South Canterbury is another district of the Canterbury Region in New Zealand. It is situated in the middle of the South Island bounded by the Rangitata River to the north and Waitaki River to the south. South Canterbury stretches from the Pacific Ocean on the east coast to the Southern Alps in the west.
With 42'182 km² of land, South Canterbury is a land of contrasts, The superb Pacific coastline not only acts as the areas gateway to the rest of the world through the port at Timaru, but is also a playground for Surfers, fisherman and "beach bums" and home to many different species of wildlife.
The expanse of the Canterbury plains is dead flat, where the rivers have a distinctive braided appearance and are spread across wide shingle depressions. The Plains are well suited to intensive livestock farming, but is prone to droughts, especially when the prevailing wind is from the northwest, this area has an annual average rainfall of just 75mm.
The amazing McKenzie Country is New Zealand’s equivalent to "The Wild West", The Mackenzie Basin is located in the middle of the South Island with an average of over 300 meters above sea level. The main town in the area is Twizel, and is a good base to discover this district. South Canterbury contains four prominent rivers that cross the Mackenzie Basin, including the Waitaki, the Ahuriri, the Hakataramea and the Tekapo Rivers and lakes Ohau, Pukaki, Alexandrina and Tekapo, also the artificial hydroelectric lakes of Ruataniwha, Benmore and Aviemore. Because of the fact that the Basin is surrounded by mountain ranges it has a distinct climate, perfect for gliding, hang gliding and parapenting, the sky’s are exceptionally clear and perfect for star gazing and Astronomy. The Mackenzie Basin is named after the legendary Scottish shepherd James McKenzie who run stolen sheep here in the early 1800s until he was caught. In 1857 the 704,000 hectares of the Basin was divided among run holders who mainly run merino sheep, who still do very well here. The Mackenzie Country was also used to shoot many of the scenes in Peter Jackson’s lord Of The Rings trilogy.
At 3754 metres Aoraki/Mount Cook is the highest point in New Zealand, it stands in the Southern Alps in South Canterbury in the Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park. Of New Zealand's twenty peaks over 3,000 metres, all except Mount Aspiring lie in the Aoraki Mount Cook National Parks boundary. The Southern Alps contain 360 glaciers, the largest of which is the Tasman Glacier, on the slopes of Mount Cook itself, it is 29 kilometres long. Glaciers cover 40% of the park area. The park is also part of Te Wahipounamu World Heritage Site. In the park you can also go tramping, skiing, and mountaineering. Hunting is also very popular, red deer and Himalayan Tahr can be seen all over the park.
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