The South Island of New Zealand measuring 150'437 km², is the larger then the North Island and is often referred to as "the mainland". Located between latitudes 41° and 47°south, and runs almost parallel to longitude 170°east, separating the southeastPacific Ocean from the Tasman Sea.
The South Island is divided by the Southern Alps, which are part of the San Andreas fault line. The Southern Alps traverse most of the length of the south Island and rise over 3,000 m in places. To the west of the alps lie The West Coast’s rainforests. To the east are the farmlands of the Canterbury and Otago Plains, formed by rivers flowing east from the mountains. In the south, a series of large lakes formed in depressions that were scoured out by huge glaciers, during the last ice age, and the more recent hydro-electric power lakes created by man.
The South Island is often called the Mainland because it existed first, according to Maori legend and is larger than the North Island. About a quarter of New Zealand's inhabitants live on the South Island.
The pace of life is slower in the south, and the people are generally more friendly then their northern neighbours. Minutes after you disembark from the Pictonferry terminal, you will notice that there is less traffic. When you enter shops, everyone is interested to talk with you and the conversation comes easy. Its like the North Island was 30 years ago. The pioneering spirit is still there too, the Southerner’s know how to look out for each other. They work hard and play even harder, that’s why the South Island consistently produces some of the best rugby players in the world.
The South Island has an abundant array of activities to keep everyone amused. If you are into outdoor activities, then this is the place to be. Queenstown, also known as “The Adventure Capital of the World”, is the home of the Bunjy Jump as we know it today. Kaikura has the reputation as one of the best places in the world for whale watching. There are horse treks everywhere, as well as 4wd tours, and mountain biking options galore. Fishing is very popular here, in the lakes, rivers and streams you can catch Brown and Rainbow Trout, Salmon and Whitebait. Sea fishing off the coast can also be very exciting. Hunting for deer, pigs, geese, ducks, rabbits, thar and chamois is a thrill (with the correct permission). All of these species are introduced to New Zealand, so recreational hunting helps regulate their numbers. Surfing possibilities all around the South Island's coasts are endless, the Catlinssurf in the deep south has New Zealand's premier big wave location at Papatowai Beach.
For such a sparsely populated island, the facilities are first rate. There is quality accommodation and award winning restaurants, as well as fine wines, throughout the South Island. I think the best way to experience it is with your own transport, i.e.; campervan or rental car. The biggest complaint we get from fellow travellers is that they did not allow enough time in their travel itinerary for the South Island. Go, see and enjoy the heart of the south.
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