What is it that makes the South Island so special? What makes it different from the North, or anywhere else in the world you might be thinking about going to visit? We’ve done more than our fair share of South Island trips, so here’s what we reckon:
The Southern Alps (Ka Tiritiri o te Moana)
Look at a Satellite image of the South Island and the Southern Alps are really easy to see, about 600km / 370 miles of continuous mountains, with permanent snow and ice near the peaks, glaciers sliding down both sides, ancient rainforest draped all around and sparkling lakes of all sizes dotting the landscape. The mountains are nowhere near as high as the alps in North America or Europe, making it’s so easy to get out and enjoy our alps, for absolutely everyone, not just mountaineers. New Zealand’s Southern Alps are one amazing playground!
The West Coast
Pretty much all Kiwis have memories of a family holiday down ‘the Coast’, our family still talks about the kindness of the coasters on our trips there as kids. On the western side of the Southern Alps it’s all there, including easy access to the glaciers, but what surprises people is how close the ocean is and that there’s a thick band of luxurious rainforest between mountains and sea. Where else in the world can you hike on a glacier, walk in a rainforest and dip your toes in the ocean in the same day? On the Coast, you can do all this before you tuck into your whitebait fritter for lunch!
Somewhere along the line, Kiwis picked up a reputation for being friendly. We don’t know how it happened, it’s not like we get taught it in school or anything, but we’ll run with it. We reckon that Kiwi friendliness is turned up a notch when you cross the Cook Strait going south. Give it a try for yourself and see what we mean, when you’re in Nelson, Kaikoura, Wanaka or Punakaiki, just walk up to anyone you see that looks like they live here and ask the for directions or a bit of local info and see what happens. You may not do this back home, here in NZ you do have to be careful too, you’re likely to be killed by kindness! South Islanders are great people and we’re proud to call them our mates!
There’s so much to do, everywhere!
Travelling through all this wonderful countryside is one thing, but you’ve come here to do things too right? Lucky for you, there’s a million handy South Islanders more than willing to help you. You can cruise out on the fiords, bungy jump off a bridge, jet boat up a remote river valley, cycle or walk on miles of amazing tracks and trails, fly over and land on glaciers and mountains, get close to our crazy wildlife, step into Middle Earth and try the best of our ‘new world’ wines. Is that enough? We could go on. Whatever is on your bucket list, there will be some crazy Kiwi sitting in a corner of the South Island whose purpose in life is to help you do it!
It’s Middle Earth
Come on, admit it, even if you’re not a huge Lord of the Rings fan, the idea of visiting a magical land with Hobbits, Elves, Wizards and magic spells is kind of cool. Surely all that scenery on the movies isn’t real, it’s done on a computer right? Wrong! Travelling around the South Island is literally a trip through Middle Earth. If you’re a huge fan, you can make this the theme of your whole trip, or if you’re like us, and loved the movies and are interested to see where things were filmed but not quite going to dress up in your elf costume every day (it happens!), it just adds another little layer of magic to the South Island that make your trip all the more memorable.