Tuatapere McCracken's Rest
New Zealand

Things to do in Tuatapere, New Zealand

Tuatapere in New Zealand is known as “the town that has the last light of every day.” If you drive one hour further south from Manapouri (which already feels like you’ve reached the end of the world) you will arrive in Tuatapere. This town is located place where agricultural land and Fiordland National Park meet. Right on the Southern Scenic Route, you can make various trips from Tuatapere and you will encounter only a fraction of all the tourists you will find in towns like Te Anau and Manapouri.

I’ve been to Tuatapere twice over the past few years and my first impression was that it was quite sleepy and that there’s not much to do. And let’s be honest, with a slogan like “New Zealand’s sausage capital” you may not really attract as many tourists as you’d like. Although the town itself is not super impressive, the surroundings are.

In this article I will tell you what to do in Tuatapere and the surrounding area and give you my tips for overnight stays. Enjoy reading!

Tuatapere is located about 9 kilometers from Foveaux Strait and is the last significant village before you reach the ocean. With about 500 inhabitants, it is no more than a tiny village, with a small supermarket and a few places to stay overnight. In the late 19th century the village flourished because of the sawmill, of which little is now left. Tuatapere now mainly attracts nature lovers, hikers and travelers along the Southern Scenic Route.

View over the bay towards the Hump Ridge Track
View over the bay towards the Hump Ridge Track

The Hump Ridge Track

Tuatapere was placed the tourist map a few years ago because of the Hump Ridge Track. This 62 kilometer long circular trail has been in the running for a number of years to become the newest Great Walk of New Zealand. This result has not yet been achieved as far I was able to find out.

I did the Hump Ridge Track in 2018 and found it relatively challenging when compared to the Great Walks. It was quite steep in places and the track was not always clear.

But above all, I had very bad weather. Little of the beautiful views that were promised to me on the internet came to sight. Because the Hump Ridge Track is not managed by the Department of Conservation, it is quite expensive to walk it. In retrospect I didn’t think it was worth it, but this was largely due to the bad weather.

More information about the track can be found here.

hiking the hump ridge track new zealand
On the Hump Ridge Track

Things to see in Tuatapere

There is a lot to see in Tuatapere itself. There is a forestry museum and at Tui Basecamp you will find the home of the “World Famous Tuatapere Sausage.”

If you want to take a walk in the village you can do the Tuatapere Scenic Reserve Loop Track, a well-maintained walking path of about two kilometers. Here you will find a lot of native bush and the “big totara tree.”

Just before Tuatapere is the Clifden Suspension Bridge, but it looked a bit worn off when I drove past and it was closed (fall of 2023). If this is worth it, please feel free to leave a message for the other readers!

Tuatapere Domain Reserve
Tuatapere Domain Reserve

Lake Hauroko

One of the most beautiful places in New Zealand is Lake Hauroko, the deepest lake in the country. The lake has a depth of 462 meters and you reach the shores via a drive on a dirt road. I did the Lookout Track here, a tough 2.9 kilometer walk that goes more or less vertically uphill and which the New Zealanders call an ‘advanced tramping track’. Once at the top you have beautiful views over the lake and on clear days even all the way to Foveaux Straight.

Lake Hauroko is about a 45-minute drive from Tuatapere.

Most beautiful unknown places in New Zealand: Lake Hauroko
Lake Hauroko

McCracken’s Rest

McCracken’s Rest is a cliff-edge viewpoint with amazing views of Te Waewae Bay and Solander Islands, formed by an eroded volcano. According to Maori legend, the Solanders are the broken tooth and crumbs thrown aside by Kewa the whale as he moved between Stewart Island and the mainland.

McCracken’s Rest is about fifteen minutes from Tuatapere and is a great stop for a picknick if you are cruising along the Southern Scenic Route.

McCrackens Rest Tuatapere
McCracken’s Rest

Tuatapere accommodation

I spent the night at the Last Light Lodge both times I was in Tuatapere. I was there in February and even then it was very quiet. The camping sites overlook farmland and have chickens and other livestock. From here you can also walk straight into the Tuatapere Scenic Reserve.

In addition to camping spots, they also have a number of neatly furnished rooms. View the prices and availability of the Last Light Lodge here.

You can find other places to stay in Tuatapere here.

The walk from the campsite Last Light Lodge
The walk from the campsite

Conclusion and disclaimer

Although not quite as spectacular as the tourist cities a bit further up north, you will find Tuatapere a quiet oasis away from the large chunks of tourists. It’s a rural town, great for an overnight stop along the way. The distances are as follows:

  • Tuatapere – Dunedin: 266 kms
  • Tuatapere – Te Anau: 100 kms
  • Tuatapere – Invercargill: 82 kms

I hope this article about Tuatapere gives you an idea of what to see and to do. If you have any add-ons, feel free to leave them in the comments below.

In this article you will find affiliate links. If you make a reservation via such a link, I may receive a modest commission at no extra cost to you.

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