The first thing to say about Invercargill is that you've got to respect any city who would vote in Tim Shadbolt as mayor. It must have felt like a bit of a punt when they first elected him in 1995, but he seems to have done a great job of promoting the city to the rest of the country, even if he does come across as someone who fell into a cauldron of Jim Beam as a baby and has yet to fully recover.
Tim has a lot to be proud of. Invercargill is a beautiful, interesting city and it's a gateway to some of the country's most breathtaking destinations.
Stewart Island, how about that one? The air is thick with fluttering birds, who like the scenery but are also quite chipper that the island has no stoats or weasels around to eat their young. The nearby Ulva Island sounds like it's named after some obscure part of the reproductive system, but is most famous for being entirely predator free: honestly, you can hardly get ashore for the feathery friends flapping about you, blissfully unaware that, this time yesterday, you were eating one of their distant cousins deep-fried in 11 herbs and spices.
Or how about Bluff? It's where Bluff Oysters come from. Those oysters are meant to be an aphrodisiac, although guys, trust us, yelling at a girl "Oi, hurry up and eat them, they cost me twenty five dollars!" will get you no closer to her bedroom.
Bluff is also where you'll find the starting point of State Highway One. Here's a good trick - say to your friend "hey, I'll race you to the end," then yell "go!" He'll be nearing Cape Reinga before he thinks to look around and make sure you're behind him, at which point you can text him and say "Ha! I'm still in Invercargill necking RTDs with Shadbolt!" He'll be mad at you for a while, but he'll soon come around to the funny side.
As well as it's pretty heritage buildings, lush native bush and long daylight hours, Invercargill is also famous for Burt Munro, who was immortalized by Anthony Hopkins in the film The World's Fastest Indian. We'd like to tell you more about this fascinating character, but we didn't go to that movie because we were under the mistaken impression it was a biopic about cricketing quick bowler Kapil Dev. Sorry, but until the DVD goes into the one-week-for-one-dollar section at Video Ezy, you're on your own.