What Makes Gore Special

What is Gore known for and is it really worth visiting?

Every time we go to Gore, it offers a unique Kiwi experience that we’ve found hard to match. But if you’ve never been to it, you might wonder what Gore is known for and if it’s really worth visiting?  

Whether or not Gore is worth visiting depends on your interests. Gore is known for its country music, trout fishing, aviation history, and museums and art galleries. If you are a fan of these things, Gore is a good place to visit when in Southland, NZ.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these!

Country Music 

Gore’s dedication to country music stems from a deep-seated community passion, a history of music appreciation, and a commitment to fostering musical talent. These elements combined have established Gore as a significant hub for country music in New Zealand. 

The town of Gore actually has the title “Country Music Capital of New Zealand”, a reputation it wears with pride. This status isn’t just a random designation—it reflects the town’s longstanding tradition and commitment to promoting country music.

One key reason Gore is synonymous with country music is the annual New Zealand Gold Guitar Awards. This event, which has been held in Gore since 1972, is the largest country music event in the nation. 

Musicians from all over the country—and even overseas—flock to Gore to participate in this prestigious competition. Below are some more popular country music events and places that further cement Gore’s position as the epicentre of country music in New Zealand. 

The Tussock Country Music Festival

Website: The Tussock Country Music Festival

The Tussock Country Music Festival is a week-long celebration of country music. The festival features many events, including songwriting workshops, line dancing, and performances by renowned country music artists.

Gore Country Music Club 

Website: Gore Country Music Club

The heartbeat of country music in Gore, this club has been promoting the genre since 1972. It’s the home of the prestigious MLT NZ Gold Guitar Awards and boasts a vibrant community of passionate musicians and fans.

Top Paddock Music Festival

Website: Top Paddock Music Festival

The festival showcases the “new-country” pop/rock movement with an all-Kiwi, award-winning lineup performing live. Get your tickets quick if coming to this event because they sell out quick! 

Trout Fishing

Gore’s pristine, trout-filled waters, coupled with the thrill of catching wild fish, make it an irresistible destination for anglers from around the globe. 

With open arms, Gore has embraced its reputation as the ‘Brown Trout Capital of the World’. The Mataura River, which flows through Gore, holds the key to why Gore is globally recognised as a paradise for trout fishing. 

This river is internationally acclaimed for its brown trout fly-fishing. The river and its tributaries are home to an impressive population of brown trout, making it a dream spot for anglers. 

With nearly 150km of easily accessible waters, the Mataura River boasts the highest brown trout population and catch rates, offering seasoned and novice anglers endless opportunities.

Furthermore, as Kiwis fondly call it, the river’s “gin clear” water adds to the allure. The clarity of the water allows anglers to spot and track the trout, adding an exciting visual element to the fishing experience.

Here are some popular trout fishing spots in Gore that we like going to! 

Mataura River

Known as the Brown Trout Capital, the Mataura River is an angler’s dream come true. It’s famed for its mayfly hatches, and dry fly fishing here is unparalleled. 

The river is easily accessible with various public access points. We suggest fishing in the evening when the mayfly hatch peaks and trout feed on the surface.

Pomahaka River

Pomahaka River is less crowded than the Mataura, giving you a serene and intimate fishing experience. However, the river is a bit tricky to navigate, so hiring a local guide may significantly improve your fishing experience.

Waikaia River

This river is smaller and requires more technical skill but rewards anglers with high-quality trout. Be stealthy and patient since the trout can easily be spooked, but a well-presented fly will do the trick.

Aviation History 

Gore’s significance in aviation history is rooted in pioneering feats, enduring institutions, and a deep-seated passion for flying. This rich history and ongoing efforts to preserve and promote it continue to make Gore a notable name in New Zealand’s aviation circles.

Gore’s intriguing aviation history has reverberated far beyond its geographical boundaries. The roots of this reputation trace back to the early 20th century when J.W.H. Scotland undertook the first cross-country flight in New Zealand from Invercargill to Gore in a Caudron biplane. 

This pioneering feat marked a significant milestone in New Zealand’s aviation history and cemented Gore’s place in the annals of the country’s aeronautical narrative.

Today Gore’s rich aviation history has left an indelible mark on the town, with several spots offering fascinating insights into this unique heritage. Below are a few of Gore’s famous aviation landmarks that remind us of Gore’s aviation history. 

Croydon Aviation Heritage Centre

Address: 1558 Waimea Highway, Mandeville 9776, New Zealand
Hours:  Monday to Sunday – 10 AM to 3 PM
Phone:  +64 3 208 6046

This centre showcases the largest collection of de Havilland vintage aircraft in the southern hemisphere. When we came here, we explored the hangars, got up close to the vintage planes, and even experienced a scenic flight in a vintage aircraft. 

Gore Aerodrome (Charlton Aerodrome)

This aerodrome is a hive of aviation activities, from flight training to model aircraft flying. It’s also the home of the Gore Aero Club, established in the mid-20th century, and has been fostering aviation passion in the region for decades. 

It offers flight training, hosts flying competitions, and is a hub for local aviation enthusiasts. 

Mandeville Fly-In

This annual event at the Croydon Aviation Heritage Centre attracts aviation enthusiasts from all over New Zealand. Visitors can see a range of aircraft, including vintage planes, helicopters, and home-built models. 

Museum and Art Galleries 

Gore’s dedication to preserving its history and fostering its art scene has led to many museums and art galleries. These institutions offer a unique blend of local heritage, artistic talent, and international influence, making Gore a must-visit destination for culture and art enthusiasts.

Here are three of Gore’s top museums and art galleries that we enjoyed exploring. 

Gore Historical Museum

Address: 16 Hokonui Drive, Gore 9710, New Zealand
Phone: +64 3 208 7032

This museum offers a deep dive into the region’s past, with artifacts from Maori and early European settlers. It’s a must-visit for history buffs!

Website: Eastern Southland Gallery
Address: 14 Hokonui Drive, Gore 9710, New Zealand
• Monday to Friday – 10 AM to 4:30 PM
• Saturday & Sunday – 1 PM to 4 PM 
Phone: +64 3 208 9907

Known as the ‘Goreggenheim’, this gallery is home to an impressive collection of local and international art, including works by Ralph Hotere and John Money. The gallery is housed in Gore’s former Carnegie Library, adding a layer of historical charm. 

Hokonui Pioneer Village & Museum


Hokonui Pioneer Village in Gore, New Zealand. Such an amazing place full of amazing artifects from a past reality……100% worth a visit if your in the area! I could spend hours here! #petrolheadfamily #tiktokdiaries #carsoftiktok #kshopcustoms #austin #ford #holden #mg #herritage #pioneer #hokonuipioneervillage #worthavisit #history #newzealand🇳🇿 #cars #tractors #machinery #backintheday #nostalgia #beginings

♬ The Banjo Beat, Pt. 1 – Ricky Desktop
Address: 67 Waimea Street, North Gore, Gore 9710, New Zealand
Hours: Monday to Sunday – 2 PM to 4 PM 
Phone: +64 3 208 1161

This outdoor museum allows visitors to step back in time and explore buildings and items from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Plan to spend a few hours here as the village is quite huge.