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What’s so great about Fortrose what to see and do

  • 2 minutes

Southland, New Zealand

Fortrose there are plenty of things to do. The small, windswept settlement of Fortrose is located near a lagoon at the mouth of the Mataura River on Toetoes Bay.

@Fortrose & Rosemarkie Golf Club Links
@Fortrose & Rosemarkie Golf Club Links


  • Cliffs at Fortrose Mataura River Mouth
  • Watch the low tide turn as the sandspit and driftwood is slowly covered in the small lagoon
  • Look for the wreck of Ino Steamship in the low tide
  • Visit the historic cemetery and read epitaphs on tombstones
  • Dedicated golfers could think about trying their hand in the constant wind

Fortrose was a short lived whaling station (1830’s), supported sawmills and farming which continues to be important to the local economy. The only remaining relic of the past is the site of the smithy and the Fortrose cemetery. Go shipwreck spotting at low tide and walk along the windswept, driftwood beach.

Fortrose Cemetery

The windswept cemetery is the earliest European documented burial site in the South Catlins. The burial was recorded in 1873. James Wybrow, the first white settler in Fortrose, was buried here in 1878. Children of the Fortrose school raised money to erect a headstone in commemoration of the people who lost their lives in the wreck of the SS Tararua off the South Catlins coastline in 1881.The stone of Louisa Welsh bore an unusual epitaph “murdered by her husband” which was chiseled out many years later at the instruction of a local priest. Reading the epitaphs is the story of Fortrose and the cemetery is well maintained by the local trust who have a sheltered bay with the names of the people buried there.

Fortrose Shipwreck – The Ino

The steamship was stripped of engine, boiler and left to drift into the harbour. In 1886 she ran aground on the ocean side of the notorious sandbar. There are over 160 shipwrecks in the Foveaux Strait. The timber hulled ship is viewed at very low tide as ribcage skeleton. There is signage pointing to where the shipwreck is located.

Fortrose Golf Course

The area is windy and exposed with leaning trees testament to the consistent wind. The golf course, the southernmost course in New Zealand is where golfers have to battle the wind as well as their golf swing.


  • A giant pukeko statue as homage to the Fortrose estuary and its prolific bird life
@Fortrose & Rosemarkie Golf Club Links
@Fortrose & Rosemarkie Golf Club Links


The name Fortrose is associated with a Scottish drover from Inverness-Shire, near Fortrose, in Scotland, who claimed the area was similar to the Scottish Fortrose.

The area was an early Māori settlement and a whaling station for a couple of years in the 1830s. The town thrived as a port until the railway from Invercargill reached nearby Waimāhaka in 1899, making it practical to ship goods through the larger port at Bluff. Today a few houses, holiday homes, a cafe and community hall and cemetery remain.

Sunset at secluded beach at Fortrose in New Zealand
Sunset at secluded beach at Fortrose in New Zealand


Waimāhaka homestead is a substantial neo-Georgian house built in 1929. The category I building is in private ownership and there is no public access. The building was completed in the early 1930’s. “The homestead is of considerable architectural significance due to its form and the scarcity of this style of architecture in New Zealand from this time period. It is historically significant through its long association with the Holms family who established the oldest Romney stud, and the oldest continually maintained Hereford stud, in New Zealand.” Waimāhaka Homestead.

Every town adds to the richness of things to do and see. For more details about the region check Invercargill & Southland Region nearby attractions and events.



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