12 Oct 2017
The world’s southernmost Starbucks
If you were looking for a Starbucks south of Invercargill, you’d be looking in vain. The world’s most southerly Starbucks is on Esk Street, number 55.
I had a look around Invercargill. A friend said that if you are there three hours, you’ve seen everything, but that’s nowhere close to being true. A few metres away from Starbucks is the World’s Fastest Indian, and there are vintage motorcycle museums in multiple places here.
The botanic gardens are world class – think Kew in England – and there are some remarkable examples of municipal architecture and street art. There are some excellent seafood restaurants – sadly, I did not find the perfect fish and chips in Invercargill – but if you want to try out boutique breweries, you could spend a merry evening or two sampling all the varieties on offer here.
I’m a bit of a Starbucks nut. I collect their souvenir mugs, much to the despair of my wife, and the chance to acquire an Invercargill mug and have a steaming coffee was too good to pass up.
I was heartbroken to discover that either the cafe has sold out of the souvenir mugs, or they don’t have any, for the merchandise display was bereft. Sure, they had some generic crockery and bags of coffee, but not the item I was after.
A tall flat white restored my spirits. I sat down beside what resembled a crackling wood fire and drank in the atmosphere. Beside me, a pole held various direction signs for Starbucks outlets, including one for the most distant Starbucks from Invercargill: Aberdeen, which I have visited. And bought the souvenir mug.
As an aside, Aberdeen is a way short of being the most northerly Starbucks. I must visit Anchorage, Alaska one day.
It is a little odd here, in what must be the most distant city of the old British Empire, to find familiar themes. The war memorials, the Scottish street names, the architecture reminiscent of Imperial Britain, the photographs of the young Queen visiting in 1954.
In some ways, Invercargill has remained a bastion of post-war Britain. England moved on in the Sixties, the UK joined the Common Market, but New Zealand was often said to be more British than Britain. Christchurch is unashamedly English, Dunedin is a Scottish theme park, and Invercargill, well it’s a working town full of British folk who felt right at home under grey and drizzling skies.
I shall return one day. I want to walk with my wife in the gardens and take her further south, to the wilderness areas and untouched rainforests of Stewart Island.
I drained my coffee, went out onto Esk Street, turned left on Dee, and headed down towards Forth and Tyne. There are also streets named Tay and Spey. And if you ever get tired of the boutique beer in the pubs, they all have excellent collections of single malts. Just sayin’.
I’m a sucker for Starbucks because I know that without local knowledge as to the best coffee places in a new town, I can always find acceptable coffee there. Where do you go for your coffee fix in a strange land?