Waihōpai (Māori)
Spring in 2005, Esk Street, Invercargill
Spring in 2005, Esk Street, Invercargill
Pro Communi Utilitate
English: "For the Benefit of the Community"[1]
Invercargill City's location on the South Island
Invercargill City's location on the South Island
Coordinates: 46°24′47″S 168°20′51″E / 46.41306°S 168.34750°E / -46.41306; 168.34750
CountryNew Zealand
IslandSouth Island
Settled by Europeans1853
Named forInbhirScottish Gaelic for river's mouth and William Cargill
 • MayorNobby Clark
 • Deputy MayorTom Campbell
 • MPs
 • Territorial authorityInvercargill City Council
 • Territorial389.92 km2 (150.55 sq mi)
 • Urban
62.95 km2 (24.31 sq mi)
 (June 2023)[2]
 • Territorial57,900
 • Density150/km2 (380/sq mi)
 • Urban
 • Urban density810/km2 (2,100/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+12 (NZST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+13 (NZDT)
9810, 9812
Area code03
Local iwiNgāi Tahu Edit this at Wikidata

Invercargill (/ˌɪnvərˈkɑːrɡɪl/ IN-vər-KAR-ghil, Māori: Waihōpai)[3] is the southernmost and westernmost city in New Zealand, and one of the southernmost cities in the world. It is the commercial centre of the Southland region. The city lies in the heart of the wide expanse of the Southland Plains to the east of the Ōreti or New River some 18 km (11 miles) north of Bluff, which is the southernmost town in the South Island. It sits amid rich farmland that is bordered by large areas of conservation land and marine reserves, including Fiordland National Park covering the south-west corner of the South Island and the Catlins coastal region.

Many streets in the city, especially in the centre and main shopping district, are named after rivers in Scotland. These include the main streets Dee and Tay, as well as those named after the Tweed, Forth, Tyne, Esk, Don, Ness, Yarrow, Spey, Eye and Ythan rivers, amongst others.

The 2018 census showed the population was 54,204, up 2.7% on the 2006 census number and up 4.8% on the 2013 census number.[4]


Inver comes from the Scottish Gaelic word inbhir meaning a river's mouth and Cargill is in honour of Captain William Cargill, who was at the time the Superintendent of Otago, of which Southland was then a part.[5]

The Māori name for the city, Waihōpai,[6] comes from the Waihopai River.[7] It may be a corruption of Waiopai, meaning wai (water or stream) of Pai.[8]


Invercargill Post Office at centre and the McKay & Aitchison, Arcade Auction Mart, auctioneers and valuers on right, 1926
Civic Theatre, the town hall of Invercargill – built in 1906.

Southland was a scene of early extended contact between Europeans and Māori, notably whalers and missionaries – Wohlers at Ruapuke Island.[9] In 1853, Walter Mantell purchased Murihiku from local Māori iwi, claiming the land for European settlement.[10] Otago, of which Southland was itself part, was the subject of planned settlement by the Free Church of Scotland, an offshoot of the Church of Scotland.[11] Settlement broadened with the discovery of gold in Central Otago in the 1860s. Traces of Scottish speech persist in Southland voices, with R often pronounced with a rolling burr. This is more noticeable among country people.

In 1856, a petition was put forward to Thomas Gore Browne, the Governor of New Zealand, for a port at Bluff. Due to the Otago gold rush, the region's population grew during the 1860s with the settlement of Bluff.[12] Browne agreed to the petition and gave the name Invercargill to the settlement north of the port. The settlement's chief surveyor was John Turnbull Thomson, a British civil engineer.[13]

Under the influence of James Menzies, Southland Province (a small part of the present Region, centred on Invercargill) seceded from Otago in 1861 following the escalation of political tensions. However, rising debt forced Southland to rejoin Otago in 1870 and the provincial system, and with it the province of Otago, was abolished entirely in 1876.[14] This debt was caused by a population decline stemming from poor returns from pastoral farming. In 1874, Invercargill's population was less than 2,500, which reflected the drift north to large centres.[14] In the 1880s, the development of an export industry based on butter and cheese encouraged the growth of dairy farming in Southland.[15]

On 6 August 1884, a group of women gathered together in the Don Street Primitive Methodist Church to form a local branch of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union. Eliza Ann Brown, wife of Charles W. Brown (who that same year co-founded the local Independent Order of Rechabites), led the group to establish eight main objectives, which included gathering signatures for a petition for women's suffrage.[16] This was the first all-women's organisation established in New Zealand. After affiliating with the new national organisation, the Women's Christian Temperance Union of New Zealand, under the guidance of world missionary Mary C. Leavitt, Roberta Annie Hinton, wife of the new Baptist minister, led the new club as it worked to strengthen the temperance movement in the area and support the needs of women and children across the nation.[17] By 1897, a founding member of this first branch of the WCTU Invercargill, Mrs. Elizabeth Stephen Baird, led the establishment of the Victoria Home for Friendless Girls.[18]

In December 1905, Invercargill voted in local prohibition of alcohol sales. This lasted for 40 years until voted out by returning servicemen in the Second World War. Drinking continued meanwhile, thanks to hotels and liquor merchants in outlying districts, huge volumes of beer, often in kegs, brought to private homes, or sold by the glass by keggers at hiding spots round the city. When prohibition ended, a committee of citizens persuaded the Government to give the monopoly on liquor sales in Invercargill to the specially formed Invercargill Licensing Trust. Based on a scheme in Carlisle, England, it returns profits to city amenities. Even today, alcohol is not sold in supermarkets.

Publicity has been brought to the city by the election of Tim Shadbolt, a colourful and outspoken former student activist and former mayor of Waitemata City, as mayor. He once appeared in a cheese advertisement stating "I don't mind where, as long as I'm Mayor". His supporters like the colour he brings to the city. His opponents refer to his controversial mayoral career in the Auckland suburbs and to his attitude to veterans during his opposition to the Vietnam War. Publicity and students have also come to the city by the Southern Institute of Technology's "Zero Fees" scheme, which allows New Zealand citizens and permanent residents to study while only paying for material costs of their study, and not tuition fees.


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Invercargill pictured from the International Space Station
Queens Park

Invercargill is the southernmost city in the Commonwealth of Nations. Invercargill is situated on the fertile and alluvial Southland Plains, which is amongst some of New Zealand's most fertile farmland. Southern Invercargill lies on the shore of the New River Estuary, while the northern parts lie on the banks of the Waihopai River. A tributary of the Waihopai is the Otepuni Stream or Creek, which flows from east to west through the city, through Otepuni Gardens, and under the railway yards. 10 kilometres west of the city centre lies Oreti Beach, a long expanse of sand stretching from the Sandy Point area to nearby Riverton.

Invercargill has a temperate oceanic climate. The mean daily temperature ranges from 5.2 °C (41.4 °F) in July to 14 °C (57 °F) in January. The yearly mean temperature is 9.8 °C (49.6 °F). Rainfall averages 1,112 millimetres (43.8 in) annually, and measurable snowfall is occasionally seen during the winter months of June to September. It ties with neighbouring Dunedin as the cloudiest city in New Zealand, with only 1,680 hours of sunshine per annum. Despite its cloudiness, and a relatively high frequency of rainy days, Invercargill receives less rain than either Auckland or Wellington. Invercargill is also New Zealand's second-windiest city, after Wellington.


Inner Invercargill suburbs:

Outer Invercargill localities:

1 - major settlement


The average temperature high ranges from 18.7 °C (65.7 °F) in January to 9.5 °C (49.1 °F) in July, but temperatures do occasionally exceed 25 °C (77 °F) in summer. Invercargill's hottest temperature on record was 33.8 °C (92.8 °F), recorded on 2 January 1948.[19] Extended periods of heat are rare; however, January 2018 was notable for the city recording three consecutive days above 30 for the first time in its recorded history, peaking with the city's second-highest temperature on record of 32.3 °C (90.1 °F) on 14 January 2018.[20] Owing to its relatively high latitude (46° 24′), the city enjoys nearly 16 hours of daylight at the summer solstice in late December, with astronomical night lasting as little as 2.5 hours. Conversely, the city receives only around 8.5 hours of daylight at the winter solstice in late June.[21]

Invercargill is the "City of Water and Light". The "light" refers to the long summer twilights and the aurora australis (southern lights). The "water" reference, humorists suggest, comes from notorious horizontal, driving rain in high wind at the corner of the two main streets, Dee and Tay. A recent sign also states, "Invercargill, where dreams can come true" with an image from the 2005 film The World's Fastest Indian.

In September 2010, Invercargill's heaviest snowfall in living memory heralded a run of unseasonably cold weather. A few buildings were damaged, notably Stadium Southland, the roof of which collapsed under the weight of the snow; and a decorating store. Many other stores were shut, and Invercargill Airport was closed for a day.[22]

Climate data for Invercargill (1991–2020)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 33.8
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 18.9
Daily mean °C (°F) 14.2
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 9.5
Record low °C (°F) −0.9
Average rainfall mm (inches) 88.7
Average rainy days (≥ 1.0 mm) 12.6 10.6 11.9 12.1 14.7 15.4 14.4 12.3 13.5 15.4 14.4 13.3 160.6
Average relative humidity (%) 81.6 85.4 86.7 86.2 88.1 88.4 88.6 88.1 82.5 81.8 79.4 78.9 84.6
Mean monthly sunshine hours 200.1 175.7 152.2 123.4 94.6 82.9 101.3 125.5 145.7 175.4 186.2 201.6 1,764.6
Source 1: NIWA Climate Data[23]
Source 2: Météo Climat [24]
Panorama of Invercargill from the city's historic watertower. Queen's Park can be seen toward the right of the image.


The Invercargill City territorial authority covers 389.92 km2 (150.55 sq mi)[25] and had an estimated population of 57,900 as of June 2023,[2] with a population density of 148 people per km2. This comprises 51,000 people in the Invercargill urban area, 1,840 people in the Bluff urban area, and 5,060 people in the surrounding settlements and rural area.

Ethnicities, 2023 Census
Ethnicity Population
New Zealand European
Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.
Source: [26][27]

Invercargill City had a population of 55,599 in the 2023 New Zealand census, an increase of 1,395 people (2.6%) since the 2018 census, and an increase of 3,903 people (7.5%) since the 2013 census. There were 24,048 dwellings. The median age was 40.0 years (compared with 38.1 years nationally). There were 10,230 people (18.4%) aged under 15 years, 10,038 (18.1%) aged 15 to 29, 25,077 (45.1%) aged 30 to 64, and 10,248 (18.4%) aged 65 or older.[27]

Ethnicities were 82.2% European/Pākehā, 19.4% Māori, 4.7% Pasifika, 7.6% Asian, 1.3% Middle Eastern, Latin American and African New Zealanders, and 1.3% other. People may identify with more than one ethnicity.[27]

Invercargill City had a population of 54,204 at the 2018 New Zealand census. There were 21,585 households, comprising 26,517 males and 27,687 females, giving a sex ratio of 0.96 males per female.

The percentage of people born overseas was 12.2, compared with 27.1% nationally.

Although some people chose not to answer the census's question about religious affiliation, 51.0% had no religion, 37.5% were Christian, 0.6% had Māori religious beliefs, 0.8% were Hindu, 0.4% were Muslim, 0.5% were Buddhist and 1.6% had other religions.

Of those at least 15 years old, 6,633 (15.2%) people had a bachelor's or higher degree, and 11,145 (25.5%) people had no formal qualifications. The median income was $29,900, compared with $31,800 nationally. 5,991 people (13.7%) earned over $70,000 compared to 17.2% nationally. The employment status of those at least 15 was that 21,885 (50.1%) people were employed full-time, 6,561 (15.0%) were part-time, and 1,650 (3.8%) were unemployed.[26]



Main articles: Invercargill City Council and Mayor of Invercargill

The Invercargill City Council governs the territorial authority of Invercargill. It is made up of an elected mayor and 12 additional councillors. They are elected under the First Past the Post system in triennial elections, with the last election being held in 2022. The current mayor is Nobby Clark.

Invercargill Water Tower


The electorate of Invercargill in the New Zealand Parliament is held by Penny Simmonds, a Member of Parliament and Minister from the government party National Party. Under the Māori electorates system, Invercargill is part of the large Te Tai Tonga electorate, which covers the entire South Island and the surrounding islands, and is currently held by the Te Pāti Māori MP Tākuta Ferris.


Invercargill is home to the Southern Institute of Technology,[28] which has introduced a zero-fees scheme.[29] The scheme was partly responsible for rejuvenating the city when it was in a steady state of population decline. However the major factor in Invercargill's regrowth is the dairy industrial boom of the 2000s (decade) due to an increased demand for New Zealand milk, cheese and butter. New dairy factories have opened around the Southland Region, as well as more efficient meat processing works and research and development facilities.[30]

Invercargill is on the Southern Scenic Route (tourist road), allowing day trips to Queenstown, Stewart Island, Dunedin, Te Anau and Fiordland.[31]

Liquor licensing trusts

The Invercargill Licensing Trust is one of several trusts in the city of Invercargill. The Invercargill Licensing Trust and the ILT Foundation are major funders of community projects in Invercargill. The ILT Foundation provides donations and grants totalling around $10 million a year to over 500 organisations. The trust has also been influential in the development of city facilities such as the ILT Stadium Southland and Invercargill Velodrome. The trust are also big-time backers of local sporting franchises the Southern Steel, Southland Sharks and Southland Stags.

The Community Trust of Southland was established after Westpac bought out the Trust Bank Southland in the late 1990s. It was sold for approximately $150 million, with those funds now being set aside for the people of the Southland regions, including Queenstown, Arrowtown and Tapanui. It is widely recognised as one of New Zealand's leading community trusts, with the benefit of a large capital base for a relatively small population. Consequently, the Trust provides significant funding to a wide range of projects and programmes. Each year, it distributes between $7 and $10 million in the region, not including the large sums given to sports franchises and building projects and since its inception has distributed close to $140 million in grants. [citation needed]


Invercargill was home to Invercargill Brewery, the southernmost manufacturer of beer in New Zealand. Established in 1999, it was an internationally award-winning production brewery which also contract brews for other iconic New Zealand breweries, including Yeastie Boys. The company went into receivership in 2018.[32]


Invercargill has a growing tourism sector.[33] Attractions such as E Hayes, Bill Richardson Transport World, Dig This and Classic Motorcycle Mecca attract people to the area.[34]


SBS Bank, or the Southland Building Society, is a New Zealand-based financial institution that traces its roots back to 1869. Originally established as a building society in Invercargill by James Walker Bain to help local communities achieve their financial goals, SBS Bank has evolved into a full-service bank offering a wide range of banking and financial products. With its headquarters in Invercargill.


Murihiku Marae is located in Invercargill. It is a marae (meeting ground) of the Waihōpai Rūnanga branch of Ngāi Tahu, and includes Te Rakitauneke wharenui (meeting house).[35][36]

During the late 1880s a small periodical called Literary Southland contained stories as well as memoirs of the pioneering days of the region.[37] The publication was distributed from a store in the northern end of Invercargill. While largely forgotten today, it was considered relatively popular at the time, if at times controversial.[38]


Rugby Park Stadium

The Southern Sting (Netball- Now Southern Steel) won seven National titles from 1999 to 2004, 2007, while the local rugby team the Southland Stags held the Ranfurly Shield from 22 October 2009 to 9 October 2010 and have made the NPC Semi-finals for the past three years. Southland also has one of the highest percentages of sports participants in the country, with codes such as rugby union, netball, basketball, cricket, and hockey being popular. Many professional sportsmen too, have come out of Southland as well. Invercargill also has some high quality sporting facilities, including an indoor velodrome, an Olympic sized swimming centre, a 20,000 capacity rugby stadium and also international playing arenas for both hockey and cricket. The city's 4500 capacity indoor stadium was severely damaged in 2010, its roof collapsing following a heavy snowfall.[39] Southland also has four professional sporting sides that are based in Invercargill:

Invercargill is home to the only indoor cycling velodrome in the South Island. The indoor 250 metres wooden velodrome is home to Track Cycling in Southland. The Invercargill Licensing Trust supports the velodrome which is situated at Stadium Southland, a large indoor sports complex located at Surrey Park.

For horse racing aficionados there is a racecourse in the aptly named Racecourse Road, on the east side of the city.

Two motorcycle speedway tracks are located within 1 kilometre of each other, and 10 kilometres west from the centre of the city by Oreti Beach. The Oreti Park Speedway and the Riverside Speedway both host important events, the former has held qualifying rounds of the Speedway World Championship in 1976 and 1983[40][41] and the New Zealand Solo Championship six times.[42]


The "Invercargill March", an internationally famous tune, was written by Alex Lithgow, who attended Invercargill Grammar School (now Middle School). In his book Invercargill – 150 Years, Lloyd Esler's opening sentence reads, "Invercargill was done a fine favour by Alex Lithgow who named his famous march after his boyhood home. The Invercargill March is possibly the best advertisement the town has ever had as the work is a brass-band favourite and the word 'Invercargill' is whispered amongst audiences worldwide. There is only one Invercargill in the world – this one".

When Invercargill hosted the national brass band contest in 1909, Alex's brother Tom asked for a test piece for the contest and Alex offered this piece to the city. On the music he wrote,

To Invercargill, the Southernmost City in New Zealand (End of the World), and its Citizens, I dedicate this March as a memento of the many pleasant years spent there in my boyhood.

— Alex Lithgow


Main article: List of schools in Southland, New Zealand § Invercargill City

A tuatara at Southland Museum and Art Gallery


High schools

All high schools in Invercargill are Year 7–13, following a Ministry of Education review in 2004 that made most of Invercargill's primary schools Year 1–6, while also closing the Year 7–8 schools Rosedale Intermediate, Collingwood Intermediate and Tweedsmuir Junior High.

Primary schools

Most primary schools are Year 1–6.


Main article: Transport in Invercargill

Infrastructure and services

The main hospital in Invercargill is Southland Hospital, located in Kew. It is a public hospital operated by the Southern District Health Board.

The electricity distribution network in the majority of the Invercargill urban area is owned by Electricity Invercargill. The network in the suburbs of Waikiwi, Grasmere, Kew and Kingswell, as well as the surrounding rural area, is owned by The Power Company. Both networks are operated and maintained by Powernet.[49][50] Electricity is supplied from Transpower's national grid at two substations: Invercargill (Racecourse Road) and North Makarewa.

Notable residents

Nathan Cohen
Marton Csokas

Sister cities

Current sister cities

Former sister city

See also


  1. ^ Invercargill City Council, 'Your Council'
  2. ^ a b "Subnational population estimates (RC, SA2), by age and sex, at 30 June 1996-2023 (2023 boundaries)". Statistics New Zealand. Retrieved 25 October 2023. (regional councils); "Subnational population estimates (TA, SA2), by age and sex, at 30 June 1996-2023 (2023 boundaries)". Statistics New Zealand. Retrieved 25 October 2023. (territorial authorities); "Subnational population estimates (urban rural), by age and sex, at 30 June 1996-2023 (2023 boundaries)". Statistics New Zealand. Retrieved 25 October 2023. (urban areas)
  3. ^ "List of Place Names – Māori Language Resources". Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori – Māori Language Commission. Archived from the original on 9 June 2015. Retrieved 16 March 2010.
  4. ^ "2018 Census population and dwelling counts | Stats NZ".
  5. ^ Wright (2009), p. 224
  6. ^ "Waihōpai". Te Aka Māori Dictionary. Retrieved 9 June 2024.
  7. ^ "Waihopai". Kā Huru Manu. Retrieved 9 June 2024.
  8. ^ "Waihopai". LINZ. Retrieved 9 June 2024.
  9. ^ Wright (2009), p. 61
  10. ^ Wright (2009), p. 140
  11. ^ King (2003), p. 170
  12. ^ Wright (2009), p. 148
  13. ^ Fallow, Michael (23 November 2015). "Southern historian John Hall-Jones dies". Southland Times. Retrieved 15 December 2015.
  14. ^ a b Wright (2009), p. 237
  15. ^ King (203), p. 238
  16. ^ "Women's Christian Temperance Union". (Invercargill) Southland Times. No. 4997. Papers Past, National Library of New Zealand. 7 August 1884. Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  17. ^ "Women's Christian Temperance Union". (Invercargill) Southland Times. No. 8042. Papers Past, National Library of New Zealand. 24 June 1885. Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  18. ^ "In Memoriam". The White Ribbon. 32 (377): 3. 18 December 1926. Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  19. ^ "New Zealand Climate Summary: January 2018" (PDF). NIWA. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  20. ^ "Invercargill has hottest day on record at 32.3°C". Radio New Zealand. 14 January 2018. Retrieved 14 January 2018.
  21. ^ "Sunrise and sunset times in Invercargill". Retrieved 15 January 2021.
  22. ^ Hotton, Mark; MacKay, Scot (20 September 2010). "Stadium ruined, more snow coming". The Southland Times. Fairfax. Retrieved 5 October 2011.
  23. ^ "Climate data and activities". NIWA. Archived from the original on 20 May 2024. Retrieved 20 May 2024.
  24. ^ "Météo climat stats Records for Invercargill". Météo Climat. Retrieved 25 March 2017.
  25. ^ "ArcGIS Web Application". Retrieved 25 April 2024.
  26. ^ a b "Statistical area 1 dataset for 2018 Census". Statistics New Zealand. March 2020. Invercargill City (075). 2018 Census place summary: Invercargill City
  27. ^ a b c "2023 Census national and subnational usually resident population counts and dwelling counts" (Microsoft Excel). Stats NZ - Tatauranga Aotearoa. Retrieved 29 May 2024.
  28. ^ Russell Kirkpatrick (2005), plate 48
  29. ^ Grant, David (2 March 2009). "Southland region – Government, education and health". Te Ara. Retrieved 2 November 2010.
  30. ^ Grant, David (2 March 2009). "Southland region – Farming: 1950s to present day". Te Ara. Retrieved 2 November 2010.
  31. ^ Grant, David (2 March 2009). "Southland region – Transport, power and other advances". Te Ara. Retrieved 2 November 2010.
  32. ^ Hartley, Simon (9 November 2018). "New name a fresh start for brewery". Otago Daily Times.
  33. ^ "Venture Southland, Southland Tourism Key Indicators November 2016 - January 2017" (PDF).
  34. ^ Pickett, Brittany (26 August 2015). "Bill Richardson Transport World a "catalyst" for tourism". The Southland Times. Fairfax. Retrieved 22 March 2017.
  35. ^ "Te Kāhui Māngai directory". Te Puni Kōkiri.
  36. ^ "Māori Maps". Te Potiki National Trust.
  37. ^ Hall-Jones, F. G. (1946). Invercargill Pioneers. Southland Historical Committee.
  38. ^ Miller, F.W. (1977). King of Counties. Craig Printing Ltd.
  39. ^ MacKay, Scot (18 September 2010). "Fear as roof collapses". The Southland Times. Fairfax. Retrieved 5 October 2011.
  40. ^ "World Championship". Metal Speedway. Retrieved 3 February 2024.
  41. ^ "World Championship". Retrieved 3 February 2024.
  42. ^ "HISTORYCZNE ZESTAWIENIE WYNIKÓW 1929-2023". Speedway History. Retrieved 3 February 2024.
  43. ^ "Pilot Training & Flight School". Southern Wings.
  44. ^ Oldfield, Georgina (27 November 2019). "Mike Newell appointed as new James Hargest College principal". The Southland Times. Fairfax. Retrieved 21 May 2020.
  45. ^ "Welcome to Verdon". Archived from the original on 5 June 2010. Retrieved 24 January 2011.
  46. ^ Counts, Education. "Ministry of Education - Education Counts". Retrieved 19 July 2020.
  47. ^ "School lunch scheme piloted in regions where child poverty is low". Stuff. 5 March 2020. Retrieved 19 July 2020.
  48. ^ Westmount School
  49. ^ "Electricity Invercargill Limited | PowerNet".
  50. ^ "The Power Company Limited | PowerNet".
  51. ^ "Sister Cities". Invercargill City Council.
  52. ^ "'Aussies at fault' for sister city breakdown". Stuff.