Visiting The South Island Of New Zealand

If spectacular scenery and amazing activities appeal to you, then the South Island of New Zealand is the place to go. Boasting an incredibly diverse landscape ranging from rugged mountain ranges to sheltered waterways and stunning coastline, the South Island is a feast for the senses. The range of activities in the South Island is extensive with adventure sports for thrill seekers, a plethora of outdoor activities for nature lovers and plenty of options for rest, relaxation and pampering. The South Island is also well set up for tourists and accommodation options are varied and plentiful, catering to all budgets.

Nelson is the Northern gateway to the South Island, located on the largest fishing port in Australasia and surrounded by fertile countryside; it is a town with bountiful fresh produce from both the land and the sea. Foodies will enjoy exploring the many wineries, chic restaurants and trendy cafes and experience fresh food at its best. Funky art galleries and a rich Maori history will enthral culture lovers while the surrounding National Parks provide plenty of opportunity to commune with nature. Nearby Marlborough Sounds is a must see and is best explored by water. Local tourist companies offer a range of cruise and tour options including hosted kayak tours exploring the maze of winding waterways and spectacular coves. The Queen Charlotte Track is a 71 km track winding through the Marlborough sounds and can be done by either foot or mountain bike. The track boasts spectacular scenery and takes between 3 to 5 days to complete. There is a good range of accommodation along the track including tent sites, cabins, motels and hotels. Accommodation in Nelson covers everything from eco lodges and farm stays to luxury hotels and motels and everything in between.

Another town worthy of a visit is the coastal town of Kaikoura nestled at the base of a mountain range and right on the coast. Kaikoura has a stunning combination of snow capped mountains and pretty beaches with a range of activities based around each. Whale and dolphin watching are popular past times along this stretch of coast, and the surrounding mountains provide many opportunities for hiking, mountain bike riding and bird watching. Kaikoura is also rich in Maori culture and visitors can take a cultural tour of the area. The Coastal Pacific Train Journey passes through Kaikoura and is considered one of the most scenic train journeys in the world, and is a unique way to see the area. Accommodation in Kaikoura is geared to all types of travellers and all budgets, with a great range of options to suit everyone.

The city of Dunedin on the south eastern coast of the South Island is New Zealand's oldest city. Located at the head of a natural harbour and surrounded by rugged bush covered hills and valleys, the city has both natural beauty and rich historical value with stunning architecture from the late Victorian era. The nearby Otago Peninsula is internationally renowned as a wildlife reserve and is home to the breeding grounds of the rare royal albatross, fur seals and colonies of yellow-eyed and little blue penguins. CNN has voted the Otago Peninsula as one of the ten most romantic places in the world to propose. Cruises of the area are a great way to see the local wildlife in its natural habitat and a relaxing way to spend a day. Accommodation in Dunedin is world class and ranges from backpacker's accommodation to luxury hotels and everything in between.

Invercargill is the southernmost city in New Zealand, and is known as the heart of the Southland area. Garden lovers will adore Queens Park with its 80 hectares of stunning garden beds and tree lined walkways. Half an hour away is the fishing port of Bluff, famous for its Bluff oysters and fantastic seafood which supplies the local restaurant industry with its fresh delights. For bird watchers, a short ferry ride to Stewart Island is a must as it is home to a huge range of native birds and the only place in New Zealand where you are likely to see a Kiwi in its natural habitat. Nugget Point, along the coast in the Catlins is home to fur seals, sea lions, yellow-eyed penguins, spoonbills and gannets. Invercargill accommodation is good quality, with Invercargill being a popular destination for conferences. There are a good range of hotels and motels along with caravan parks and camping grounds for the budget conscious.

By: TraceyLC