Travel Guide to New Zealand South Island

March 30, 2014 | Travel

Matai Falls Catlins

Lonely and wild – that’s how to briefly but concisely describe the atmosphere in the South Island of New Zealand. With spectacular landscapes and visually stunning environment, you’re going to get more than you ask for your vacation or stay.

What you’re expecting in South Island are not the fancy resorts, overwhelming number of tourists, or shopping areas. Instead, the place is filled with nature’s most beautiful assets, where the Alps meet and thrive with the music of the rugged coastlines and wonderful plains.

And of course, you meet one of the most hospitable people on Earth, as New Zealand’s South is home to the friendliest locals in the country.

Now you don’t want to miss these places when you’re about to pack your things and get there soon:

1 – Matai Falls in the Catlins

This picturesque sight is situated in the southeast corner of the South Island. The Catlins prides itself of being the home of the Matai Falls – a definite attraction in this part of the island. In order to reach the falls, there’s a 30-minute forest walk. Vehicles can be parked at the Southern Scenic Route.

But aside from the falls, there are quite a few other places to explore and visit. For one, the landscapes are breathtaking, ranging from rolling farmlands to temperate rainforests and sweeping coasts.

2 – Moeraki Boulders

If you’re into the weird and odd, go see the Moeraki Boulders. Large stones and mineral formations are common in the country but nothing is odder than these large and spherical concretions that resulted from the shoreline erosions in the past. Some of the boulders actually measure a little over two meters in diameter. According to the Maori legend, these boulders originated as food washed ashore from the wreck of a gigantic sailing canoe.

The site is best viewed during low tide and taking photos will ideally bring some specific memories of the South Island since these boulders are not found anywhere else. Located at Koekohe Beach, it’s only about seventy five kilometers north of Dunedin.

3 – Milford Sound

If you’re not fond of rain, Milford Sound isn’t for you. It’s one of the wettest places in the country, but the constant raining is the reason for the remarkable waterfalls. Milford Sound is located inside the Fiordland National Park. You can get there from Queenstown either by plane or a 295-kilometer road trip. For us, it’s more fun doing that road trip with the wonderful landscapes and rainforest you expect to see along the way.

4 – Queenstown

You don’t go to New Zealand without visiting Queenstown. It is one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations and that is for good reason. It provides a more “urban” appeal compared to pure landscapes and rainforests in the previously mentioned destinations. However, you won’t be denied by nature in this one since the town actually sits on the shore of the beautiful Lake Wakatipu. Adventure is the name in Queenstown, with activities such as sky diving, jet boating, horse trekking, river rafting, and bunjy jumping available for the whole year round. If you’re more into relaxation though, you want the walking and hiking trails, or perhaps the magnificent sightseeing tours coupled with spa, good food, and shopping.

Rest assured, you won’t get enough of New Zealand’s South Island once you get there. Even an entire summer of fun in this tourist destination seem to be not enough to enjoy life there. One can practically stay for life and still be awed by the beauty of the region, away from the busy streets and industrial smoke of the west.

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