Tūātapere lies 87 km north-west of Invercargill and 9 km inland from Te Waewae Bay. It started as a sawmilling centre in the 1880s. Through the 1920s and 1930s, seven mills worked the timber from both the Longwood Range in the east and the Rowallan Forest to the west. The town is also a southern gateway to Fiordland National Park, and to the recently developed Hump Ridge and Waitutu tracks. It claims to be New Zealand’s ‘sausage capital’.

Meaning of place name
Tūā: a ceremony performed before a gathering begins; tapere: a gathering for singing songs and playing games. Earlier known as Ryan's Island after a settler of that name. Another name in the early twentieth century was Drummonds Ferry after the ferry operator, Bob Drummond.