Travel through New Zealandís South Island and youíll feel like you are visiting scenic wonders from all points on the globe. It is said the South Island offers the true essence of New Zealand. Here you could hike on millennia old glaciers, come face to face with some of the strangest birds on earth or partake in some of the wackiest sports imaginable.
The South Island is the larger of the two principal islands of New Zealand. It is separated from the North Island by the Cook Strait and bordered on its east coast by the Pacific Ocean and to the west by the Tasman Sea. Other than a few off-shore southern islands, it is a clear run from here down to Antarctica.
While only a quarter of the population lives here, tourism is a huge earner for the South Island. Fiordland, Abel Tasman, Aoraki/Mt. Cook and Westland National Parks as well as Queenstown, Kaikoura and The Marlborough Sound districts are regarded as the main tourist destinations in the South Island and amongst the Top 10 destinations in the country. Numerous walking and hiking paths, some of which, like the Milford and Routeburn Tracks have wide international recognition.
Principal cities have connecting air services and the island has its main rail line hugging the eastern coast from Picton (ferry terminal) to Christchurch. From here, you can take a ride across the picturesque Southern Alps (Tranz Alpine) to Greymouth on the west coast. There are no trains down the western side of the island, but a network of sealed roads. Despite the relative short apparent distances between places, it is wise to leave extra time for travels by car. One reason is that most roads are only one lane in each direction and secondly, you will have a photo op around almost every bend in the road.
Some key experiences on the South Island include kayaking in Abel Tasman National Park, wine touring and tasting along with sampling green-lipped mussels in the Marlborough region, getting to the very top of the island at Cape Farewell, glacier hiking at Franz Josef, overnighting on a boat in either Milford or Doubtful Sounds and going for a drink at the ice bar in Queenstown.
The abundant and varied flora and fauna looks right out of Darwinís imagination. Due to its geographic isolation and lack of natural predators, the bird population has fostered some unique examples from the nocturnal and flightless Kiwi (the national symbol) to the rubber chewing kea parrot and the fairy penguins the smallest of their species.
There are many tours that will show you the sights and wonders of the South Island but if you want the freedom to wander as you will, having your own transport, we can arrange a rental car or motorhome. As for accommodation, youíll find everything to fit your wallet.