a delicious coffee and piece of cake. Then go back to where you left and continue the tour. Transport World is a great place to take kids; with an interactive Lego room in the museum itself, and a fun playroom in the café, it is definitely a fun way to spend the afternoon.

Queen’s Park
Queen’s Park is beautiful. Right from Feldwick Gates, all the way through to the many walking tracks, duck pond, playground, wildlife reserve, botanical gardens, aviary, or golf course. The tracks are wide enough for biking, running or walking with friends – so get outside and enjoy this beautiful piece of paradise right in the centre of town. Queen’s Park is a favourite spot for lunchtime walks or runs – we are lucky enough to only be a few blocks away.


Being the competitive folk that we are when it comes to sport, we have some fantastic sporting competitions between companies in Southland.

Corporate Rowing
This is such a fun competition – and a great way to try something new. There are two events as part of this one competition; the indoor rowing race (completed on rowing machines at Hargest) and the outdoor rowing event (either in 4s or 8s). Nothing like a bit of company rivalry like yelling at a co-worker to “ROW FASTER” or “GO, GO, GO”. Give it a try this year – the outdoor event is held in November.

Corporate Cycling 
Another great competition between businesses, AND a way to try out the Velodrome at Stadium Southland. Get into a team of 4 and enter yourself in this event. Held in the middle of Winter, it’s a great way to beat the cold and stay fit even when it’s chilly out.

Well, you’ve heard it directly from our team – we love living in Southland. We all have a bunch of different reasons for making this region our home, but what we do have in common is that we are proud to be Southlanders; but with so many great things to do and see, how could we not be?

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