Disclaimer: We attended Dig This Invercargill as media guests. However, as always, all opinions are, of course, our own.
When we started our South Island tour, we hadn’t done a whole heap of research in what to do in Invercargill, and so portioned only about a day there. On arrival however, this day turned into 3, because we found there was so much to do and see in and around the town.
One of the major attractions to Invercargill is Transport World, with its two museums, hotel and luxury car rentals, and also, the Dig This complex. Dig This is New Zealand’s first heavy equipment playground, and it allows exactly that: time to play on construction machinery. From mini-diggers right through to 15 ton excavators, there is something for the whole family to enjoy.
We felt so lucky to have the opportunity to go and play with heavy machinery. I had a real nerve racking experience driving over
high mounds of stones in my bulldozer. And watching Sam’s face when he was playing basketball and moving around tyres with his 15-ton excavator was worth every moment.
There are 8 different experiences available at Dig This, plus a group package for up to 54 people. We were lucky enough to do three of the activities, Big Dig, Big Push and the Aggression Session, during our day at Dig This. All necessary training and safety gear will be provided for you on arrival, and instruction will be provided throughout.
The Mini Dig experience is designed for all ages, from 5 and above. The mini diggers are fixed in place, so you are able to concentrate on controlling the arm and bucket without needing to think about moving the machine. This is a great introductory activity, and a fabulous way to introduce younger children to the world of heavy machinery.
Although it is one of the smallest excavators, the 5 ton one isn’t small on fun. Dig, lift and push your way through 45 minutes of activities with one-on-one instruction. This is a great choice for those who want to try out this type of machinery, but are looking for something less daunting than the giant ones.
The newest experience to Dig This Invercargill, Loads of Fun allows you to drive a Skid Steer Loader: a track wheeled machine, that can grab, scoop, push and lift everything. Offering the chance to perfect delicate maneuvers, or smash through walls of 2,000lb tyres. Like with 5 tons of fun, the machine might be a little smaller, but that won’t stop it from packing a punch.
Have you ever wanted to just smash something? Ever felt angry enough to want to crush a car? All those little things that bring you down, here is your chance to fight all your frustrations and use a giant excavator to turn a car into pulp.
Both of us did the aggression session, and it was beyond fun. Firstly, simply smashing anything is cathartic, but beyond that, I’m pretty certain we will never get the opportunity to crush a car again, so we really wanted to make the most of it. Hearing the glass crack and craze as the bucket comes down, the creak of the bodywork and the scrape of metal on metal is not something that should be missed. Add to that the feeling of pure power being at the controls of a 15 ton machine and the experience simply can’t be beaten.
This was the activity that Sam got to try, playing on a huge excavator, driving around, spinning and digging. Use the excavator to lift and pile tractor tires, play bucket basketball and even do a handstand. It’s funny, apparently the handstand doesn’t look hugely impressive from the outside, but inside the cab, it feels like the whole machine might fall over at any moment!
This is a fantastic experience for anyone looking to play with giant machinery, and get a taste of the strength behind these big boys. Bigger doesn’t always mean better, but when it comes to construction machinery, bigger does mean more powerful!
The Big Push allows you to drive a huge 12 ton bulldozer, push around tyres, dig and build your own mounds, and then climb up and over them. There is also the ‘mega mound’ that you can tackle too.
Big Push was my activity on the day, and although building and pushing were fun (I’ve never felt so strong!) climbing over the mounds was my favourite part. Climbing up the hills, all you can see is the sky because of the angle of your cab, and trying to balance on the top is insanely difficult. But the most exciting bit is when your bulldozer over-tips from that top point, and you start to tip back down the other side of the hill – my heart was in my mouth, and I loved it!
Dig and Destroy is a combination of the ‘Big Dig’ and ‘Aggression Session’ activities. When you book a Dig and Destroy package, you save $83, when compared with booking the two sessions separately.
‘Mega Dig’ combines the ‘Big Dig’ and ‘Big Push’ activities. Booking the Mega Dig saves $100 compared with booking the two activities separately.
It might seem like an odd thing to say, but the toilets at Dig This are really worth checking out, whether you need to use them or not! As with all Transport World enterprises, a lot of care and attention has gone into making the bathrooms interesting and unique, and the ones at Dig This have certainly got a unique flair. Both the men’s and women’s are decorated with construction site paraphernalia, and scenes. The instructors at Dig This are as proud of the toilets as they are of the machinery, and took us on a tour of both of them!
To be honest, this was one of our favourite activities in the South Island of New Zealand. Being able to play on construction machinery isn’t something many people get to experience in their day-to-day life, and even if you do work on it, how often do you get to play basketball with an excavator or crush a car? Or build mounds of dirt to climb over and try to balance on top of?
One thing we would have loved was to have an internal camera for each machine recording our faces and reactions – we only thought about that after we completed crushing the final car. Had we thought of it before hand, we would have rigged up the go-pros to record us, because that footage would have been hilarious!
Even if you have never been interested in diggers and the like before, the experience is totally worth every cent, we spent the whole time with big beaming smiles and in fits of laughter from the joy of the experience.
Personally, I would recommend choosing one of the bigger experiences, although they are more expensive, the value of experience you get from one of the combined sessions (‘Dig and Destroy’ and ‘Mega Dig’) is way more than the monetary cost in my opinion.
There are activities at Dig This suitable for children aged from 5 years and above, but the major excavators and bulldozers have a minimum age of 14. It is not necessary for participants to have driver’s licenses.
If you have any issues with sight, hearing or physical mobility, it is best to contact Dig This directly to see if the activity is possible, as there are certain disabilities that would prevent you from being able to participate in the experience.
You will also not be able to participate in the activity if you fail the breathalyzer test that all participants are required to take on arrival.
Dig This opens at 9am and closes at 5pm, 7 days per week. Whilst it is possible to do walk-ins, it is better to pre-book to ensure availability and to guarantee there will be enough instructors on site, especially for the bigger machine activities.
Each activity allows a different amount of time for participation, and many of the experiences have a required training in addition to the operating time, so ensure you allow sufficient time to enjoy the whole of your chosen package.
It is necessary to wear closed toe shoes, so no sandals or jandals, but aside from that, there are no clothing requirements, so just choose something you feel comfortable in!
All prices and times are accurate at time of publishing, but you are best to go to their website in the link above for the most up to date prices.