City Centre News

City Centre News highlights new businesses and initiatives in the Invercargill CBD. The aim is to inform the community and to encourage shoppers to come into town.  Two publications – the City Centre News (which runs monthly in The Southland Express) and CBD Catch-up (a newsletter primarily aimed at city centre businesses) – are archived on this page.

City Centre News and Views, a new weekly 15-minute show is hosted by Kari Graber and will air on Radio Southland 96.4FM at 5.30pm on Wednesdays with replays at 11.30am on Fridays and 9.15am on Mondays. The show is also available to download as a podcast at the Radio Southland website.

Nails by Kirsten to provide patrons with unique nail experience

Nails by Kirsten is Esk Street’s newest business having opened yesterday, and promises patrons a unique nail experience.

Operating from 73 Esk Street, owner Kirsten Reid says she is known for her speciality in coloured acrylic, nail art, bling and 3D art, as well as her bubbly nature.

“People enjoy the experience – they want conversation. My clients are chatty and we get on really well.

“The site has got great foot traffic here. I started yesterday and the feedback has been fantastic. People are looking and popping in – there have been over 400 views on our Facebook Page when I checked today.”

The self-taught nail technician said she learnt from YouTube and from watching other nail technicians in their work.

“I started about four years ago and worked on friends and family. I made the decision to start a business in town a month ago. People don’t want to go to a person’s house – it’s quite impersonal,” Kirsten says.

Discounts apply for large groups, such as wedding parties or school balls. For more information visit Nails by Kirsten’s Facebook page,

Finding something Simply Special in the Cambridge Place ArcadeSimply Special

Invercargill’s newest gift and décor store, Simply Special, provide a great range of items from affordable to high-end, right in the heart of Cambridge Place Arcade. It opened on Monday, 27 March 2017.

It will be run six days a week by mother and daughter Joanne and Monique Butterfield, and owner Joanne is passionate about her business having built it up since she bought it in July 2016. Originally only selling online and through parties, Joanne’s vision for the business was always to turn it into a bricks and mortar shop and add vibrancy to the City.Gift items

Joanne said shows like The Block and Shortland Street gave her inspiration for the items she stocks.

“I watch these shows and check out all the décor and props. I don’t watch for the story line – I watch to see what’s on-trend and to check out the rooms,” she said.

Before moving into her current location she was selling out of her son’s shop in Waikiwi two days a week. Its success made her extremely positive about opening in Cambridge Place Arcade. Joanne spent a great deal of time researching to find a storefront in the city-centre that was going to be both affordable and provide a good location for foot traffic. She hopes to see the rest of Cambridge Place Arcade filled again and would love to have a coffee shop across from her.Other gift items

“I love what I am doing and this is my dream job. I have wanted to open a shop for years and now I have one,” she said.

Check the promotions and specials on their Facebook page or on their website,

Tuatara Backpackers gets a new lease on life

A great backpackers is always a good thing for a city’s tourism and the Tuatara Backpackers and Cafe is no exception. New owners Chris Ellenden and Nicola McGilvray have taken on the task of turning it into an asset for the city.

Nicola said her partner Chris was always interested in the building and wanted to strengthen and restore it. “We’ve done lots of renovations and restorations in the past where we’ve fixed things up and sold them on. This was the ultimate doer-upper! He (Chris) works with engineers doing earthquake strengthening as a day job, and we think it’s good to encourage other businesses to do the same.”

A veteran of the arts scene, Nicola has brought her own unique flair to the business. She says patrons will still find a lot of the old favourites on the menu, but new healthy alternatives are also on offer, such as Kombucha drinks, real fruit ice creams, and craft beers, which will be rotated monthly.

“We’re looking at making it a space where people can do art. We have access to a lot of fruit from Central Otago, so we’re also looking at jam making and preserving lessons.” Nicola is also a strong advocate for local products and services and says she is looking to promote local attractions to visitors.

“We want to highlight things such as tours to the Catlins, or exploring the Clifden Caves – things that have fantastic local potential. When people stay here, they may stay an extra night and we’ll have something else for them to do.” Nicola would like to see other locals raise the bar and invest in Invercargill. She hopes their efforts at Tuatara Backpackers lead to a trend that will encourage future investment in our city centre and surrounding area.

Cargill Tea offers authentic Chinese experience in heart of CBD

The first of its kind in Invercargill, Cargill Tea offers tea lovers a unique blend of traditional Chinese teas such as rose milk tea, lemon aloe fruit tea and mango yogurt tea. Tea

The business, which opened at 10 Kelvin Street last week, is the brainchild of three Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) graduates Ben Limng Peng, who studied business, Eileen Joh, who studied fashion, and Rachel Wang, who studied hospitality.

The trio, who are all in their twenties, saw a perfect opportunity to offer Invercargill something different. After graduating from SIT they moved to Auckland but missed Invercargill, and wanted to be back in the city they had fallen in love with as students.Tea

Whilst living in Auckland, Rachel and Ben worked for Hong Kong Dessert, learning the ins and outs of managing a hospitality business. With some convincing they encouraged the owner to help them open Cargill Tea.

“Invercargill is a great small city with very friendly people. We wanted to open a business that would appeal to both the international students and locals,” says Ms Wang.

Cargill Tea is open from 10am – 9pm daily and will soon offer desserts and semi-traditional Chinese food. It hopes to extend the opening hours further to provide some vibrancy in the CBD into the evenings.

You can find them on Facebook HERE.

Top shearers count down with Michael Hill Jeweller

Council City Centre Co-ordinator Kari Graber has been working with organisers of the World Shearing Championships to show the local support for such a great event.Shear it around

Michael Hill Jeweller Invercargill Store Manager Sonya Chalmers, has provided two watches for prizes in the final event which were presented today (9 February 2017) to World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships Committee Chairman,  Tom Wilson.

Shuttles from the ILT Stadium to major hotels in Invercargill have been provided free for the participants and special discounts are being offered by city centre businesses for people with the Shear-it-Around Shuttle Pass and Discount Card. Many businesses in the city have taken part in the shearing-themed Retail Window Decorating Competition and welcomed the many visitors to the city.

City Centre stores back World Shearing Championships


City Centre retailers are excited to welcome the national and international competitors and spectators to the World Shearing Championships held in Invercargill. They’ve shown their support of the Invercargill event by taking part in the shearing-themed Retail Window Decorating Competition. Lusty’s Showcase Jewellers was announced the winner and staff will receive free tickets to check out the shearing competitions.



Casa Mia – True Italian in the Deep South

Invercargill has always been known for its love of food, and its warm and welcoming nature, so an Italian restaurant named Casa Mia (‘my home’) seems a perfect fit.
The restaurant, opened by owner Antonica Damian, is a labour of love.

Cesare Pudda
CASA MIA CHEF Cesare Pudda

“This restaurant is a dream for me,” says Antonica. “I love people… I have always loved people and I wanted to open a restaurant that shared my love of people and my Italian heritage.”
Since September 2016 Antonica has taken over the business full time. She has employed a new Italian chef(originally from Sardinia) who spent 10 years in London perfecting his Italian cooking, with an emphasis on gourmet Italian pizza. Together they make a lovely combination. When you enter for a meal you are treated with authentic Italian pizza, handmade pastas and sauces whose recipes that have been passed down by generations of Antonica’s Italian family.
Casa Mia is Invercargill’s only Italian restaurant and is a great asset to the city.
If you haven’t tried them yet make sure you do. This could be the perfect location for your romantic Valentine’s Day dinner.
Make sure to check them out on their Facebook page – Casa Mia Invercargill.


There’s no place like home

For the three Noble sisters, there was only one place they thought open their fashion boutique titled ‘Cereal Store’ – their home town, Invercargill.

Two months on from opening, the collaborative approach of Sarah, Emily and Katie, has helped to make the store a success. Retail Manager Sarah Noble says prior to starting Cereal Store she was working in a local fashion store over summer with the aim of studying in Wellington in the following year.

Sisters Emily and Sarah Noble in their shop, the Cereal Store.
Sisters Emily and Sarah Noble in their shop, the Cereal Store.

“When that store closed down we sort of had the idea that we could start something that could work! It just fell into place in the way that we all had something different to offer that could make it a success – it was such an exciting and scary time in the beginning planning it all out.”

Sarah says they looked at many locations on Dee, Don and Esk Streets before they chose their current location at 26 Kelvin Street. ”It was so obvious that the store was the perfect ‘boutique’ size and we would be surrounded by other designer stores more similar to what we were planning, rather than chain stores.”

All the clothing brands they stock are exclusive to Invercargill: Lonely, Commoners, Lazy Oaf, The Fifth Label, Finders Keepers, Blak the Label.

“We’ve also got Creeps & Violets jewellery, which is designed and made in Dunedin by a lovely girl called Steph Miller and Lighthouse Candles from Balclutha, which are handcrafted by our precious cousin Mary Woodrow,” says Brand Manager Emily.

Plans for the future involve an online store and designing their own range of clothing.

The Gift Shed – it only looks expensive

Invercargill’s newest giftware shop, The Gift Shed, has established a reputation in its few short months in business through listening to customer feedback, clever positioning, and well-priced unique gifts sourced locally. Owner Kirstin Dixon says she decided to start the store, which opened on October 1, after five years’ previous experience managing another gift store.

Kirstin Dixon
Kirstin Dixon from The Gift Shed at 129 Dee Street.

“When it first opened I talked with people who were walking past to get their feedback on why they didn’t’ come in and they said it’s because we looked expensive.” To put that into perspective, the most expensive item of jewellery in store doesn’t exceed $25. “So we put a sign outside the next day that said ‘come on in – we only look expensive’ and things really started to pick up! “As well as our physical store at 129 Dee Street, we also attend markets such as the Alexandra Blossom Festival and we sell through our Facebook page.

“Among our unique products are plywood pictures. People can send us a picture and we print them on plywood and we can also print on glass, canvas and corrugated iron. We also stock a clothing line made by a local designer which is affordable and on-trend, and handbags which sit around the $50 mark, wallets, man-cave signs, door mats, jewellery, wooden toys for children and more,” Kirstin says. “With such a varied range of unique items, it’s the perfect place to find that special Christmas gift!”

Pop Culture

The store is set to open in its new site on Esk Street tomorrow afternoon, says Jamie, who owned a similar store in Dunedin for eight years before moving down to open Pop Culture at its previous location between New World and United Video in South City.

Owner of Pop Culture Invercargill Jamie Page
Owner of Pop Culture Invercargill Jamie Page

He decided to make the move to Esk Street to reach more customers. “We expect the shop to attract a lot more people here-it will be good for the shop and everyone who is interested in this stuff. There’s a lot more people interested than there used to be due to popular TV shows and such, for example, Game of Thrones, Big Bang Theory, and Marvel and DC movies.” “We stock comics and collectables of every kind; golden, sliver and modern comics; new collectables and figurines, and sometimes vintage items, which are over 30-35 years old.” You can find out more about them through their Facebook page,

City Centre News archive

The City Centre News runs once a month in The Southland Express.


CBD Catch-up newsletters

These are newsletters created for businesses in the City Centre.