New Zealand provides a fantastic and robust getaway for people who want to take a relaxing break from the stresses of the daily grind. Although the country is the size of the British isles, it is sparsely populated. Visitors are showered by all the natural beauty this small archipelago has to offer without being annoyed or interrupted by noise or pollution.
While the North Island stands as the metropolitan centre, the country’s South Island is an amazing destination for a relaxing retreat with family and friends. A hired campervan would surely take you to that elven journey to New Zealand’s South Island.
However, it would be better if you narrow down your list of destinations for a memorable adventure. Let us give you a roster of what to expect in the enigmatic southland.
There is more to this popular headland facing the Tasman Sea other than the thunderous waves that weathered its rocky surface and created natural architectural wonders over the centuries. The sea’s restless roar is accentuated by the march of fur seals that have made this patch of rock and sand their home.
These sea mammals stay with their colonies throughout their lives. Visitors would be able to observe these endemic species any time of the year. One particular colony can be found at Tauranga Bay, where you can see fur seals spend their days looking for mates, feeding their pups, and searching for food.
For a quick historical tour this cape’s establishment, you can visit the mounted astrolabe that is also at Tauranga Bay. This antiquated maritime navigational equipment was put on display in honour of Abel Tasman. Tasman was the first European that caught sight of the cape on 14th Dec. 1642. While at Tauranga Bay, a short coastal walk that features the rustic elegance of the cape would lead you to the lighthouse.
Westland Tai Poutini National Park
The Southern Alps is not just a monolithic splendour that overlooks the pine forests that carpet the banks of Lakes Matheson and Mapourika. This mountain range has a divine significance among the Māori people, especially for the Ngai Tahu tribe. The indigenous people consider the ice-capped mountains as their ancestors.
Although this region is a renowned sacred ground for the tribal communities, tourists could still enjoy the “glacier country,” by visiting Westland Tai Poutini National Park. The thick forest in the area offers a great spot for bird watchers who want to observe rare species like the Southern Crested Grebe, the White Heron, and the Okarito Brown Kiwi.
You can also test your endurance by taking a trail up the mountains to the Fox and Franz Josef glaciers. This ancient wonder could be heard crackling as it rubs against rocks and boulders as it moves downwards to a distance of as much as 4-metres daily. In order to better understand these majestic glaciers, a visit to the Department of Conservation Visitor Centre could enlighten you about this natural phenomenon.
After a trip to the west side of the South Island, why not take a tour at Lake Tekapo that is within the Christchurch – Canterbury route? It would only take you 3-hours to reach the UNESCO Dark Sky Reserve if you’re driving south-west of Christchurch.
Lake Tekapo is one of the best places to catch the wondrous Aurora Australis (southern lights). The kaleidoscope of celestial colours is best seen between the months of April and September. The Mount John Observatory offers an even better venue to experience these colours bursting in the unpolluted skies of Lake Tekapo.
However, this area west of the bustling streets of Christchurch also has a magnificent pastel of colours splashed on the lake itself. Just like what was stated in the Bible, “as above, so below,” the lake itself is an awe-inspiring wonder to behold. The colour of the water is not your typical pristine blue, but leaning more towards a shade of “milky-turquoise.” The lake’s colour is a result of fine “rock flour” that is suspended in the water.
The “garden city” has endured several environmental disasters in the past. Like the mythical phoenix, the metropolitan capital of the South Island has risen from the immense destruction that was wrought by the massive earthquakes of 2010 and 2011.
One of the creative ways the people from Christchurch responded to the earthquakes that shook their community was the construction of pop-up establishments built from re-purposed container vans. One of the most popular establishments created from such material is the Re:Start container mall.
The city does not run out of cultural blocks and niches where its people can draw inspiration for their creative endeavours. Christchurch is a generous host to several art galleries as well as boutiques where locals and tourist could bathe their senses on classic and contemporary art pieces. Add to that, the city also boasts of a 150-year old Botanic Garden that had withstood the test of time.
BY True New Zealand Adventures
A vacation to New Zealand’s South Island would be incomplete if you haven’t seen the finest bred sheep in the country – the Merino sheep. The Merino wool is highly regarded in several countries around the world. Tourist can catch a glimpse of the farm life in New Zealand, as well as the large herd of sheep at the Wilderness Lodge Arthur’s Pass.
The Lodge household also lets tourists join in the farm routine. You can bottle feed lambs, participate in the traditional shearing of the sheep, and observe how the sheep are herded by man’s best friend. If you’re more of the laid back type of tourist, then, simply enjoy the 6000 acres of farmland this rich countryside has to offer to every tourist hungry for some rest and recreation.
These are just a few of the best destinations you can visit to learn more about New Zealand’s South Island. They present the scenic and unspoilt beauty of the largest island in this small archipelago. So, why not hire a campervan and begin your journey southward in New Zealand’s countryside? It would only take a few minutes to book your dream holiday vacation to spectacular New Zealand.