The Essentials

How To Get Here

Bluff is 30 kilometres south of Invercargill on State Highway 1. The nearest airport is in Invercargill.

It is the gateway to Stewart Island via a twice daily ferry service. A bus service to and from Bluff operates in conjunction with the ferry services.

Bluff is also part of the Southern Scenic Route so if you are following the route make sure you take the time to include Bluff on your trip.


Information Kiosk

When you visit Bluff you will see our information kiosk on the green belt on the left hand side of SH1 as you drive into the town. Take the time to stop and learn more about our area.


Bluff has a population of 1797 (NZ Census 2018)

The main industries in the town are fishing, engineering and tourism, while the town is home to the region’s port – operated by South Port NZ Ltd.


Please be aware that there are no ATM facilities in the town so if you are arriving outside of business hours and require cash you are best to access it in Invercargill before you make the short journey to Bluff. 

Stewart Island Ferry Service

Foreshore Road, Bluff
0800 000 511 or 03 212 7660
Fax: 03 212 8377

Bluff Promotions

Bluff Promotions exists to promote the town and its surrounding area plus its events, attractions and businesses – anything to do with our area.

If you want to know more or wish to become involved contact our Publicity/Promotions Officer – Lindsay Beer – 021351499

Where to purchase Bluff Oysters

Bluff is famous for the iconic Bluff Oyster.

Bluff Oysters can be purchased during the season (1 March to late August) at restaurants, cafes and takeaway shops in Bluff plus from Fowlers Oysters at 99 Ocean Beach Road (SH1 at the entrance to Bluff) or on order from Direct Fish & Oyster – 03 212 7193 or from the Bluff 4 Square Supermarket.


Te Rau Aroha Marae

The Te Rau Aroha Marae, located at the corner of Bradshaw and Henderson Street is the southernmost marae in New Zealand.

The marae was originally established in the late 1800’s as a hostel for local Maori who lived on islands off the Southland coast. The marae was developed in 1985, but the tipuna whare, Tahu-potiki, which takes its name from the ancestor (tipuna) of the local tribe, Ngai Tahu, was opened in February 2003.

The marae features stunning artwork from master carver Cliff Whiting.

The maihi (mast) at the marae represents the three mountains – Aoraki, the tallest mountain in the Southern Alps, Takitimu mountains in southern Fiordland and Motupohue, Bluff Hill. The koruru (carved head) within the maihi of Mount Aoraki is of Aoraki whose waka became the South Island in Maori mythology.

Aurora Australis (Southern Lights)

Bluff is one of the best places to view the Aurora Australis.

While the Northern Lights are well known throughout the world and are often on people’s bucket lists, its southern counterpart the Aurora Australis is no less spectacular. This natural phenomenon lights up the sky with ribbons of pink, red and green light. This is due to solar wind passing through the atmosphere, which is then captured by the Earth’s magnetic field. During the winter Southland’s remarkable long nights provide an ideal environment for this natural wonder to be observed.

While difficult to predict its glow the best time to catch these amazing skies is between April and September and the optimal conditions are when the sky is clear with little, or no moon. If you are keen to go Aurora hunting and need some guidance Service Aurora is an easy website to follow, and even offers Aurora Alerts when the Kp Index (Aurora Strength) is high. When the setting is right you can see the Aurora Australis with the naked eye, otherwise a good deal of patience and a decent camera will help.

Stirling Point

Stirling Point is the beginning of State Highway 1. Any Bluff local will tell you that. It is named after Captain William Stirling who established a whaling station in the area in 1836. The international signpost at the point is a much photographed icon, with direction and distances to some of the world’s major cities displayed.

Bluff Sign 

While Bluff has long been famous for the international signpost at Stirling Point, the recent addition of a Bluff sign at the entrance to the town is also very popular. The design of the sign gives a nod to the towns port and industrial background and is becoming another much photographed icon. 

Chain link sculpture 

This huge steel sculpture is located at Stirling Point. The other end of the chain, a twin sculpture, lies on the coast of Stewart Island at Lee Bay. The sculptural chain is a symbolic link to Stewart Island. The two chains illustrate the mythological link between the waka (canoe) of Maui and the anchor stone. This is a great spot to stop for photos.

Sir Joseph Ward

One of New Zealand’s significant politicians in the 19th and early 20th century. He began his business career in Bluff, and was a borough councillor and mayor, as well as Chairman of the Bluff Harbour Board, before entering national politics, becoming the nation’s 17th Prime Minister, holding that office on two occasions. He is remembered by an impressive statue at the entrance to Bluff, and is buried in the historic cemetery in Lagan Street.