Invercargill, the capital of Southland, is the southernmost city of New Zealand. Mostly flat, the city’s natural history alone makes it interesting. Invercargill depends mainly on farming, which is the backbone of its economy. Without much ado, let’s dive into the real facts about the city:
The city’s site was selected in 1856 by John Turnbull Thomson, the Otago province chief surveyor at the time. Streets were laid out the same year, and the following year witnessed the first selling of sections. By December, 1957, Invercargill had only 14 houses, three stores, and two hotels. In 1861, the city’s first hospital was established. The Invercargill Times, which later changed its name to Southland Times, would be founded a year later.
Invercargill’s Boom and Bust
Following the 1861 separation of Southland from Otago, Invercargill automatically became the capital of the former. The town experienced an economic growth boom, thanks to the 1863 Otago gold rush. The source of gold, Wakatipu district, Otago, was very close to Invercargill; hence, the city’s growth was inevitable. However, this economic success did not last, as Invercargill became heavily indebted. The construction of railway lines to Bluff and Winton stalled, and in 1870, the province would seek a reunion with Otago, when it became clear that it could not financially stand on its two feet.
Presbyterian churches were substantial constructions in Invercargill, with the first church having been completed in 1915. The Presbyterian influence was so strong that it was not until 1943 that other denominations found their way into Invercargill.
Post-World War II Economic Success
Pastoralism in Southland thrived after the Second World War, making it possible for Invercargill to follow suit. The city’s population during this boom period grew by about 20,000 people in a span of 26 years. The Tiwai Point (aluminum smelter) would be established at Bluff in 1971, a clear indication of the city’s economic boom.