This is a fitting monument to one of New Zealand’s undoubted places of spiritual significance. Not only does the lookout command a view, seemingly of all the South Island, but represents a frontier in the geography of the country. A beautifully carved norite slab shows all the major landmarks of the 360 degree view, a climax to the interesting histories displayed on interpretation panels on the way up.
These cleverly follow a sequence from early natural history, through Maori and European settlement, the uses of Bluff Hill and present meaning of the place to various groups. An information sign at the start of the track relates the spiritual significance of the place to Maori.
Bluff Hill lookout is at the top of Flagstaff Road, 2.1 km from the terminus of SH 1 at Stirling Point. Turn right at the signpost into Lee Street (which merges with Flagstaff Road). There is a large parking area 2.5 km up the steep hill from SH 1.
This tar-sealed spiral winds its way to the summit engraving and lookout at the top of Bluff Hill, the spiritual ending of the South Island. Although Slope Point is the geographically surveyed southernmost point, it doesn’t have the power of Place emanating here. The track passes a series of interpretation panels on the natural and human histories of the area.
Bluff Hill was known as Motupohue to early Maori, roughly translated as ‘island of convulvus’, an allusion to the giant white flower which still grows on the headland.
Europeans also nicknamed it the ‘Gibraltar of the South’. Other European titles include ‘Old Man’s Bluff’.
Bluff was unique in that all the waterfront area was sold prior to the Treaty of Waitangi. Chief Tuhawaiki, the paramount chief of the South Island sold land to James Spencer, an eponymous ancestor for many Europeans in the area.
South Island ▷ Southland ▷ Bluff
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