Truly the scenic wonderland of New Zealand, it’s easy to run out of superlatives when describing an island relatively sparsely populated by man but with an abundance of breathtaking natural gems.
The South Island is the largest of the two main islands of New Zealand, but the least densely populated. The Southern Alps run through the middle of the island, separating it into the East and West Coast, with very little inhabitants located in the middle. The West Coast is wild and mostly untamed with cascading glaciers and vast forests. The East Coast is bordered by cities and towns with a huge range eco-tourism attractions.
The spectacular Southern Alps run down the spine of the South Island; to their east the patchworked agricultural landscape of the Canterbury plains, the ‘english’ city of Christchurch and the renowned whale-watching base of Kaikoura; at their heart, the alpine glories of Aoraki Mount Cook National Park.
The rugged West Coast is hemmed between the Tasman Sea and the imposing mountain chain, making for spectacular contrasts in the surrounding scenery and creating fabulous opportunities for once in a lifetime experiences, such as a helicopter flight up onto the Franz Josef Glacier followed by a guided hike through the glacial ice formations.
Neighbouring Fiordland’s enchanting glacier cut valleys, cascading waterfalls and ancient forests should be on your ‘to do’ list and the scenic flight back from Milford Sound to Queenstown, over lakes, mountains, waterfalls and forests will take your breath away. Finally, the sunshine rich town of Blenheim is the ideal base from which to explore the vineyards of Marlborough and sample a sauvignon blanc or two.