Travel, Mike Yardley: Under-rated Gore is the heart of Southland

Egregiously under-rated as a destination charmer, Gore is your classic New Zealand town with a stout and golden-hearted community spirit, bustling town centre brimming with surprises and welcoming locals who are instinctively hospitable — no finishing school required.

First up, I made my way to Hokonui Moonshine Museum which is the subject of an ambitious multimillion-dollar upgrade, known as the Maruawai Project.

Gore District Arts and Heritage curator, Jim Geddes, is a walking cultural powerhouse and shared with me the exciting plans to refresh the city’s cultural heart. The redeveloped museum and new distillery will offer a much more immersive and interactive encounter with Gore’s storied history with illicit grog in the Hokonui Hills.

If you’ve seen the museum’s pre-existing dioramas, audio-visuals and artefacts, it’s about to be vividly enhanced. Be sure to savour a taste of Old Hokonui, made to the original recipe, as part of your visit — and definitely stock up on some bottles for enjoyment back home! The museum also does a sterling job in paying homage to “The Story of Sgt Dan” which celebrates the contribution of breakfast cereal, the Fleming family and their landmark Creamoata factory to the Gore story.

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