“A drinking town with a fishing problem!”

Bluff - Sunrise

An Alaskan woman guest who worked in the fishing industry in Alaska in a small seaport described her home town this way and seeing all our hotels and drinking spots laughingly said maybe it once described Buff. (You can make your own mind up.)


Packed with fascinating history, Bluff is the oldest town in NZ still existing on its original site – and Bluff Lodge is housed in one of New Zealand’s earliest post offices. Travellers can discover the history of Bluff with a stroll around the Bluff Heritage Trail and at the renowned Maritime Museum. Sir Joseph Ward is probably the most famous ‘Bluffie’. He held many top political positions in a career that spanned 1878 to 1930, including Prime Minister of New Zealand – twice! Sir Joseph Ward did a lot for Southland and Bluff – he’s the person responsible for my lovely building being built in 1899.


The hill of Bluff is a significant landmark in Southland. You can spot it from miles around, on land and at sea. Don’t miss a visit to Stirling Point. Marking the beginning of State Highway One (which runs all the way to Cape Reinga at the top of the North Island), it’s home to the famous signpost which may point to your home city. A symbolic chain links us to Stewart Island. At the top of Bluff Hill, the walk to the viewing platform is worthwhile on a clear day – the 360-degree views are quite stunning. Surrounding landmarks are identified on brass plates. If it’s a windy day, hold onto your hat or it will be in Chile before you can drive back down to the township! Tiwai Smelter dominates the northerly aspect of the harbour and the lights at night are picturesque. Bluff is a busy working port and you’ll see large cargo ships coming and going as well as oyster and fishing fleets tied up at the wharves or out on the water.

Fiordland crested PenguinBluff Oyster Festival

Bluff is famous for its oysters, so if you’re visiting Bluff in May then the annual Bluff Oyster Festival is a must-see! The oyster season starts in March/April and goes through until the quotas are caught (usually July/August). It’s almost impossible to get a fresh Bluff oyster after this time, so the Bluff Oyster Festival is your golden opportunity to taste these famous delicacies from the sea. The new permanent venue is a credit to the initiative and energy of a small group of   volunteers particularly John Edminston.

See www.bluffoysterfest.co.nz to find out more.


Bluff offers a wide range of activities for visitors to experience. Explore the trails on Bluff Hill by mountain bike or put on your hiking shoes and walk through the native forest, enjoying great views along the way. Bluff also has a BMX track, skateboard park and golf course, plus rowing, yachting and bowling clubs. Bluff Swimming Pool is open Monday to Saturday from September to March. At Bluff you can also catch a ferry across to Stewart Island: New Zealand’s third-largest island offers superb hiking in Rakiura National Park, as well as opportunities to spot Kiwi and other native birds. Our local Marae is well worth a visit to understand our local Maori history.