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Art & Heritage

Gore District 10 museums, galleries & buildings to visit

  • 4 minutes

Southland, New Zealand

Half day ramble exploring heritage buildings, museums

Perhaps the Southland Plains is a foreign country for most kiwis. That gives North Islanders and overseas visitors alike a chance to visit faraway places that are a hop, skip and jump from Invercargill. A world class art gallery, a museum dedicated to whisky, intrepid bootleggers and a vintage airplane heritage centre offer an extraordinary array of attractions for a sparsely populated area. Plenty of space for visitors to spread their wings, give a flyby a go and relax sipping Hokonui whisky. The best time to visit is year round, indoors if it’s raining and remember to check opening hours especially in winter months.


  1. Croydon Air Heritage Centre, Mandeville

Vintage planes, the chance to literally blow the cobwebs out of your hair with the rush of a flight in a Tiger Moth then the Croydon Air Heritage Centre at Mandeville is definitely on your list of must visit places. In the words of the museum, ‘the Croydon Aviation Heritage Centre houses mostly aircraft from the 1920s and 30s, including an extensive collection of de Havilland aircraft.

It is unique in that nearly all of the aircraft on display actually fly. This nationally significant museum is dedicated to preserving and celebrating New Zealand’s civil aviation heritage – both the stories of pioneer aviators and their equally colourful machines’. The adjoining Miss Coco Coffee cafe and exhibition rooms of emerging local artists is a bonus. Extensive lawns, trees to climb let off steam for kids giving parents an opportunity to relax with a restorative coffee.

@Croydon Aviation Heritage Centre, Mandeville
@Croydon Aviation Heritage Centre, Mandeville


The airfield hosts an annual Mandeville Fly In, or Weekend 8 as it is known because it is held on the eighth weekend of the year. This is a celebration of flight and a chance to get up close to vintage aircraft, motorcycles, cars and steam-engines in all their glory. A perfect day out in Manderville.


SUMMER (October to April)
Monday to Friday 9.30am to 4.30pm.
WINTER (September to March)
Monday to Friday: 10.00am to 4.00pm
Admission fees apply

  1. Eastern Southland Gallery

Where else to find an extensive African art collection but in Gore. Thanks to a generous donor, Dr John Money the gallery was established. The museum is located in the exquisite heritage former library. The building itself with its painted ceilings and rounded wall corners is an invitation to explore around the next corner to find out what is there. The John Money collection is augmented with Ralph Hotere works, Rita Angus interpretations of her beloved Southland and other well known New Zealand artists.


The architect responsible for the glorious heritage Gore library, E.R Wilson also designed the Invercargill Water Tower.


Monday to Friday 10.00am – 4.30pm
Weekends and Public Holidays 1.00pm – 4.00pm
Closed New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Christmas Day and Boxing Day
Admission: Free – donations welcome

@Eastern Southland Gallery
@Eastern Southland Gallery
  1. Hokonui Moonshine Museum

The adage to do what you know best is a hallmark of Mary McRae. Her skill at whisky making, the family whisky recipe and the still carefully packaged and transported to New Zealand from her native Scotland created the Hokonui whiskey brand. The Prohibition era in the early twentieth century fostered the bootlegger and goings on where the whiskey stills went underground.

Hokonui Moonshine Museum, Gore @Southland
Hokonui Moonshine Museum, Gore @Southland

The Hokonui Moonshine Museum is devoted to the narrative of MacRae family and whisky production. A colourful side note for the museum is the licence to make and sell its own whiskey, made to McRae’s original recipe, which it sells in bottles bearing its trademark skull and crossbones label.


Monday to Friday 9.00am – 4.30pm.
Saturday 9.00am – 2.30pm
Sunday 9.00am – 2.30pm
Public Holidays as advertised
Admission Fees apply

  1. Gore Historical Museum

Gore Historical Museum has a classic museum approach to interpreting European settler narratives with static displays and a range of colonial costumes and adornments. The Hook, Line & Sinker is the museum’s contribution to the history of brown trout fishing.


Monday to Friday 9.00am – 5.00pm
Saturday 9.00am – 3.00pm
Sunday 9.00am – 3.00pm
Admission Free

  1. Hokonui Pioneer Village and Museum

Pioneer collections are great places for kids with displays of vintage farm tractors, machinery and implements and a fully restored and road worthy 1904 Burrell Traction engine that has lived all its life in the Southland area. The village has buildings from the original Mandeville Anglican Church, a restored Cottage from 1883 and its inventory of memorabilia, the Ferndale School ready for pupils, the original Balfour Bank building, the Open Shed which houses a number of wooden drays, and the McNab Smithy which displays blacksmith memorabilia and has a fully functional forge. The wildlife pond and waterwheel encourage families to picnic on the site.


Saturday, Sunday 1.00pm to 4.00pm
Admission Fees apply, no EFTPOS available

@Hokonui Pioneer Village & Museum
@Hokonui Pioneer Village & Museum
  1. Mataura museum
@Mataura Museum
@Mataura Museum

The Museum is based in an 1880s Cottage, known locally as Clematis Cottage. It showcases the Mataura Paper Mill and Freezing Works and uses touch screens to bring Mataura’s rich social and industrial heritage to life. The Collection includes a strong set of local photographs dating back to the 1870s and a comprehensive local history archive. You can explore the Museum’s collection online.

Admission free, donations welcome.


Friday, Saturday, Sunday 1.00 – 4.00
Admission is free Donations welcome

  1. Gore heritage sites

The railway line from Dunedin to Invercargill runs through the town although passenger services ceased in 2003. The railway was important to Gore. Business flourished in the busy railway junction; the Waimea Plains Railway ran west to connect with the Kingston Branch in Lumsden, while the Waikaka Branch connected with the Main South Line nearby in McNab. One of New Zealand’s most famous preserved trains is the Kingston Flyer, which takes its name from a passenger express that once ran between Kingston and Gore.

Kingston Flyer, South Island New Zealand
Kingston Flyer, South Island
  1. Flemings Building
Fleming & Company Flour Mill, Invercargill, New Zealand
Fleming & Company Flour Mill

In the 1950’s kids grew up on Fleming’s porridge, in particular Creamoata breakfast cereal. The iconic factory building. With the sale of the brand in the 2000 production of all products was moved to Australia in 2001 with the brand Creamoata disappearing from supermarket shelves in 2008. The building’s well known mascot, “Sgt Dan” belongs to the building’s current owner “Sgt Dan Stockfoods Ltd”. The earliest structure still remaining is the 1892 four storied building fronting Gorton Street. The 28 metre chimney dates from 1912 and was constructed by John Day of Gore using 34,000 bricks.

  1. East Gore Presbyterian Church

East Gore Presbyterian Church is one of the two remaining wooden Gothic churches designed by the well known nineteenth century architect R.A. Lawson. Built in 1881 (New Zealand Historic Places Trust designation), the main building is currently used as a performance and lecture theatre and the hall, built later, as a studio and flat for visiting artists. The vaulted ceiling and style is a popular photo moment location. The church is the site for the East Gore Arts Centre.

  1. Heritage buildings

Gore heritage buildings include:

  • Post Office, main street Gore
  • Gore Cemetery 1878
  • Victoria Park with its mature trees and plaque marking the site for original town buildings
Overgrown natural spaces to catch your breath St Leonards, NSW Gore Hill Cemetery
Gore Cemetery

Getting there


East Gore Arts Centre

The arts centre is a major project for the District’s arts and heritage department.

It involves

  • the full restoration of the exterior of the 1881 church building, and internal refurbishment to allow for the establishment of a multi-purpose studio space, and a specialist painting studio
  • the establishment of a fully functioning lithographic studio utilising the equipment and presses gifted by Muka Studios, plus facilities for etching and woodblock printing
  • the development of a self-contained flat for visiting artists, including The Royal Suite of bedroom furniture commissioned for the Queen’s 1954 tour of New Zealand
  • the creation of a small temporary exhibition space for use by Artists-in-Residence
  • a fully landscaped garden… Information from Gore District Council online resource

Te Whānau ō Hokonui marae is on Charlton Road. Located in a former doctors surgery the Marae is the hub of the local Maori community.  Stories, myths, and legends of southern Māori occupation of the Mataura River valley will be brought to life in a multi-million dollar redevelopment of the Gore Arts and Heritage Precinct. The Maruawai Project is the culmination of many years’ work developing and refining an ambitious arts, heritage, and cultural hub in the heart of Gore’s central business district. Plans for the Maruawai Cultural Precinct include a new Maruawai Centre, which will celebrate close to a thousand years of human occupation of the Mataura valley.’ Hokonui Marae Archives – Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu.

The journey is worth it.

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