Gems of the south: Orepuki ...

05:37, Jan 31 2012
Gemstone Beach
HUNTING FOR GEMS: Beachgoers fossick on Gemstone Beach.
Cosy Nook
SCENIC SPOT: Holiday cribs wait for summer at Cosy Nook, on the Southern Scenic Highway.
Monkey Island
ISLAND VIEW: Monkey Island, near Riverton, is an ideal holiday destination.

There are plenty of things to do in the Deep South, from a day out underground to hunting for gemstones to wandering through an old gold mining town, so in this series we shine the spotlight on some special parts of southern New Zealand.

What: A great section of the Southern Scenic Route - if you're going to one, you may as well visit all four.

Where: Orepuki is about 50 minutes from Invercargill, about halfway between Riverton and Tuatapere. The beach, island and nook are nearby and signposted.

Gems of the south: Orepuki map

What you need to know: Orepuki was once a bustling gold mining settlement of 3000 people, but when the gold ran out, so did the town's fortunes.

Trees in the area appear to grow horizontal to the ground because of the strong and frequent salt winds. Just north of the town is Gemstone Beach where, as the name suggests, you can find semi- precious gemstones: hydro grossular garnet, orbicular jasper, garnet sands, rodinguite quartz, simi nephrite, fossil worm casts, oil shale and sapphire (if you're lucky).

Monkey Island is a great beach, perfect for children. Safe for swimming, ideal for picnics, and a touch of fishing. There are toilets and a changing shed.

Cosy Nook has been described as a "picturesque craggy cove" that shelters fishing boats and cribs. The island Matariki was once a defended Maori pa site.

Take the surfboard if you're heading out because the surf in Te Waewae Bay can be some of the best along the south coast.

»  Macetown
»  Dunsdale Reserve
Cathedral Caves
»  Dolomore Park & Croydon Bush Scenic Reserve
Jack's Blowhole
Clifden Caves
Waipapa Point
»  Bluff hill tracks
»  Orepuki/Gemstone Beach/Monkey Is/Cosy Nook
»  Moonlight Track
Mavora Lakes
Central Otago Rail Trail