The quiet Southland farming town of GORE, seventy-one kilometres west of Balclutha, is a pleasant enough transit point at the intersection of routes from Dunedin to Te Anau and Invercargill. Dominated by the Hokonui Hills, Gore spans the Mataura River ("reddish swirling water"), and claims to be the brown trout capital of the world – celebrated by an enormous fish statue in the town centre. During the fishing season (Oct– April) you can pit your wits against a brown trout with tackle rented from B&B Sports, 65 Main St (Tel:03/208 0801) and a license from the visitor centre ($18 per 24hr, $96 full season).
As New Zealand's home of country music, Gore comes alive for eight days in autumn for the Gold Guitar Awards (late May & early June; Tel:03/208 1978, Web: www.goldguitars.co.nz ), when hundreds of would-be country stars and a few established performers roll into town.
Stop by the Hokonui Heritage Centre, on the corner of Norfolk Street & Hokonui Drive (Mon– Fri 8.30am–5pm, Sat & Sun 9.30am–4pm), which contains the i-SITE visitor centre (same hours; Tel:03/203 9288, Web: www.gorenz.com ), a small local history museum (gold coin donation), and the entertaining Hokonui Moonshine Museum ($5), detailing decades of illicit whisky distillation deep in the local bush-covered hills.
Across the street, the Eastern Southland Art Gallery (Mon– Fri 10am–4.30pm, Sat & Sun 1–4pm; free) has a nationally significant collection of art bequeathed by expat Kiwi sexologist, Dr John Money, who amassed works including some majestic African carvings and career-spanning pieces from the private collection of Ralph Hotere.
Fans of vintage aircraft should head 17km west along the road to Queenstown (SH94) to the Old Mandeville Airfield, where you can take to the air on joyrides (from $70 for 10min to $185 for 30min; contact Croydon Aircraft Company Tel:03/208 9755) in a Tiger Moth, Fox Moth or Dragonfly. You're welcome to look around the hangar, where renovation is constantly in progress on all sorts of aircraft, and there's memorabilia-filled restaurant/bar (closed Mon).