Australian Natural Adventures

nature travel, wildlife tours, adventure travel and general travel to Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific


New Zealand: the South Island

New Zealand's South Island is the rugged heart of the country, with mountains, fiords, forests and islands. It has an impressive array of wildlife, and an adventurous nature second to none.

The Nelson region, in the north, is known for its year-round sunshine (by New Zealand standards), beaches and National Parks, is also home to artists and artisans, wineries and a coastal, relaxed social life.

Adjacent to and west of Nelson is the Marlborough region, where the famous Marlborough Sounds offer everything from luxury charter launches to close-up views from the seat of a kayak. Centered on Blenheim are vineyards, including those of the flagship Sauvignon Blanc variety. The region is New Zealand’s largest grape-growing and wine-making region with 65 wineries and some 300 grape-growers.

Along the sparsely populated West Coast lies some of the most dramatic scenery in New Zealand; an area of mountain peaks, impressive glaciers, tranquil lakes and raging rivers, lush rainforest and magnificent coastline. Stretching 600 km in length, the West Coast has either wholly or partially located within its boundaries five of New Zealand's 13 National Parks, and the southern West Coast is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Jade and gold is fashioned into artifacts and jewellry at Hokitika. Mt Cook centers the West Coast, accessible by plane from either side of the mountain range.

tandem paragliding over QueenstownQueenstown is the adventure capital of New Zealand, if not the world, where bungey jumping and many other extreme sports originated (OK, we know bungey jumping derives from the Tower Jumpers of Pentecost Island in Vanuata, but AJ Hackett brought the idea to the rest of the world). There's lots to do in and around Queenstown, from jet boating to quieter mountain walks. A little to the south is Te Anau, the gateway to the serenely awesome Milford Sound, and the first class tramping (hiking) of the Milford Track. Nearby is the less well-known, but none-the-less beautiful Doubtful Sound.

Off the southern tip of the South Island is Stewart Island, much as it was last century, but still the best place in New Zealand to find and see a Kiwi - this time the bird, not the person (or the fruit!). Across to the east coast is the small city of Dunedin, a university city with a strong Scottish heritage (and a Cadbury chocolate factory!) and the Otago Peninsula with its mainland colony of Royal Albatross, the rare Yellow-eyed Penguin, and New Zealand Fur Seals, nearly lost due to hunting. It's all very accessible, and operators such as Elm Wildlife Tours bring you face to face with the wildlife while giving you an understanding into the life of these wonderful and fascination animals. You can get a glimpse here: Otago Wildlife with Elm Wildlife Tours.



Did we mention the sheep?



The North Island

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