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A City with a Rich History

Published on 30 September 2021

2 minute read

Founded over 165 years ago

As one of the older cities in the country, Invercargill was officially founded in 1856, less than a decade after Dunedin. With over 165 years of history, you can find many old structures around town. Some buildings in the town centre needed to be reinforced for earthquakes, while others needed to be torn down and rebuilt entirely. You can find traces of the rich history throughout the town in the names and architecture of Invercargill.

Meaning of the name

Invercargill is an older city, with roots dating back over 150 years ago. It was named after Captain Wiliam Cargill. So where does the “Inver” come from? Inver- is a prefix for estuary, specifically a meeting of waters. In Te reo Māori, the area is called Waihopai and is part of the Murihiku region.

Where the roads run wide

Invercargill’s main streets are very wide for its population and city size. With main streets being 20m long, John Turnbull-Thompson, one of Invercargill’s forefathers, was planning ahead. He designed wider streets in case of an economic boom and so they could accommodate the upcoming advances in steam technology. While Invercargill hasn’t become a massive population hub like Auckland or Christchurch, it is still the largest city in Southland and the wide streets help with traffic.

Home of New Zealand’s 2nd longest-serving Mayor

His Worship Sir Tim Shadbolt is no novice when it comes to politics. Starting as Mayor of Waitemata City in 1983, Shadbolt has had a successful career ever since. He was first mayor of Invercargill in 1993 and was defeated in 1995. In 1998 he won the mayoral seat again and has been mayor ever since. His runs as mayor are 2nd only to George Perry, mayor of Hokitika for 31 years.

Over 10 parks in the city limits

Although it’s a major urban centre, Invercargill has over 10 parks within the city limits. The largest and most popular of these parks is Queen’s Park near the centre of town. At over 80 hectares, the large park has fitness tracks, wildlife, playgrounds, and more. Rugby Park in south Invercargill is home to the Southland Stags rugby team.

Some other notable parks include Turnbull Thomson Park, Donovan Park, Anderson Park, and Thomsons Bush.