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South Island New Zealand Map
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Map of South Island  New Zealand - North Island Zoom out to New Zealand North Island Nelson Region Nelson Region Marlborough Region Marlborough Region West Coast Region West Coast Region Christchurch Canterbury Region Christchurch Canterbury Region Lake Wanaka Region Lake Wanaka Region Queenstown Region Queenstown RegionFiordland RegionFiordland Region Central Otago Region Central Otago Region Dunedin - Coastal Otago Region Dunedin - Coastal Otago Region Southland Region Southland Region
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Fast Facts

Area:151,215 sq km
Capital City:Christchurch
Language: English and Maori
Time Zone: GMT/UTC +12
Dialing Code: 64
International Airport:Christchurch, Dunedin and Queenstown.
National Parks: 10 national parks - Abel Tasman, Arthur’s Pass, Fiordland, Kahurangi, Mount Aspiring, Mount Cook, Nelson Lakes, Paparoa, Rakiura, Westland
South Island Featured Holiday Accommodation Properties
South Island Tourism Information

About South Island

The South Island of New Zealand is divided into 10 tourist regions, including:

The South Island is an adrenalin junkies paradise. It is well known for its breath taking scenery, lakes, rugged mountains, lush forests and raging rivers.

the larger of the two main islands of New Zealand and it is the 12th largest island in the world. The Maori name for the South Island is Te Wai Pounamu which means "The Water of Greenstone", greenstone being jade which the Maori used to make jewellery, was sourced from the rivers of the South Island.

The South Island is home to Mt Cook (Aoraki) located in the Southern Alps it is New Zealand's highest point at 3,754 m (12,316 ft) above sea level. The largest city is Christchurch, with Dunedin, with its Scottish heritage, is the second largest centre.

The Regions

Nelson is a diverse region offering visitors everything from a large art and craft community, fresh food and produce markets to exquisite beaches and world-renowned national parks. Known as the sunniest region in New Zealand it offers easy access to 3 National Parks - Abel Tasman, Nelson Lakes and Kahurangi. Read more.

The region of Marlborough is famous as one of New Zealand’s largest wine growing areas. Whilst in this region make sure you visit the stunning Marlborough Sounds, comprising the Queen Charlotte, Kenepuru and Pelorus Sounds. The port at at Picton is the southern terminal for the inter island ferry service to the North Island and Wellington. Activities in Marlborough include wine tasting, hiking, horse riding and mountain biking. Read more.

West Coast
The West Coast region lies between the Tasman Sea and the Southern Alps. It offers visitors 600km of mountains, glaciers, stunning blue lakes, raging rivers, rainforests forests and spectacular coastline. The main towns of the West Coast are Greymouth, Hokitika and Westport. There are so many outdoor activities to experience in the West Coast including: whitewater rafting, canyoning, cave rafting, jet boating, kayaking, horse riding, wilderness hiking. The West Coast is home to the famous Franz Josef and Fox glaciers, both of which are easily accessed. Read more.

Christchurch - Canterbury
Canterbury encompasses some of New Zealand's best mountain recreational areas. The vast Canterbury Plains, appear like a patch work quilt from the top of the southern alps. Christchurch provides access to the South Island via its major international airport and access to many of the region's ski fields and national parks including Mt Hutt, and Mt Cook. Christchurch, is known as the city of churches and as the garden city.It has a lively café and cultural scene. Read more.

Dunedin - Coastal Otago
Home to the countries first university, Dunedin is also known as a student city and as such offers visitors a vibrant, energetic culture. Beyond Dunedin you will find a wealth of natural wonders on the Otago Peninsula and the Catlins including the magnificent wilderness areas, home to gannets, albatross, sea lions and penguins. The splendid Otago coastline stretches from the Waitaki River to the Clutha River on the South Island's eastern coast.

Lake Wanaka
Lake Wanaka is a popular tourist destination. Lake Wanaka has a well deserved international reputation for its beauty, crystal clear blue waters and tranquility. Lake Wanaka is ideal for fishing, water skiing, hiking, kayaking, jet boating, canyoning, whitewater rafting, horse riding, hang-gliding, and golf. During winter, Wanaka is a destination for skiers and snow boarders, providing access to nearby ski resorts of Treble Cone, Cardona and Waiorau Nordic ski areas. Read more.

Queenstown is situated on the shores of Lake Wakatipu and surrounded by the rugged mountain peaks of the Remarkables, it is considered the "Adrenaline Capital" of New Zealand, offering steep alpine skiing, jet boating, white water rafting and bungy jumping all in one day. The skiing and snowboarding are fabulous. For those who prefer a more sedate holiday golf and hiking is also available. Read more.

Central Otago
The Central Otago region is New Zealand's most inland region. It has a famous goldmining past. There are several old gold mines that can still be visited. It is a plateau located in a semi desert environment, and because of its dry climate Central Otago is a living museum, scattered with historic features well preserved. Central Otago is fast becoming one of New Zealand's leading tourism destinations. Read more.

The Fiordland region is an exquisite World Heritage Area offering some of New Zealand’s most breathtaking views. The deep carved fiords, towering peaks, and rainforest make this one of the most spectacular regions. Here you will find the world renowned Routeburn, Kepler and Milford Tracks.

Southland region encompasses the southern tip of the South Island and Stewart Island. Here you can experience towering rainforests, alpine tussocks, rolling fertile farmlands and long expanses of golden beaches.


The South Island is dominated by the Southern Alps and Canterbury Plains and has ten national parks - Abel Tasman, Arthur’s Pass, Fiordland, Kahurangi, Mount Aspiring, Mount Cook, Nelson Lakes, Paparoa, Rakiura, Westland. These wonderful parks include World Heritage Sites, fiords, glaciers, lakes, ski resorts, coastline, forests, and hiking tracks.

The South Island is also home to New Zealand's highest mountain, Mount Cook. The summit, which is actually three peaks, is 3,764 metres above sea level. It use to be 10 metres higher, but in December 1991, an avalanche containing 10 million cubic metres of snow, ice and rock fell reducing its height. Mt Cook is located in the Mt Cook National Park, which comprises about 70,000 hectares.


Weather conditions differ depending on which part of the island you are in. The inland alpine areas of the South Island can be as cold as —10°C in winter.

In summer, the average maximum temperature ranges between 20-30ºC and in winter between 10-15ºC, however, the weather in New Zealand can change unexpectedly as cold fronts or tropical cyclones blow in quickly.

Getting there

By Air
The majority of visitors arrive on the South Island of New Zealand by air and consequently there are three international airports: Christchurch, Dunedin and Queenstown.

By Boat
Ferry links run between the north and south islands.

Cruise ships visit New Zealand, but there are no regular passenger ship services so this is not any easy method of travel to New Zealand.

More information

For more information about the South Island visit the official New Zealand Tourism web site

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