"The place the late Fred and Myrtle put on the map" Bluff by Kakapo2

Bluff Travel Guide: 31 reviews and 61 photos

If not for the ferry trip to Stewart Island, there would not be a reason to visit Bluff. Well, if you are not on a mission like me.

I used our time before and after the trip to Stewart Island to follow the traces of Fred and Myrtle Flutey.

I had never met the two of them but their story has touched me, and every time I see the little film about them in Canterbury Museum in Christchurch - which again precedes every visit to the Paua House in this museum - I leave with a happy smile.

Fred and Myrtle were and - even after their deaths in 2000 and 2001 - still are Kiwi icons, a part of Kiwiana, which again is everything and everyone that makes New Zealand unique.

This loving and so likeable old couple opened their house in Bluff to the public because they had transformed it into the Paua House, the walls of their living room covered in paua shells. Fred collected and sanded them down to their shining beauty, Myrtle dusted them. More than one million visitors had a look at the prized shells in their house, they received tourism awards and became advertising stars on TV.

I can recite the quotes from the film in Canterbury Museum because I have taken all friends and acquaintances to the museum to see the reconstructed Paua House with the original shells. The relocation took place because after Fred and Myrtles death there was a family row, and in the end the house was sold. No-one had an interest in keeping the Paua House open to the public.

So the next best thing to do was to lease the whole content of the living room, including carpet, to Canterbury Museum. Well, it would probably have been better to lease it to Southland Museum in nearby Invercargill. But the most important thing is that this unique piece of Kiwiana was not lost and that the legacy of Fred and Myrtle Flutey is cherished, even if it is 609 kilometres from home.

Read more on the history and the exhibit at Canterbury Museum on my Christchurch page, including photos in a travelogue.

On my Bluff page you will find out what has become of the original Paua House and if there are any hints of paua love in the township today.

As said, Bluff is the gateway to Stewart Island if you decide to travel by boat.

Having said that under normal circumstances this town would not really be worth a visit. Let me correct this to saying it is not really worth a detour. But if you happen to be there, there surely are some sites to explore and some great views to enjoy.

Bluff, New Zealand’s southernmost town, lies at the end of a peninsula that forms the western side of Bluff Harbour and Awarua Bay, with the port located in the relatively narrow entrance channel. It is on State Highway 1, which terminates one kilometre to the south of the town at Stirling Point. It has less than 2000 inhabitants – and no-one can complain if you call it sleepy.

The not always top up-to-date website address is www.bluff.co.nz

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Remote, quiet, some interesting sites and sights
  • Cons:Not a very exciting place
  • In a nutshell:Not worth a detour but worth a few looks if you happen to be there
  • Last visit to Bluff: Feb 2012
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
  • Add to Trip Planner (?)
  • Report Abuse

Reviews (21)

Comments (1)

  • kokoryko's Profile Photo
    Mar 4, 2012 at 1:31 PM

    I was about to board for Steward Island, but finally stayed with you in Bluff, Sissi. Very strange people, strange idea to make an abalone house; these shells are fascinating, but probably only to take a few nice specimen home, but not more. . . !
    I’d be more interested with the beautiful nature of the edge of Gondwana or the oyster festival and walk along the coast. Very interesting page, very off beaten path ;).


“Visit dream destinations but keep your eyes open”

Online Now


Top 1,000 Travel Writer
Member Rank:
0 0 1 0 3
Forum Rank:
0 0 0 1 6

Badges & Stats in Bluff

  • 21 Reviews
  • 48 Photos
  • 0 Forum posts
  • 721PageViews

Have you been to Bluff?

  Share Your Travels  

Latest Activity in Bluff

Travel Interests

See All Travel Interests (5)