Several hours need to be put aside to explore Queens Park, the 81ha jewel in the centre of Invercargill which is recognised as one of the most important parks in New Zealand.
Once through the stately Feldwick Gates, the main entrance to the park off Gala Street, the rest of the world is shut out and relaxation is the key. The wide expansive path goes through a stunning walkway of English Beech and Silver Birch trees. Known as Coronation Avenue, it is the axis from which all parts of the park can be found and history and nature merge along the way. The avenue goes past the Band Rotunda, the central focal point of the park and then carries on to Herbert Street.
Queens Park is a popular venue for weddings and other events and musical and theatrical performances often feature in the park; bookings are essential.
The park has plenty to offer sportspeople and those keen on keeping fit. The 4km fitness trail which winds its way around the park, will test the energetic and encourage others to have some fun. Twenty exercise stations are signposted with directions for appropriate use.
The Queens Park Golf Club boasts an 18-hole course among mature trees and the Southland Cricket Club hosts first class matches throughout the season. Croquet and bowling clubs are found nestled among the trees; tennis courts are located near the museum.
Statues and features
Many of the fine statues and features of the park including the Feldwick Gates, the Thomson statuary in the playground, and the Band Rotunda were made possible by generous bequests .
New gardens and sculptures are revitalising part of the woodland area in Queens Park - and a visit to the extraordinary Stumpery is an absolute must.
Gardens and botanical attractions
The park is a mecca for those who enjoy the natural and the planned. Its numerous gardens and botanical attractions provide vibrant displays whatever the season.
Queens Park is a wonderland for children. There is plenty of space for running around; lots of places to explore and a popular playground; a waterpark; and a hydraulic swing which allows children with disabilities to experience the joy and freedom of a playground swing without leaving their wheelchair.
History and animals
The Park does not forget its history. Once a grazing block for cattle and the site of the Southland Agricultural and Pastoral Association’s shows in the 1880s, the park now contains an animal reserve, which provides both a recreational and educational role as a farmyard corner. Rabbits, guinea pigs, domestic fowl and guinea fowl thrive in their enclosures, and more exotic animals such as wallaby, alpaca and ostrich, attract much attention.
New Zealand’s unique birdlife can be observed at close quarters in the Queens Park aviary. The innovative municipal facility was opened in 1998.
Certificate of Excellence for Queens Park
Queens Park has been awarded a 2015 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence based on the 4.5 star rating it received from visitors. It is ranked No 2 (behind E Hayes and Sons and the World’s Fastest Indian) on the list of things to do in Invercargill.
Three 24-hour Exeloos are available. The Exeloo at the second circle, Queens Park (pictured), was installed in March 2015 for people visiting northern areas of the park – you can’t miss it from the Herbert Street entrance! The others are at the Winter Gardens and just inside the Feldwick Gates.