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New Zealand - South Island Regions and Districts Map

The regions in the South Island of New Zealand include Nelson-Marlborough, West Coast, Canterbury, Otago, and Southland. These regions are also divided into districts.
New Zealand - South Island Regions and Districts Map

South Island

The appeal of the South Island lies in the snow-capped peaks and glaciers of the Southern Alps, the west-coast fjords, the wild coastline, the expanses of pastureland and the old colonial settlements and mansions.


The Southland region, an area of rolling uplands and former swampy lowlands traversed by rivers, occupies the southern tip of the South Island.
The Fiordland area in the southwest is one of the most inaccessible and least populated parts of New Zealand. Here the deep valleys gouged out by glaciers were filled with water when the sea level rose and became fjords. On the east side of the mountains the valleys were dammed by terminal moraines and became long narrow lakes, such as Lake Te Anau (the largest lake on the South Island), Lake Manapouri, Lake Monowai and Lake Hauroko.

Haast Pass

The Haast Pass (named after the German geologist Julius von Haast, first director of Christchurch Museum), the lowest passage through the Southern Alps (564m), provides a link between the Southland region to the west and the area round Lake Wanaka in the Otago region. The road follows an ancient Maori track to the deposits of greenstone on the west coast. The asphalted road was eventually completed in 1965. It runs through grandiose rugged scenery that is often shrouded in cloud. In winter the road is rarely blocked by snow, since in this area the precipitation is mostly rain. There are a number of attractive rest areas.
The Maori track over the pass was rediscovered by Charles Cameron in 1863 on his way from Dunedin to look for gold on the west coast. Mount Cameron (1763m), on the west side of the pass road, is named after him. Cameron was followed soon afterwards by Julius von Haast.


Church at night in Invercargill.
Invercargill, New Zealand's southernmost town, lies in an open plain on the banks of the New River estuary. It was laid out from 1856 onwards by the town planner John T Thomson on a geometric plan, with broad streets and open spaces. The town takes its name from William Cargill, one of the Scottish founding fathers of Dunedin; the prefix inver refers to its position at the mouth of a river. Many of the streets are named after Scottish rivers.
Originally the New River estuary served as a natural harbor, but its functions as a harbor were later taken over by Bluff, at the southern tip of the South Island. The lush Southland pastures were for many years the town's main source of income. Later a number of large slaughterhouses and meat-freezing plants were established, and a further boost was given to Invercargill's economy by the construction of an aluminum smelter at Bluff.
Lennel House, a mansion set in a beautiful garden, was built in 1880 by John T Thomson; it is still in private ownership.
The town's principal churches, all built in brick, are close together: St John's (1887; Anglican), the neo-Byzantine First Church (1915; Presbyterian) and St Mary's (1894-1905 by FW Petre; RC). St Mary's has a beautiful interior in white Oamaru limestone.

Southland Museum and Art Gallery

The town's principal sight is the Southland Museum and Art Gallery. It has fine natural history collections from the Southland region (including petrified wood from nearby Curio Bay) and relics of the wild days of the whalers, but its particular treasures are its examples of Maori arts and crafts. The art gallery is housed in a striking pyramidal building at the entrance to Queen's Park.
Address: Queens Park, 108 Gala Street, New Zealand

Tuatara House

The Tuatara House provides near-natural conditions for specimens of this lizard-like reptile that dates back to the time of the dinosaurs and is now very rare.
Tuatara House is located in the Southland Museum and Art Gallery.

Kelvin Chambers

The Kelvin Chambers (1864) recall Southland's short-lived independent provincial government; the region broke away from Otago in 1861 but was reincorporated in it in 1870.

Queen's Park

Queen's Park, (80ha) with various sports grounds, a duck pond, a game park and a children's playground, is entered from Queen's Drive.

Town Hall

The town hall, a symmetrical building built in 1906 by ER Wilson, reflects the prosperity of the town in those days.


There are a number of natural attractions in the Invercargill surrounding areas.

Anderson Park and Art Gallery

7km north of the Invercargill town center is Anderson Park (24ha), with a mansion that belonged to Robert Anderson, a local entrepreneur who presented the whole property to the town. It now houses a large art collection which includes some fine Maori portraits, early views of Bluff and some good examples of New Zealand modern art. Also in the park is a magnificently carved Maori meeting house.
Address: McIver Road, New Zealand


30km south of Invercargill, at the southern tip of the South Island, is the port of Bluff (pop. 2,500). It lies on a promontory reaching out into the Foveaux Strait under the Old Man Bluff (265m), from which there are wide views. The port's main trade is in frozen lamb and it also has a small fishing fleet. The oysters and crayfish of the Foveaux Strait are much valued. The town's maritime museum is devoted to the history of the town and the oyster fisheries.
There is a ferry service between Bluff and Halfmoon Bay on Stewart Island.

Aluminium Smelter

On Tiwai Point, on the northeast side of Bluff Harbour, is New Zealand's only aluminum smelter, a joint New Zealand-Japanese enterprise. Since the discovery of large deposits of bauxite at Weipa on the Cape York peninsula in Australia (Queensland), aluminum oxide has been shipped from there to Tiwai Point and smelted in Bluff, the huge quantities of electricity required being provided by the hydroelectric station on Lake Manapouri. The smelter employs some 1200 workers. The aluminum is mainly exported to Japan.

Southern Scenic Route

An attractive alternative to the inland route to Balclutha and Dunedin on Highway 1 is the Southern Scenic Route coast road running through Catlins Forest Park (Catlins). Via Fortrose, Waipapa Point (lighthouse) and Otara you reach the delightful Curio Bay, whose main attraction is a fossilized kauri forest and frequent sightings of Hector's dolphins in the bay. A short distance further on is the magical Waikawa Bay. Continuing to Balclutha, do not miss detours to Cathedral Caves, Purakaunui Falls, Jack's Blowhole or Nugget Point.

Oreti Beach

10km west of Invercargill is the beautiful sandy Oreti Beach.


Gore (pop. 11,000), Southland's second-largest town, lies at an important road intersection northeast of Invercargill in an area of fertile pastureland, with some arable farming (grain) and horticulture. The former landscape of swamp and tussock grass was brought into cultivation by the early settlers.

Country Music Festival

Gore is known beyond the bounds of New Zealand for its Country Music Festival, held annually in June.


At Mandeville, 30km northwest of Gore, is a homestead of pioneering days, now protected as a national monument.

Sheep-Shearing Championship

The South Island's sheep-shearing championship is held annually in Gore.


Albatrosses breed on the Otago Penninsula in the only colony in the world near civilization.
The Otago region, which is bounded on the north by the wide Waitaki River and on the south by Catlins Forest Park, takes in a green and often mist-shrouded coast, in which the chief towns are Balclutha in the south, Dunedin in the center and Oamaru in the north. The interior of the region is sparsely populated; here the climate is of continental, with hot, dry summers and very cold winters.
Central Otago consists of a plateau broken up by the folding movements in the Southern Alps, falling sharply to the west but with a gentler gradient to the east. The Clutha, one of New Zealand's wildest and most abundant rivers, has carved out deep gorges in its westward course from the alpine lakes Wanaka and Hawea. During the ice ages the landscape was reshaped. The hills, worn smooth by the ice, have rounded contours and are covered with tussock grass. The long fjord-like lakes were formed by glaciers and closed off by moraines.
In the west the Otago region reaches into the Southern Alps. Its highest peaks are Mount Aspiring (3027m), Mount Earnslaw (1816m) and the Remarkables, near Queenstown, which rise to almost 2500m.

Lake Wanaka

Calm waters of Lake Wanaka.
70km northwest of Queenstown is the quietly beautiful Lake Wanaka, set in a magnificent landscape of gentle mountains. It is 45km long, with an area of 193 The Clutha River, the mightiest on the South Island, flows out of the southeast corner of the lake.
From Queenstown there are two routes to Lake Wanaka, the shorter being Cardrona Road (SR 89) which requires some driving expertise. It branches off Highway 6 at Arrow Junction and after traversing the pass follows the Cardrona River where the beautiful surroundings are reward for the strenuous drive.
The easier alternative is the 50km Highway 6 via Cromwell which passes through the broad Clutha River valley on its way to Wanaka village.

Mountain Panorama

From Lake Wanaka, in good weather, there are magnificent panoramas, with the peaks in Mount Aspiring National Park visible in the distance. The country round the lake is particularly beautiful in autumn, when the many deciduous trees brought here from Europe take on their russet coloring. The finest view of the lake is from Glendhu Bay, 14km west of Wanaka village.


Lake Hayes near Wanaka.
At the southeast end of the lake is the little township of Wanaka (pop. 2000), the largest settlement for many kilometers round. It was known as Pembroke until 1940.
There are good skiing areas at Cardrona (southwest of Wanaka) and on the Treble Cone (west of Lake Wanaka).

Lake Hawea

A very calm Lake Hawea.
15km north of Wanaka village is Lake Hawea, the smallest of the three alpine lakes in the Otago region (30 km, area 140 Highway 6 runs along the west side of the lake on its way to the Haast Pass. The village of Lake Havea, at the south end of the lake, occupies the site of a Maori village that was attacked and destroyed in 1836.
The damming of the lake under the Clutha River hydroelectric scheme in 1958 raised the water level by around 20m. The water stored in the lake serves as a reserve supply in winter, when the catchment area of the Clutha River is blocked by ice.
The lake, which offers good trout and salmon fishing, is 410m deep, so that its bed is 64m below sea level.


Doorway in the historic town of Arrowtown.
20km northeast of Queenstown, in the valley of the Arrow River and at the foot of the Crown Range, is the old gold-miners' settlement of Arrowtown (pop. 1,000). Due to its charming setting it has now developed into an important tourist center.
Gold was found here in 1862, but only a year later gold mining suffered a severe setback when many prospectors were drowned in a devastating flood.

Miners' Houses

Many old miners' houses have been restored in recent years. The old jail in Cardigan Street dates from 1875.

Lake District Centennial Museum

The former Bank of New Zealand building (1875) now houses a branch of the Lakes District Centennial Museum, which is devoted to the history of the area round Lake Wakatipu. It has displays on gold mining.

Chinese Quarter

An unusual feature is the Chinese quarter on the west side of the town. In the late 1860s many east Asians came here to work in the gorges of the Arrow and Shotover rivers. They were undemanding and hard-working, and this involved them in disputes with the white prospectors. As a result they were required to live outside the town. Their little stone houses and brick cottages have now been restored, as has the Chinese shop in Bush Creek.

Arrow River

On the Arrow River, below the town, visitors can hire pans and try their hand at washing for gold.


Macetown, another ghost town, lies on the Arrow River 15km upstream. The town was abandoned because of its remote situation and harsh climate, and all that now remains is three buildings and a plant for crushing the gold-bearing ore. The old road through the gorge to Macetown, built in 1883, is suitable only for all-terrain vehicles, on horseback or on foot, and there are many fords to cross. It is advisable to inquire about the state of the road before setting out. There is no overnight accommodation in Macetown.


Alexandra (pop. 5,000), the largest town in Central Otago, lies on the Clutha River, 200km northwest of Dunedin and 100km southeast of Queenstown.
Alexandria grew up during the gold rush of the 1860s and was originally called Lower Dunstan. It was later renamed in honor of the Danish princess Alexandra, who married the Prince of Wales in 1863.
The alluvial gold in the surrounding area was soon exhausted, but there was a second gold rush in the 1890s when the river beds were dredged out in a search for further deposits. There are now few reminders of the gold-mining days in Alexandra. The construction of reservoirs and irrigation channels has promoted the development of flourishing fruit plantations (stone fruit, particularly apricots). The expanses of green in the valley are in sharp contrast to the bare arid hillsides.

Shaky Bridge

The picturesque Shaky Bridge (now for pedestrians only) was built in 1879.

Sir William Bodkin Museum

The Sir William Bodkin Museum illustrates the methods used for working gold in this area. Old photographs show, for example, the dredging of river beds and the large numbers of Chinese who came here to try their luck.

Tucker Hill Lookout

From bare Tucker Hill, northeast of Alexandra, there are good views of the little town in its setting of fruit plantations and of the junction of the Clutha River (dredged out in the quest for gold) and the winding Manuherikia River. The peaks of the Remarkables outside Queenstown can sometimes be seen in the distance.

Old Gold-mining Settlements

Old gold-mining settlements (round trip 180km).
Alexandra is a good base for a tour of gold-mining settlements in Central Otago. The tour begins on Highway 85, which runs north to Omakau (pop. 200), then northwest to Matakanui, now almost a ghost town, at the foot of the Dunstan Range. The route continues to Drybread, the decayed gold-mining town of St Bathans and Hills Creek, and then returns through the Ida valley to the old gold-mining town of Oturehua, now occupied by farmers. The old Golden Progress workings and the Hayes Engineering Works have been partly preserved or restored. Then go by way of Lake Idaburn (curling and skating in winter) to Ophir, where the finding of gold in 1863 attracted thousands of prospectors. The old courthouse and post office here have been preserved. An old suspension bridge then crosses the Manuherikia River to return to Alexandra.


10km northwest of Alexandra on Highway 8, on the River Clutha, is the little township of Clyde, where gold was found in 1862. The settlement, originally called Dunstan, grew up at the south end of Cromwell Gorge and at one time had a population of 4000 gold miners, with banks and hotels. It has preserved a few buildings from the time of the gold rush.
When the gold was exhausted the water of the river, previously used for gold panning, served for the irrigation of fruit plantations.

Clyde Historical Museum

A prominent feature of the little town is the memorial to the gold miners in the north. The old courthouse (1864) houses the Clyde Historical Museum, which vividly illustrates the history of gold mining in this area, including the spectacular gold robbery of 1870, when the gold stored overnight in the supposedly secure local jail disappeared.
Address: 12 Fraser Street, New Zealand

Historic Buildings

Some buildings dating from the days of the gold rush are the Athenaeum (1874), a theater and concert hall, the former town hall (1869), now a hotel, the old Hartley Arms Hotel (1865), Dunstan House (1900), Naylor's Victoria Store (1874), now a restaurant, the old post office, St Michael's Church (1877; Anglican), St Dunstan's Church (1906; RC) and St Mungo's Union Church (1894).


30km northwest of Alexandra, at the junction of the Clutha (coming from Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea) and the Kavarau (coming from Lake Wakatipu), is the new township of Cromwell, built here in substitution for the old one at the north end of Cromwell Gorge, now submerged by the waters of Lake Dunstan.

Kawarau Gorge Mining Centre

8km west of Cromwell on Highway 6 is the Kawarau Gorge Mining Centre (part of the Otago Goldfields Park), where visitors are introduced to the laborious processes of gold working.

Kawarau River

White-water enthusiasts will find plenty of scope on the Kawarau River, whether in kayaks, rubber dinghies or jet boats. The supreme experience for the daring, however, is a bungee jump from the Kawarau Bridge.

Old Cromwell Historic Village

The most important buildings from the old gold-miners' settlement, founded in the 1860s, have been re-erected as Old Cromwell Historic Village in Melmore Terrace. The Cromwell Museum has interesting material on the history of the town.
Address: Melmore Terrace, New Zealand



100km northeast of Alexandra, in the barren Maniototo plain, is Naseby. Once an important gold town, with anything up to 5000 prospectors grubbing for gold in the area from 1863 to the 1930s, it now has a population of about 150.
To supply the gold miners with the water they needed long water channels were constructed, and these are now used for irrigation. Some old buildings still survive to recall the great days of the past, such as the Briton Hotel, a brick building of 1863, St George's Church (1865; Anglican) and the Athenaeum, (1865). The Maniototo Early Settlers Museum is housed in a building of 1878.
There are pleasant walks to the Welcome Inn, on a hill above the little town, and to Naseby Forest (25, planted with imported conifers (Douglas fir, larch, pine).

St Bathans

60km northeast of Alexandra, at the foot of the Dunstan Range, is St Bathans, another gold-miners' town that has lost its one-time importance. Of its once numerous hotels there remains only the Vulcan Hotel (1869). Other old buildings are St Alban's Church (1882; Anglican), St Patrick's Church (1892; RC), and the rather showy post office with the postmaster's house.

Blue Lake

The Blue Lake occupies a great trench excavated in the search for gold, 800m long, 50m across and over 50m deep. The deep blue color of the water is clouded only by the inflow of surface water.

Otago Goldfields Park

The Department of Conservation looks after the widely scattered remains of gold mines and gold-miners' settlements in Otago. Information is available from DoC offices in Alexandra, Queenstown and Dunedin.
Address: Box 91, New Zealand


90km southwest of Dunedin is the little settlement of Lawrence, founded in 1862 and named after General Sir Henry Lawrence, a hero of the Indian Mutiny (1857-8). It became the first gold-mining town in Otago after a Tasmanian prospector named Thomas Gabriel found rich deposits of alluvial gold nearby, in Gabriel's Gully, and announced his find in a newspaper. Within a short time the little settlement grew to a population of well over 10,000 - twice the size of Dunedin. Gold ceased to be worked in the area in the late 1930s and Lawrence has now become the commercial center of a wide farming area.
Lawrence retains a number of Victorian buildings dating from heyday, including the courthouse and the post office. There is a local museum in Ross Place.

Golden Gully

Near the village is the Golden Gully (Gabriel's Gully), where the first gold in the region was discovered. Adjoining it is the Weatherston goldfield.


11km southeast of Lawrence is the little village of Waitahuna, which in the 19th C was also a flourishing gold-miners' town.

Anthem House

Anthem House was for many years the home of John J Woods, a local government official who composed the music of God defend New Zealand, the country's national anthem.


This beautiful but remote and sometimes marshy stretch of upland country, with its many waterfalls and surf coast, lies in southeastern Otago. It takes its name from a whaler who acquired large tracts of land from the Maoris in around 1840. The government would not recognize the purchase and his descendants were allowed to keep only 92ha.
The great forests on the east coast attracted large numbers of loggers. Sawmills were established and the timber was shipped from Hinahina. The only settlement surviving from the time of the timber boom is Owaka (pop. 400), at the entrance to Catlins Forest Park.

Catlins Forest Park

The entrance to Catlins Forest Park can be reached from Highway 92 or, coming from the west, via Wyndham. The park office, with a small exhibition on the Catlins area, is in Owaka.
Catlins Forest Park, 600 of largely virgin forest, extends along the Catlins River to the sparsely populated coastal area, lashed by heavy surf. There are a number of attractive trails through the forest and along the Catlins River.
On the coast there are numerous inlets and caves. The name Cannibal Bay recalls the bloody deeds of the 1830s, when the notorious Maori leader Te Rauparaha pressed his raids as far as the south of the South Island.
Yellow-eyed penguins breed on the coast, but are very rare elsewhere in New Zealand. Colonies of seals can be seen at some points along the coast.


Cliffs at Oamaru once a wealthy wool town.
Oamaru, 120km north of Dunedin on Cape Wanbrow, is the commercial center of northern Otago. The town rose to great prosperity in the 19th C. The climate is warm and dry. Inland from the town are extensive market gardens; beyond these, further inland, is a region of intensive sheep farming.
The white Oamaru limestone worked in many quarries in the surrounding area was used in the construction of many public buildings in New Zealand and even in Australia. The stone is easy to work when freshly quarried but hardens when exposed to dry air.


On the coast at Oamaru there are some delightful, relatively small penguins that can be observed close up. The yellow-eyed penguins are more shy. These birds, associated more with the Antarctic than with New Zealand, are driven in by the waves and waddle along the beach or up the cliffs.

Historic District

The town's principal sights can be seen on a signposted Historic Walk, which starts from the Boer War memorial in Thames Street. The most notable monuments are the Court House (1883 by Forrester and Lemon), the simple Old Post Office (1864), the imposing New Post Office (1884) with its noticeable clock towers, and the Athenaeum (1882), which houses a small regional museum.

Forrester Art Gallery

Opposite the post offices are two imposing banks designed by RA Lawson, the National Bank (1871) and the Bank of New South Wales (1883), which is now occupied by the Forrester Art Gallery.
Address: 9 Thames Street, Private Bag 50058, Oamaru, Otago 9444, New Zealand


Notable churches are St Luke's (1865; Anglican), at the corner of Itchen Street and Thames Street, St Paul's (1876; Presbyterian), in Coquet Street, and St Patrick's Basilica (1893; RC), in Usk Street.


There are a few natural attractions in the Oamaru surrounding area.

Totara Estate

8km south of Oamaru on Highway 1 is the Totara Estate, where frozen meat was first produced in this area. Visitors can see the old slaughterhouses and production plant. The trim farmhouse (1868) stands in the shade of tall trees. On the nearby hill is a monument to Thomas Brydone, who established frozen-meat production in this area.

Clark's Mill

4km further south is Clark's Mill (1865), the only surviving watermill in the Oamaru area, now preserved as an industrial monument.


The pretty fishing village of Moeraki has a mainly Maori population. In the past there was a whaling station here.

Moeraki Boulders

Unique rock formations of the Moeraki Boulders.
35km south of Oamaru, scattered about on the beach, are the Moeraki Boulders - massive spherical rocks up to 3m in diameter and weighing several tonnes. In Maori tradition they are calabashes and food baskets thrown ashore from the ancestral canoe long ago and since turned to stone.
The scientific explanation is that the boulders were formed on the seabed millions of years ago by the deposit of chemical concretions on hard cores. When the seabed was thrust upwards they were washed out of the softer rock by the surf and left on the beach. Some of them are still embedded in the rock. The net patterns on the surface of the boulders were produced by the extrusion of yellow calcites.
Although the boulders are strictly protected as natural monuments, the smaller ones, regrettably, are steadily eroding.


Balclutha, the commercial center of a prosperous sheep-farming area, lies 80km southwest of Dunedin on Highway 1, on the lower course of the mighty River Clutha. The river divides into two arms, enclosing the fertile island of Inchclutha. The Gaelic name of Balclutha (town on the River Clutha or Clyde) points to the Scottish origins of the first European settlers here.

River Clutha

In the past the River Clutha and many of its tributaries were rich in alluvial gold. Around the turn of the 19th C. almost 200 dredgers gouged out the bed of the river, leaving the huge spoil heaps still visible today.
In 1878 Otago suffered a hard winter with an abundance of snow, and with the thaw there was severe flooding in the Clutha Valley. As a result the southern arm of the river changed its course and Port Molyneux lost its harbor.


An hour drive north of Dunedin on Highway 1 is Waikouaiti, the oldest European settlement in Otago.
Two handsome wooden buildings dating from the pioneer days are the Presbyterian Church (1863) and St John's Church (1858; Anglican). St Anne's Church (RC) was built in 1871. The old farmstead of Matanaka at the north end of the bay also dates from this period.


Waikouaiti's safe bathing beach attracts many day visitors. The dunes were consolidated around the turn of the 19th C by sowing grass and later by planting pines.

Settlers Museum (Waikouaiti District Museum)

The Early Settlers Museum, housed in a former bank dating from the turn of the 19th C, contains mementos of the early settlement.

West Coast

The West Coast or Westland region extends for more than 500km along the west coast of the South Island, from Jackson Bay and the Haast River in the south to Karamea in the north. It is a narrow coastal belt of dense rain forest backed inland by high mountains that is nowhere more than 50km wide. The region has a population of only 35,000, which has been steadily declining for many years.
The principal towns in the region are Graymouth, Westport and Hokitika. It has many relics of the pioneer days of loggers and gold miners - although the infrastructure has been much improved since then by the building of roads.
Abel Tasman and Captain Cook sailed along this inhospitable coast, and the hinterland was later explored by Thomas Brunner and Julius von Haast, who discovered the region's extensive coalfields.

Lowland Rain Forest

The high rainfall on the west coast has produced a type of rain forest that is unique in the world. This lowland rain forest has a variety of species rarely found anywhere else. Recent proposals to exploit its economic potential by extensive felling have met fierce resistance from conservationists all over the world.

Mount Aspiring National Park

Mount Aspiring River.
Mount Aspiring National Park headquarters and visitor center, Wanaka; ranger stations at Glenorchy on Lake Wakatipu and Makarora on the Haast Pass road (Highway 6).
New Zealand's second-largest national park, a region of alpine landscape bordering on Fiordland National Park to the south, centers on 'New Zealand's Matterhorn', the 3027m Mount Aspiring. The mountain was given its name by the surveyor John T Thomson, who saw it from a distance in 1857. It was first climbed in 1909. Round this massive rock pyramid other peaks, form a mountain rampart when seen from a distance. Lake Wanaka and Lake Wakatipu are fed by rivers flowing down from the Mount Aspiring massif. The national park displays almost the complete range of glacial features, including glacier lakes, ground, lateral and terminal moraines, roches moutonnées, hanging valleys and glacial striations. The main access route is the Haast Pass road (Highway 6), an impressive mountain road that runs along the east side of Lake Wanaka and bounds the National Park on the north.
The road from Wanaka through the Matukituki Valley runs close to Mount Aspiring. It can often be first seen from Glendhu Bay, southwest of Wanaka.

Routeburn Track

Starting from the road to Milford Sound, this track (3-day walk) runs over the Harris Saddle (1279m) to the north end of Lake Wakatipu at Kinloch. It is often walked as an extension to the Milford Track.

Rees-Dart Track

This 4-day walk - almost a round trip - begins at Paradise, near the north end of Lake Wakatipu, and ends at the Invincible Mine in the valley of the Rees River.

Wilkin Valley Track

This track follows the course of the Wilkin River and then runs close to the eastern boundary of the national park to the junction of the Wilkin with the Makarora River, to the south of the Makarora ranger station (Highway 6).

Paparoa National Park

Vegetation at Paparoa National Park.
The Paparoa National Park lies on the west coast of the South Island, roughly half way between Graymouth and Westport.
Paparoa National Park visitor center, in Punakaiki, has an exhibition about the flora and fauna of the park, with a display explaining the origin of the Pancake Rocks. Advice about walking in the park can also be obtained here.
There are a number of short trails leading to interesting places on the wild coast - the Punakaiki Cavern Track, the Truman Track to Perpendicular Point, and the Te Miko Track. There are also a number of longer walks into the hills and the valley of the Pororari River, notably the Punakaiki-Pororari Loop Track and the Upper Pororari Track.

Pancake Rocks

View of Pancake Rocks.
The principal feature of interest in the small national park, only established in 1987, is the Pancake Rocks, a curious limestone formation in which the strata look like piles of pancakes. In the rocks are blowholes, through which, when there is a heavy surf, water spurts high into the air.
The warm marine current that passes this way and the shelter afforded by the rocks produce a microclimate in which a rich subtropical vegetation (including many nikau palms) flourishes.
The best way to see the Pancake Rocks is to follow a footpath alongside the sea, which starts at Dolomite Point. On the way there are safe platforms looking straight down into the seething blowholes. There are also beautiful views inland, as far as the Southern Alps in good weather.

Inland Pack Track (Razorback Road)

A very strenuous but worthwhile trail is the Inland Pack Track, following a route used in the 1870s, which runs through the hills between the valley of the Punakaiki River to the south and the Fox River to the north. This tough walk takes at least 3 days. (Note that there are no bridges over the rivers and streams.)


The little town of Hokitika lies in a setting of great scenic beauty on the west coast. At the time of the gold rush in the 1860s it had a population of over 10,000, with hotels, theaters and even an opera house with seating for 1400. Gold is still worked in deep shafts in the Goliath Mine, but the revenue from timber is now much greater than from gold mining.
In the 19th C. Hokitika was briefly the seat of the provincial government of Westland, and the old Government Building still survives. In front of it is a statue of 'King Dick', as Richard Seddon, the local Member of Parliament for 27 years and prime minister of New Zealand in the 1890s, is known here. At the town's main intersection (Sewell Street and Weld Street) is a clock tower commemorating the New Zealanders who fell in the Boer War and the coronation of King Edward VII.


Fine jewelry is made from greenstone (jade and nephrite) in specialist workshops. The local deposits of greenstone, or pounamu, were known to the Maoris before the arrival of Europeans.

St Mary's Church

The town's principal landmark is the neo-Romanesque St Mary's Church (RC), built in 1914 in place of an earlier church erected by Irish immigrants in 1865.

West Coast Historical Museum

The West Coast Historical Museum has a collection of Maori weapons and jewelry in greenstone, as well as extensive material on the days of the gold rush.
Address: Box 180, Hokitika, West Coast 7900, New Zealand


Lake Kaniere

20km south of Hokitika are the idyllic Lake Kaniere and the impressive Dorothy Falls.

Hokitika River Gorge

25km south is the Hokitika River Gorge, with an old suspension bridge, a popular destination for excursions.


30km south of Hokitika is the village of Ross (pop. 1000), in an area that in the past yielded great quantities of gold. In 1907 a nugget weighing almost 3kg was found; it was presented to King George V by the New Zealand government as a coronation gift. After a temporary slowdown, new gold deposits were found in the 1980s, which are now exploited in opencast mines.
The local visitor center, housed in a restored gold-miner's cottage, has a small museum of relics of gold-mining days. St Patrick's Church (RC) was built by Irish immigrants in 1866.
From Ross the Water Race Walk and the Jones Flat Walk (each 1 hour's walking) lead to the old goldfields.


Greymouth (named after Governor George Grey) is the main commercial center on the west coast and an important port. Its economy was originally based on gold mining, later on coal and timber, and then also on cattle and dairy farming.
The port, situated at the mouth of the Gray River, is constantly exposed to the threat of flooding, either by the river or by the wild Tasman Sea. Flood protection measures were completed in 1991. Rain is frequent and often goes on for a long time, and a bitterly cold wind known as the Barber blows down the Grey valley. These climatic factors have contributed to the steady decline in population since the end of the 19th C.


13km south of Greymouth is the reconstructed gold-mining settlement of Shantytown, which attracts crowds of visitors throughout the year. The 1860s are recalled in this open-air museum of old buildings transferred to the site from other parts of the country and furnished in period style. They include a church, Coronation Hall, a general store, stables, a jail, a hotel, a hospital, a printing office and the workshops of various craftsmen. A steam railroad line of 1897 runs through the dense forest to an old sawmill. There are old gold-miners' claims at which visitors can try their hand at panning for gold, selling any they find to gold dealers.
Address: Rutherglen Road, Paroa, Greymouth, West Coast 7870, New Zealand

Woods Creek Track

11km east of Shantytown is the Woods Creek Track (c 1 hour), running through an area that was turned upside down by gold miners in the 1860s.


The old gold-miners' settlement of Kumara (pop. 300) lies 25km south of Graymouth on the road that runs through the Otira Gorge to Arthur's Pass. In its heyday it had a population of anything up to 4000. In the nearby Taramakau River there was large-scale gold prospecting as recently as 1982.

Point Elizabeth Walkway

11km north of Graymouth, at Raparahoe, is the start of this attractive trail (c 4 hours each way), which runs along the coast through dense primeval forest with tree ferns and nikau palms. It affords fine views of the coast and the highest peaks of the Southern Alps.

TranzAlpine Express

There is a rail link between Greymouth and Christchurch on the east coast over Arthur's Pass. The 5-hour run on the *TraNZAlpine Express, passing through the Otira Tunnel and the gorges in Arthur's Pass National Park, is a great tourist attraction. The west coast line to Hokitika carries only goods.


12km east of Graymouth on Highway 7 is the Brunner coalfield, with four coal mines that were once of great importance - Dobson, Wallsend, Stillwater and Taylorville. The rich deposits of coal on both sides of the Gray River were discovered by Thomas Brunner while surveying the west coast in 1846-8; mining started in 1864. An accident in the Brunner mine in 1896 cost 67 lives.

Lake Brunner

32km southeast of Graymouth, in a setting of great scenic beauty, is Lake Brunner, the largest lake on the west coast, which is ideal for fishing and boating. It was formed in a basin scooped out by a glacier and dammed by terminal moraine.
The lake is known to the Maoris as Moana Kutuku (lake of the white heron). Herons are still occasionally to be seen on the shores of the lake.

Brunner Industrial Site

An old suspension bridge over the Gray River leads to the Brunner Mine, now closed down and scheduled as New Zealand's first protected industrial monument, Brunner Industrial Site. Industrial heritage trails and displays explain the history of coal mining on the west coast.

Lake Hochestetter

50km east of Graymouth, on a side road off Highway 7, is Lake Hochstetter. Named after the Austrian geologist Ferdinand von Hochstetter, it was enlarged by the construction of a dam in 1876. Good fishing; picnic spots.


Reefton lies in the valley of the Inangahua River, 80km northeast of Graymouth and about the same distance southeast of Westport. Once a flourishing gold-mining town, it is now merely a supply center for farmers, forestry workers and workers in the local coal industry. Its former importance as a gold-mining center is reflected in its name (reef town); it was also known as Quartzopolis.
Notable buildings that bear witness to the town's gold-mining heyday are the Church of the Sacred Heart (1878), St Stephen's Church (1878), the courthouse (1872) and the School of Mines (1886), which has a rich collection of minerals.

Victoria Forest Park

North and east of Reefton extends Victoria Forest Park (2090, in which are a number of old gold and coal mines (warning: the old and often overgrown shafts can be dangerous). Also within the park, 40km south of Reefton, is the ghost town of Waiuta, where gold was worked until 1951. Information about walks in the gold- and coal-mining area can be obtained from the Department of Conservation office in Reefton.

Black's Point Museum

2km east of Reefton is Black's Point Museum, which vividly illustrates the history of gold mining in the area.

Wealth of Nations (Globe Battery)

At Crushington, 2km east of Reefton, are two monster machines, the Wealth of Nations and the Globe Battery, in which the gold-bearing quartz was crushed.


The little port of Westport, the second-largest place in the West Coast region, lies on the north side of the estuary of the Buller River. In spite of its isolated location it is an important commercial center for the northern part of the west coast, serving a large area.
Its economic resources are the abundant supplies of timber in the surrounding area, the huge coalfields in the hinterland of the Paparoa Range and the limestone quarries on Cape Foulwind, which have promoted the development of a large cement industry.

Coaltown Museum

The Coaltown Museum displays the history of coal mining.
Exhibits include sound effects from actual underground mines, minerals and a photographic display of uranium & mineral exploration using helicopters.
Address: Box 216, New Zealand


Two popular beaches are Carter's Beach (5km from the town in the direction of Cape Foulwind; surfing) and North Beach (suitable for families).


Cape Foulwind

Waves crashing at Cape Foulwind.
20km west of Westport is Cape Foulwind, with a handsome lighthouse. The cape was given its name by Captain Cook in 1770, who had to battle with contrary winds here.

Tauranga Bay

Tauranga Bay, with its friendly seal colony, attracts many day visitors.

Mitchell's Gully Goldmine

A gold mine established in 1866 by the great-grandfather of the present owner stands on the road from Westport to Punakaiki. It is still worked with equipment from the 19th C.


Karamea, near the northwestern tip of the South Island, is the end point of the Heaphy Track (Abel Tasman National Park). It has a dry, sunny climate. In 1874 incomers from Nelson settled in the fertile surrounding area. Until the building of a road from Westport in 1915 Karamea could be reached only by sea or via the Heaphy Track. A severe earthquake in 1929 destroyed the harbor at the mouth of the river.

Wanga Peka Track

Southeast of Karamea is the start of the Wanga Peka Track, which runs through the Northwest Nelson Forest Park.

Fenian Range

North of Karamea is the Fenian Range, in which is a system of karstic caves. In the Opara Valley are a number of natural bridges formed by the collapse of caves. The Honeycomb Caves, in which the remains of extinct bird species were found, can be entered only with permission from the Department of Conservation.


A calm Lake Ellesmere in Canterbury.
The Canterbury region, bounded on the east by the Pacific and on the west by the Southern Alps, extends for some 100km from east to west and 300km from north to south. Within this area are great plains, torrential rivers and New Zealand's mightiest mountains.
The region has a population of around 440,000, most of them living near the coast. The largest town is Christchurch. The density of population decreases rapidly towards the interior of the South Island and the mountains. Between 1986 and 1991 the population of the whole region increased by 2.2 per cent.

Arthur's Pass National Park

View over Arthur's Pass National Park.
The national park is open throughout the year. The main summer season is in December and January. There is skiing in winter.
The tourist potential of this wild and romantic range was realized early on. The first sightseeing tour was organized in the 19th C, running over the pass to the west coast and continuing south to the Franz Josef and Fox glaciers. In time the view gained ground that the government must take steps to protect the unique vegetation of this area and in 1901 700 of land round the pass were declared a nature reserve. After various extensions to the protected area Arthur's Pass National Park was established in 1929. With an area of almost 1000, it is New Zealand's fourth-largest national park.
The scenery of the national park shows great variety, since the park takes in the two very different sides of the Southern Alps. The altitude ranges between 245m on the Tamarakau River and over 2000m on mounts Rolleston, Murchison and Franklin. Rainfall ranges between an annual 5000 mm on the west side and 1700 mm on the drier east side.
Among the finest and best-known walks from Arthur's Pass village are the Devil's Punchbowl Walk (c 2 hours), the Bridal Veil Nature Walk round the 130m high Bridal Veil waterfall (c 2 hours), the Dobson Nature Walk (c 4 hours) and the Bealey Valley Walk (c 4 hours).

Arthur's Pass

Waterfall at Arthur's Pass.
Warning In winter, when there may be sudden falls of snow, the Arthur's Pass Road may be negotiable only by automobiles with chains, or sometimes not at all. Because of the sharp bends and steep gradients in the Otira Gorge vehicles with trailers, caravans and vehicles over 13m in length are banned.
When gold was found on the west coast in 1863 the authorities in Christchurch were concerned to find some way over the barrier of the Southern Alps into Westland. Most prospectors travelled by boat to Hokitika on the west coast and the recovered gold was also shipped from there. But transport overland was safer and more reliable than the voyage on the wild Tasman Sea. There was of course the narrow Harper Pass that had been used by the Maoris to get to the Westland greenstone deposits; but the swarms of prospectors and their heavily laden pack horses soon reduced the track to an impassable state.
In 1864, therefore, two surveyors, Arthur and George Dobson, set out on horseback through the valleys of the Waimakariri and Bealey rivers. Arthur found the pass that now bears his name, but the steep descent on the west side to the Otira River, and particularly the Otira Gorge, were difficult to negotiate.
In 1865 work began on the construction of a road over the pass. An army of almost 1000 workmen armed with picks and shovels hewed the road out of the rock, and within a year a coach was able to drive on it from Christchurch to Hokitika. Beef cattle, too, were driven over the pass to supply the building workers and gold miners.
In the 1920s a railroad line was laid broadly parallel with the road, bypassing the Otira Gorge in a tunnel 8.6km long.
After the railroad line was completed the camp that had accommodated the track layers and tuneless became an alpine holiday resort, from which beautiful trails lead into the majestic mountains. Here too is the national park visitor center, with displays on the natural history of this part of the Southern Alps and on the construction of the road and the railroad line.

Temple Basin Ski Area

At the higher levels there is an abundance of snow in winter and the Temple Basin skiing area attracts large numbers of skiers.

Lewis Pass

100km west of Hanmer Springs Highway 7 goes over the Lewis Pass (907m). The mountain pass road, which links the Canterbury region with the northwest coast of the South Island, was completed in 1937. This route was well known to the Maori tribes of the region, who used it on their way to the greenstone deposits in the rivers on the west coast. Cannibal Gorge, near the summit of the pass, recalls the days when the Maori caravans making for the west coast took slaves with them as carriers; then on the way back, it is said, the slaves were killed and eaten.
A number of short trails start from the summit of the pass (e.g. Tarn Nature Walk, Lewis Pass Lookout Walk). The St James Track (70km) over the Ada Pass and Anne Saddle takes 5 days.

Lake Sumner Forest Park

At Springs Junction, 20km west of the Lewis Pass, a road goes off on the south to the beautiful Lake Sumner Forest Park. There are attractive trails in the dense forest of southern beeches, round Lake Sumner, the Robinson River and Lake Christabel.

Hurunui Hotel

One place of interest on the road, which runs through beautiful scenery, is the Hurunui Hotel (1869, restored).

Maruia Springs

Past the Hurunui Hotel is the little spa of Maruia Springs, with hot springs.
Address: Private Bag 55014, Orchard Road, New Zealand

Hanmer Springs

140km north of Christchurch, situated in a sheltered hollow at an altitude of 366 m, is the spa and holiday resort of Hanmer Springs (pop. 1,200), noted for its abundant thermal springs. It is a quiet little place, surrounded by Hanmer Forest, with the hills of the Hanmer Range (skiing in winter) as a backdrop.
The springs, which had long been used by the Maoris for therapeutic purposes, are said to have been discovered in 1859 by the manager of a farm at Culverton. Soon afterwards the government built a sanatorium, a psychiatric clinic and a soldiers' convalescent home.

Waiau River

For adventurous visitors there are jet-boat trips and white-water rafting on the nearby Waiau River, as well as bungee jumping from the 31m high bridge over the river.

Molesworth Station

In summer all-terrain vehicles can travel from Hanmer Springs to the remote Molesworth Station, the largest in New Zealand. This former sheep farm with some 1800 of grazing land has gradually been acquired by the state. In the past repeated burning of the grass, overgrazing and a plague of rabbits led to severe erosion. Part of the land has now been improved on sound ecological principles and provides grazing for cattle rather than sheep.

Hanmer Forest

Hanmer Forest covers an area of 17,000 ha, much of it of natural southern beech. Various exotic species were planted by convict labor in 1902. Nowadays the new plantings are mainly of Californian pine and Douglas fir, timber from which is sold mainly in Christchurch. There are trails of varying length through the forest, and the scenery can also be seen from the 16km Forest Drive road; permission to drive on it must be obtained from the local visitor center.

Hanmer Springs Spa

The modern spa establishment has water at a temperature of 38°C.
Address: Box 30, New Zealand

Lake Ohau

Mountains and old building on Lake Ohau.
Lake Ohau, in a beautiful setting 30km west of Twizel, forms the boundary between the Canterbury and Otago regions. This glacier-formed lake has an area of 60 In good weather the snow-capped peaks of the Southern Alps are mirrored in its waters. It is linked by canal with Lake Pukaki and Lake Tekapo - all three lakes being integrated into the hydroelectric scheme on the upper course of the Waitaki River.
Lake Ohau is a popular holiday resort in summer, attracting many fishing and boating enthusiasts and campers.

Mount Sutton

Visitors come to the Lake Ohau area in winter to ski on Mount Sutton, high above the lake.

Lake Tekapo

Sunset on Lake Tekapo.
Lake Tekapo, the largest of the three glacier lakes in Canterbury's Mackenzie Country (88, lies 50km northeast of Twizel in a magnificent setting under the peaks of the Southern Alps, its milky turquoise waters surrounded by slopes covered with tussock grass.


The village of Tekapo (pop. 400) at the south end of Lake Tekapo is famed for the Church of the Good Shepherd, built in 1935 for the shepherds on the huge sheep farms of the Mackenzie Country. Through the chancel window there is a view of Lake Tekapo and the snow-capped summits of the Southern Alps. Beside the church is a bronze figure of a sheepdog carved by a sheep-farmer's wife.

Lake Tekapo Power Plant

At the south end of the lake, near the village of Tekapo, is a dam built in 1954, which regulates the level of the lake. It is normally between 704m and 710m above sea level. The first hydroelectric station, Tekapo A, was built in 1951. The second, Tekapo B, was built in 1977 and supplied with water by a 25km long canal (1977) from Lake Pukaki to Lake Tekapo.

Irishman Creek

16km south of Tekapo on Highway 8 is the Irishman Creek farm, where William Hamilton, inventor of the jet boat, once lived. He is commemorated by a small museum.

Burke Pass

Above Lake Tekapo to the southeast is Burke Pass (671m), which carries the road (Highway 8) from the Mackenzie Country to Fairlie. It is named after Michael John Burke, who surveyed the area in 1855. His interest in the area was aroused during the trial of the sheep stealer James Mackenzie (Mackenzie Country), when he heard of the great plains in this highland region where the stolen sheep had been hidden.

Waitaki River

The broad Waitaki River is fed by the snowfields and glaciers of the Southern Alps, and its principal tributaries come from the alpine lakes Tekapo, Pukaki and Ohau. With these and numerous other tributaries it has a catchment area of almost 12,000 It forms the boundary between the Canterbury and Otago regions.
Two gigantic hydroelectric schemes have transformed both the course of the river and the landscape. On the upper course of the river, near Twizel, there is the Upper Waitaki Power Development Scheme, and on its middle course are the Benmore, Aviemore and Waitaki hydroelectric stations, each supplied by an artificial lake created by damming the river. Much of the river's course is now a chain of lakes. The water stored in the lakes is also used for agricultural and horticultural irrigation in the arid plains on the lower course of the river.
There are fish ladders at the dams for the benefit of trout and salmon anglers - and of the fish.

Maori Rock Paintings, Takiroa

At Takiroa, near Duntroon (on the south bank of the river), are very fine rock paintings by nomadic Maori tribes. They are easily accessible from Highway 83.


Lake Mariam at Twizel.
A few kilometers south of Lake Pukaki, on the Twizel River in the Mackenzie highlands, is Twizel (pop. 1,800), originally a camp for construction workers on the Upper Waitaki Power Development Scheme. Under this project the water level of lakes Tekapo, Pukaki and Ohau was raised by the construction of dams, the lakes were linked by canals and lower down, in the middle Waitaki Valley, other dams were built, creating artificial lakes like Lake Benmore. In the course of these developments, which were highly controversial, a holiday and leisure complex, the Mackenzie Hydro Lakes, was established round Twizel. This offers excellent facilities for fishing, boating and cruising on the lakes. In recent years a number of skiing centers have also been developed.

Mackenzie Country

The Mackenzie Country is a highland region of some 5000 below the mountains of the Southern Alps, within which are the three large glacier lakes Tekapo, Pukaki and Ohau. It can be reached from the east either by the Burke Pass (Highway 8) or by the little-known Mackenzie Pass (unmade track), to the south of the Burke Pass. This bare plateau covered with tussock grass, cold and snowbound in winter, was settled mainly by Scottish sheep farmers with experience of hill farming.
In recent decades the Mackenzie Country has been much changed by the huge hydroelectric projects of the Upper Waikati Power Development Scheme. The large glacier lakes have been dammed, land on their shores has been drowned by rises in water level and new artificial lakes such as Lake Benmore have been created.

Lindis Pass

Scenic view of the hills en route to Lindis Pass.
Lindis Pass (970m) links the alpine landscapes of the Mackenzie Country with the bare arid hills of central Otago. The old Maori track through the hills was rediscovered by John T Thomson while surveying this region in 1857 and was soon traveled by large numbers of gold prospectors. In the valley of the Lindis River a number of old farmsteads dating from the time of the early settlers still survive; particularly notable is Morven Hills farm.


On Highway 8, an hour drive northwest of Timaru, is the little township of Fairlie (Canterbury region; pop. 800), the commercial and administrative center of the Mackenzie Country. Until 1968 it was the terminus of a railroad line from Timaru.

Transport Museum of the Mackenzie Carnival Society

The Transport Museum of the Mackenzie Carnival Society displays old carnival floats, coaches and agricultural equipment; the old railroad station is incorporated in the museum. Nearby is an old smithy, grandly named the Mabel Binney Cottage Museum.

Two Thumb Ranges

Near Fairlie are the Two Thumb Ranges. Mount Dobson (25km in the Tekapo direction) and Fox Peak (40km north of Fairlie by way of Clayton) are popular winter-sports areas.


The town of Ashburton (pop. 16,000) lies on the Ashburton River in the Canterbury Plains, 90km southwest of Christchurch. The town and the river are named after Lord Ashburton, a prominent member of the New Zealand Land Company founded by Edward Gibbon Wakefield in London. The wide Canterbury Plains, with the Southern Alps in the distance, are now the granary of New Zealand, reminiscent of the American Midwest, though only 150 years ago, when Bishop Selwyn was traveling about his immense diocese, the plains were arid, treeless and covered with brown tussock grass.


There are some interesting natural attractions in the Ashburton surrounding areas.

Mount Somers

Mount Somers waterfalls.
43km northwest of Ashburton is Mount Somers, a little town with numerous limestone quarries that supplied stone for building Melbourne in the 19th C.


The two little townships of Erewhon (90km northwest) and Mesopotamia (100km northwest) were formerly commercial centers for the huge sheep farms in the area.

Rakaia Gorge

50km north of Ashburton is Rakaia Gorge, a popular destination for excursions, particularly in summer.

Mount Hutt Ski Area

In winter the skiing area on Mount Hutt (50km northwest) attracts many winter-sports enthusiasts.
Address: Main Street, Box 14, New Zealand

Lake Coleridge

Water flowing through the Lake Coleridge hydro power station.
100km west of Christchurch is Lake Coleridge, a typical elongated glacier-formed lake, surrounded by mountains and open tussock grassland and which is now a Mecca for anglers. It is named after a prominent member of the Canterbury Association. The first state-owned hydroelectric station came into operation here in 1911. The water that formerly flowed into the Harper River was diverted through underground pipelines into the Rakaia River. Near here are the winter-sports areas of Porter Heights and Mount Olympus.


The port of Timaru (pop. 28,000), the second-largest town in Canterbury region, lies on the east coast, on the southern edge of the great Canterbury Plain, halfway between Christchurch and Dunedin. Along the coast extend the Tertiary basalts known as Timaru bluestone, forming a sheltered natural harbor. The Maori place name Te Maru means 'sheltered place'. Timaru is an important port for exports (particularly frozen meat) and the commercial and administrative center of an extensive hinterland.

Caroline Bay

The place to go to in Timaru is Caroline Bay, with its parks and entertainment and leisure facilities. It is particularly lively and busy in summer. At Christmas it is the venue of the Timaru Christmas Carnival, a great annual occasion.

South Canterbury Museum

In a modern octagonal building is the South Canterbury Museum. It offers a survey of the history and natural history of the Timaru area, as well as material on the early flights by the aviation pioneer Richard Pearse in 1903. Opposite the museum is an obelisk commemorating the victims of two shipwrecks in 1882.
Address: Perth Street, Box 522, Timaru, Canterbury 8615, New Zealand

Maori Park

At the north end of Caroline Bay is Maori Park, in which is an eye-catching wooden lighthouse (1877).

St Mary's Church

Beside the South Canterbury Museum is St Mary's Church (1886; Anglican), built in the local bluestone in Early English style.

Basilica of the Sacred Heart

The Basilica of the Sacred Heart (1911 by FW Petre; RC) boasts twin towers and a copper dome.

Aigantighe Art Gallery

The Aigantighe Art Gallery, housed in an elegant building of 1908 in Wai-iti Road, has a fine collection that includes works by New Zealand artists. Attached to the gallery is a sculpture garden.
Address: 49 Wai-iti Road, New Zealand


To the north of the town is the Washdike industrial zone. The name refers to an old installation that once existed in this area, in which sheep were washed before shearing. Visitors can see round textile factories and milling works.

City Walk

The popular City Walkway runs through Centennial Park and continues along the coast.


There are some interesting natural and historical attractions in the Timaru surrounding area.

Maori Rock Paintings

In a wide area round Timaru, in caves and rock overhangs, are rock paintings by Maoris or their predecessors from a very early period. The finest are at Dog Rock, 1km east of Cave, and Craigmore, 30km southwest. Information is available from the visitor center in George Street, Timaru.


35km west of Timaru on Highway 8 is the hamlet of Cave (pop. 130), which grew up round an outpost of the huge Levels sheep station that once belonged to the Rhodes brothers. It was from this farm that the notorious Scottish sheep stealer James McKenzie allegedly stole sheep and then drove them into the unexplored highland country.

St David's Memorial Church

On a hill 2km from Cave is St David's Memorial Church (Presbyterian), which commemorates the pioneers of the Mackenzie highlands. This beautiful little neo-Romanesque church with a battlemented tower is built of natural ice-smoothed stone.

Pleasant Point Museum and Railway

Restored steam trains leave from the 1875 Point Pleasant train station and travel to Keanes Crossing. At Keanes Crossing are vintage Railway Rolling Stock, including a 1922 and an 1878 steam locomotive.

Banks Peninsula

The Banks Peninsula reaches out into the south Pacific southeast of Canterbury, with Highway 75 as its main artery. The peninsula, with its two deep natural harbors, Lyttleton on the northwest coast and Akaroa on the southeast, consists of two huge extinct volcanic craters. It has a mild climate in which even frost-sensitive kumara (sweet potatoes) grow.


Fog in the mountains, Akaroa.
80km southeast of Christchurch is Akaroa (Maori for long harbor; pop. c 800). There are a number of old buildings. The Roman Catholic parish church of St Patrick was built in 1864; it was the third church of the mission station established by Bishop Pompallier in 1840.
The neo-Gothic St Peter's Church (Anglican) in Rue Balguerie was built in 1863. Another fine example of carpentry is the former custom house (1852). On the hill called L'Aube, with a modern lighthouse (1980), is the French settlers' cemetery.
5km south of Akaroa is a little Maori church (1878).

Maison Langlois-Eteveneaux

The Maison Langlois-Eteveneaux was built in 1845 by A Langlois and was occupied from 1858 to 1906 by the Eteveneaux family; it is furnished in period style. Associated with it is a small museum with mementos of the brief French episode.


13km south of Christchurch, on a sheltered natural harbor formed by the crater of an extinct volcano, is the port of Lyttleton (pop. 3000). It is named after Lord Lyttleton, a leading member of the Canterbury Association (Christchurch, History), which during the 19th C. was the gateway of New Zealand for many thousands of immigrants. The pilgrims of Christchurch landed in 1850 on the northwestern shore of Lyttleton Harbour, which is still the city's port. The arrival of the pilgrims is commemorated annually on December 16th by the Bridle Path Walk (8km) from the harbor over the steep hills to Christchurch. A railroad tunnel was driven through the hills in 1867, followed in 1964 by a road tunnel; both provide good connections between Lyttleton and Christchurch.
The best features in the town can be seen by following the Lyttleton Historic Walk. Information can be obtained in the excellent Lyttleton Historical Museum on Gladstone Quay, which in addition to its material on local history has sections on oceanography and Antarctic exploration.
Notable buildings are Holy Trinity Church (1860; Anglican), St Joseph's Church (1865; RC) and the Presbyterian Church (1864) in Winchester Street.
Very few of Lyttelton's stone-built heritage buildings remained intact following the September 2010 earthquake and subsequent aftershocks. By June 2011, six buildings on London Street in Lyttelton had been demolished, along with another four on Norwich Quay.

Bridle Path

There are a number of trails on which the hilly peninsula can be explored, including the Mount Herbert Walk and the Summit Road Scenic Walk. The Banks Peninsula Track is a 4 day walk.
The best known of the trails is the Bridle Path, which runs between Lyttleton and Christchurch, the route followed by the first Christchurch settlers.

Ripapa Island

On the tiny Ripapa Island in Lyttleton Harbour there was once a Maori pa. In 1885, when there was concern about a possible Russian invasion, a fort was built on the island. For a time the island served as a quarantine station and a prison. Among the prisoners detained here was the 'Sea Devil' Count Felix von Luckner after his daring flight from Motuihe Island.

Okains Bay - Maori and Colonial Museum

In Okains Bay is the Maori and Colonial Museum, which displays objects from the surrounding area and the Chatham Islands. Items of particular interest are the carved Maori meeting house and the old pioneers' houses.
Address: Main Road, New Zealand

Summit Road

From Akaroa you can drive back to Christchurch on the winding Summit Road, which runs round the edge of the old volcanic crater, with fine views. At Hilltop it meets Highway 75.
The beautiful Summit Road runs along the Port Hills, the rim of the crater, with various side paths branching off to viewpoints. From Christchurch the best approach to the Summit Road is from Sumner, in the east, on the Evans Pass Road to Gebbies Pass. The road, with many bends, has a total length of some 70km. The return route to Christchurch is over Dyer's Pass or via Lyttleton and the road tunnel.

Lake Pukaki

Calm waters of Lake Pukaki.
13km north of Twizel is Lake Pukaki, the second largest glacier lake in Canterbury region (81 The mighty Tasman River, fed by meltwater from great glaciers, flows into the north end of the lake, which lies 500m above sea level. The lake's high content of rock flour (finely ground particles of rock held in the glacial meltwater) gives its water a milky turquoise color.

Highway 80 (Mount Cook National Park Route)

The asphalted road to Mount Cook National Park (Highway 80) branches off Highway 8 southwest of Lake Pukaki and runs along the western shore of the lake. In good weather there is a magnificent view of the majestic mountain peaks to the west.


The little agricultural market town of Geraldine lies 35km north of Timaru, between the plain and the highlands. Early settlers planted European species of trees here.

Peel Forest Park

23km north of Geraldine is Peel Forest Park, 600ha of largely unspoiled woodland with romantic waterfalls and attractive picnic areas.
Nearby are the old buildings of Mount Peel Station, a sheep farm established in the 1860s.

Orari Gorge Farm

16km northwest of Geraldine is Orari Gorge Farm, established in the mid-19th C. The farm buildings, including a cottage of 1859, are protected as national monuments (restored by the Historic Places Trust). The farm is still occupied and there is only restricted public access.

Vintage Car and Machinery Museum

The Vintage Car and Machinery Museum in Geraldine displays vintage and veteran cars, tractors, a Spartan Biplan from 1929, as well as other engine and motor equipment.
Address: 178 Talbot Street, New Zealand

St Anne's Church

In Pleasant Valley, 17km west of Geraldine, is St Anne's Church (1862; Anglican), the oldest church in South Canterbury.

Waihi Gorge (Te Moana Gorge)

Two local beauty spots are the Waihi Gorge (13km northwest) and the Te Moana Gorge (19km west).


50km south of Timaru is Waimate, the commercial center of a large agricultural area. On land that in the 19th C was covered with totara forests grain is now grown, as well as flower bulbs and berry fruits.

Studholme Farm (The Cuddy)

The first farmhouse, the Cuddy, was built by the Studholme brothers in 1854 of wood from a single totara tree. A sheep-shearing shed and a wool shed were built at the same time. The buildings, still in private ownership, are protected as national monuments.

St Augustine's Church

St Augustine's Church (Anglican) was built in 1872 of rough-sawn wood, with a striking little tower over the crossing. The interior bears witness to the prominent position of the Studholme family in the local community.

Historical Museum

This museum of local history is housed in the old courthouse (1879).
Address: 28 Shearman Street, New Zealand

Seddon Square

In Seddon Square, the well looked-after village square, there are monuments to Michael Studholme, the Maori chief Huruhuru and Dr Margaret Cruickshank, New Zealand's first woman doctor, who cared for the town's people until 1916.

Mount John

From the summit of Mount John (446m), in the nearby Hunter's Hills, you can get some idea of the vastness of the Canterbury Plains.


Mountains in the Marlborough Region.
Located in the north of the South Island the Nelson-Marlborough region includes the townships of Nelson, Picton, Blenheim, and Kaikoura. The area is known for its coastal parks, and inland lakes.

Marlborough Sounds Maritime Park

Cloudy day over Marlborough Sounds.
The Marlborough Sounds, at the northeast corner of the South Island, are one of the most popular holiday areas in New Zealand - a beautiful landscape of drowned river valleys and intricate waterways, islands, beaches and wooded hills. This much indented coast with its many islets and inlets offers endless scope for boating enthusiasts, anglers and campers. On land, too, this is a quiet and peaceful area, for the roads running along the drowned valleys are narrow, winding, steep and usually not asphalted. Nowhere else in New Zealand is there as much sunshine: over 2000 hours per year.

Endeavor Track

Endeavor Track follows the footsteps of Captain Cook from Camp Bay over the Kenepuru Saddle to Ship Cove. The walk takes about 10 hours; on the way there are a modest inn and a number of possible campsites.

Nydia Track

The attractive Nydia Track starts from Mahau Sound, goes over the Kaiuma Saddle into Nydia Bay and continues to Tennyson Inlet. It too is a 10-hour walk; camping facilities in Nydia Bay.


At the northeast corner of the South Island, 40km northwest of Blenheim, is the little township of Havelock (pop. 500), in a beautiful setting in the Marlborough Sounds. The settlement, named after General Sir Henry Havelock, who distinguished himself in the Indian Mutiny, was established on the site of an old Maori village to supply the needs of gold miners working at Wakamarina, 10km west. The inhabitants now live mainly by fish farming (mostly shellfish) in the inlets of the Marlborough Sounds.
Havelock's main claim to fame is that the atomic physicist Ernest Rutherford and the missile scientist William Pickering went to school here. The old schoolhouse is now a youth hostel. In the former Methodist church is a memorial room commemorating Rutherford and Pickering.

Pelorus Bridge

At Pelorus Bridge, 20km further west, on the river, is a scenic reserve with a number of attractive trails. From Pelorus Bridge a road runs into the romantic Maungatapu Valley, through which the old road from Blenheim to Nelson pursues a winding course.

Nelson Lakes National Park

The national park covers a wide expanse of wild mountain country traversed by the highly visible Alpine Fault. This fault accounts for the difference in height between the hills to the northeast, which rise to over 2000 m, and those to the northwest, which are around 1000m high. The national park is bounded on the east by the high St Arnaud Range. The highest peaks are snow-capped until well into summer. At a number of points in the park, particularly on the shores of lakes, there are expanses of dense beech and rain forest.
Two long narrow lakes, Lake Rotoiti (alt. 610m) and Lake Rotoroa, which lies around 100m lower, occupy valleys gouged out by glaciers and dammed by terminal moraine. A minor road leads to Lake Rotoiti, which attracts water-sports enthusiasts and others seeking a relaxing holiday. Lake Rotoroa is difficult to get to and therefore quieter; it attracts mainly anglers.
There are a number of trails of varying length in the national park. There are longer walks in the Travers, Sabine and D'Urville valleys.
Descriptions of the various routes can be obtained in the visitor center in St Arnaud and the ranger station on Lake Rotoroa.
There are skiing areas on Mount Robert (southwest of Lake Rotoiti) and at Rainbow (25km south of St Arnaud).
Nelson Lakes National Park lies 120km south of Nelson and 100km southwest of Blenheim. The gateway to the park is the township of St Arnaud on Highway 63.
Address: View Road, Private Bag, New Zealand


Sunset off Nelson.
The port town of Nelson lies on the southeast side of Tasman Bay, in an area famed for its mild climate. In its fertile hinterland various fruits (particularly apples and pears) for export are grown, as well as grapes, hops and tobacco. In the surrounding hills there is lucrative forestry, the timber from which is processed in the Nelson area and shipped from the port. The population of the area is increasing markedly, growing within a decade by over 5 per cent.
The town's harbor, Nelson Haven, is sheltered by a long breakwater. The town itself has many old wooden houses, both mansions and cottages. Modern amenities include seafront promenades and many parks and gardens.
In recent years Nelson's beautiful situation has attracted many artists and craftsmen. South of the town on the road to Richmond is the Craft Habitat, an arts and crafts center.

Nelson Provincial Museum

In Isel Park, in the southwestern district of Stoke, is Nelson Provincial Museum, which is devoted to the history of the town and the region. In addition to an excellent collection of Maori objects it has material on the Wairau affray, the only serious clash between Maoris and whites on the South Island.
Address: Hilliard Street, Stoke, New Zealand

Suter Art Gallery

The Suter Art Gallery, was founded by Bishop Suter in 1889. It has an excellent collection of paintings, with works by Woollaston, Gully, Lindauer, Van der Velden, Hodgkins and Richmond.
Address: 208 Bridge Street, New Zealand


Sunset at Tahuna Beach, Nelson Bay.
At the end of Rocks Road is Tahunanui Beach, the most popular of the town's beaches, with a campsite and leisure facilities. Also popular is the beach on Rabbit Island (25km).

Christ Church Cathedral

Christ Church Cathedral stands on the site of a Maori pa destroyed by Te Rauparaha. In 1842 the New Zealand Land Company established a settlement here. After the Wairau affray the settlers, fearful of attack, fortified the settlement, calling it Fort Arthur in honor of their leader Arthur Wakefield, who was killed in the affray. The first church on this site was built in 1850. Work on the cathedral was begun in 1925, and after various changes to the plan, partly to make the building earthquake-proof, it was finally completed in 1967.

Trafalgar Street

The town's busy main artery is Trafalgar Street, lined with many shops. A notable building in the street is Melrose House, an Italian-style mansion (c 1875) that is now used by the municipality for ceremonial occasions. At the south end of the street is another handsome mansion, Fairfield House (1883).

Botanical Hill

Botanical Hill (150m), covered with gardens, is regarded as the geographical center of New Zealand. From the top of the hill there is a fine view of the town.

Bishop's School

The Bishop's School was built in 1844 on the initiative of Bishop Selwyn. It is furnished in period style and is open to the public as a museum.
Address: 43 Nile Street, New Zealand

Nelson Haven

Nelson's harbor is a scene of busy activity. From here every conceivable type of New Zealand produce is shipped, particularly fruit, timber and timber products. There are cruises around the harbor.

Broadgreen House

Broadgreen House is a 19th C mansion with beautifully decorated windows, gable and porch.
Address: 276 Nayland Road, Stoke, New Zealand

Flea Market

Every Saturday morning there is a flea market at the Montgomery parking lot.


There are several natural attractions in the Nelson surrounding areas.

Founders Park

2km north of Nelson town center is Founders Park, an open-air museum in which various buildings of the Victorian period (some of them reconstructions) are displayed. Of particular note are a windmill and an exhibition on the history of Nelson Haven.

Princess Drive

From Princess Drive, the road to the Davis Lookout, there are a series of fine views.

Cable Bay

The lovely landscape is ample reward for the difficult drive from Nelson northwards to Cable Bay, with its fine beach, and on via Rai Valley to the idyllic Croisilles Harbour. The more adventurous may drive on to Admiralty Bay and the strongpoint at French Pass.

Mount Richmond Forest Park

The densely wooded and beautiful Mount Richmond Forest Park extends to the south and east of Nelson, over the hills of the Richmond Range and down into the valley of the Wairau River. A popular trail is the Wakamarina-Onamalutu Track, which follows in the footsteps of the gold prospectors. The walk, which begins 20km south of Canvastown, takes 2 days.

Northwest Nelson Forest Park

The Northwest Nelson Forest Park covers 3760 of densely wooded mountain country extending from Tasman Bay (Motueka Valley) over the Tasman Mountains to the west coast (Karamea Bay). A number of trails run through this primeval landscape with its expanses of lush vegetation. The best known are the Heaphy Track (Abel Tasman National Park) and the Wangapeka Track (4-day walk).

Kahurangi National Park

To the west of Motueka extends Kahurangi National Park (4000; established 1995). The central feature of this park in the wild Tasman Mountains (up to 1700m) is the largest and deepest cave system in the southern hemisphere, the sandstone, marble and karstic caves of Kahurangi. There are almost 600km of trails in the National Park; the most popular are the Heaphy Track (see above) and the Wangapeka Track.
Address: King Edward Street and High Street, New Zealand

Heaphy Track

Bainham, 30km south of Collingwood, is the starting point of the famous Heaphy Track, named after the explorer and surveyor Charles Heaphy. The walk (78 km; 4-5 days) runs through the dense primeval forests of the Northwest Nelson Forest Park and along the west coast, with magnificent views, particularly on the west coast, and ends at Karamea. The track follows an old Maori route to the deposits of greenstone on the coast, later used by gold prospectors. The walk is facilitated by slender suspension bridges spanning gorges overgrown with ferns and huts providing overnight accommodation.
Walkers can return on the Heaphy air taxi. Information and vouchers for accommodation in huts are available from the Department of Conservation offices in Takaka and Nelson. All-weather clothing and walking boots are essential. The track is not difficult, though it climbs to 900m.

Riwaka Cave

A favorite excursion from Motueka is to the Riwaka Cave (16km west). The Riwaka River flows out of the cave.


Coastline near Kaikoura.
The little town of Kaikoura lies on the northeast coast of the South Island at the foot of the Seaward Kaikoura Range (2600m), just north of the rocky Kaikoura Peninsula, which is famed for its seal colony.
The Maori name Kaikoura (eating crayfish) is a reference to the rich crayfish fishing grounds that were much prized by the Maoris. In the 19th C. whaling also made a major contribution to the economy of the town. There are still a few relics of the old whaling stations in the form of whalebones (e.g. in the Garden of Memories).
On the rocks at the end of Kaikoura Island is a colony of several hundred seals with some yellow-eyed penguins. They do not appear to have any fear of humans. A trip on a boat will yield sightings, from an appropriate distance, of not just seals but also of black and Hector's dolphins, sperm whales, and albatrosses with wingspans of over 3m.

Fyffe House

Fyffe House was built around 1860 for a whaler named George Fyffe. It is now a historic monument.
Address: 62 Avoca Street, New Zealand

Maori Meeting House

Near the hospital is the Takahara Marae (assembly place), which has been given a new lease of life by the construction of a modern Maori meeting house. From the little Maori cemetery there is a good view of the mountains across the bay. The old Maori pa was taken in 1828 by Te Rauparaha, the warlike chief from the North Island. From here it is a short distance to the Kaikoura Lookout.

Maori Leap Cave

3km south of Kaikoura is the Maori Leap Cave, a karstic sea cave hollowed out by the surf with fine stalactite formations and in which large numbers of bird and seal skeletons were found.
Guided tours by arrangement through the local visitor center.

Dolphin Encounter

Dolphin Encounters offer dolphin and whale watching excursions as well as opportunities for visitors to swim with dolphins.
Address: 96 Esplanade, New Zealand

Buller River

The Buller River - named after a director of the New Zealand Land Company - is the principal river on the west coast of the South Island. Issuing from Lake Rotoiti, in Nelson Lakes National Park, it flows west through high mountain country, enclosed in steep gorges and flanked by dense forest. After a course of 169km it flows into the Tasman Sea at Westport. In 1929 and 1968 the area was hit by violent earthquakes that caused massive landslides.
Highway 6 follows the winding course of the river to Howard Junction, with picnic areas at attractive spots. The finest scenery is in Upper Buller Gorge and from Lower Buller Gorge to Sinclair Castle.


130km southwest of Nelson, in a bend on the upper course of the Buller River, is the remote little township of Murchison (pop. 700). Above it rears Mount Murchison (1469m), named after the Scottish geologist Sir Roderick Murchison.
Murchison was founded during the gold rush of the 1860s and thereafter developed into the commercial center for the remote farms in the interior of the country. In 1929 the area was devastated by a severe earthquake with its epicenter near Murchison and the whole landscape was altered by landslides. Bridges, roads and buildings were destroyed, but due to the sparse population only 17 people lost their lives.


The town of Blenheim lies on Highway 1 near the north end of the South Island, on the Wairau plain near the mouth of the Wairau River. The Blenheim area is one of the sunniest in New Zealand, with no fewer than 2600 hours of sunshine in the year.
The old government buildings in High Street are now occupied by the police. At the corner of High Street and Seymour Street is the cannon in return for which Captain Blenkinsopp claimed to have acquired Te Rauparaha's land in the Wairau area in 1831.

Brayshaw Museum Park

In the Brayshaw Museum Park are old agricultural implements and a reconstruction of an immigrants' settlement.


Wairau Affray Memorial

At Tuamarina, between Blenheim and Picton on Highway 1, is a monument commemorating the Wairau affray. Those who fell in the battle are buried on the nearby hill.

Riverlands Cob Cottage

4km south of Blenheim on Highway 1 is the Riverlands Cob Cottage (1859), built of cob (a mixture of clay and chopped straw), a reminder of the early European settlement.

Lake Grassmere

35km south on Highway 1 is Lake Grassmere, on which are the only saltpans in New Zealand. Seawater is pumped into the main lake, which has an area of almost 700ha and is then left to evaporate in small ponds. An average of 50,000 tonnes of sea salt is produced here every year. Gleaming white pyramids of salt are visible everywhere.


Boats in Picton Harbor, Marlborough Sounds.
Picton, where the ferries sailing between the South and the North Island (Wellington) put in, lies at the northeastern tip of the South Island, at the head of one branch of picturesque Queen Charlotte Sound, 30km north of Blenheim.
This little port, where Katherine Mansfield often stayed, is hemmed in by steep hills. In spite of the busy ferry traffic it has retained its original character. As the many yachts in its marina indicate, it is a popular holiday resort.

Smith Memorial Museum

The Smith Memorial Museum on London Quay commemorates the whaling tradition in this area since the mid-19th C Whaling ceased only in the 1960s.

Victoria Domain Lookout

On the way to Waikawa Bay (northeast of the town) is the Victoria Domain Lookout, from which there are fine views of the town and Queen Charlotte Sound.

Queen Charlotte Sound

North of Picton is Queen Charlotte Sound, a beautiful arm of the sea with many picturesque inlets. The best way to see the marvelous coastal scenery is by boat - the finest places are Mistletoe Bay, the Bay of Many Coves, Endeavor Inlet, Resolution Bay and Ship Cove. The Queen Charlotte Walkway, a beautiful trail offering no great difficulties, runs from Anakiwa to Ship Cove. There is also a road, Queen Charlotte Drive, through this picturebook landscape. From Picton there are organized boat excursions and fishing trips that take visitors, among other places, to Ship Cove, where Captain Cook called in several times, Queen Charlotte Sound and further out into the Marlborough Sounds. For divers there is a trip to the wreck of the Soviet cruise ship Mikhail Lermontov, which sank in Port Gore in 1986.

Robin Hood Bay

It is well worth an excursion from Picton to the picturesque Robin Hood Bay in the east; the steep sections of road require a confident driver.

Karaka Point

8km from Picton, to the north of Waikawa Bay, is the Karaka Point Reserve, in which are the remains of a Maori pa.

Cook Strait

Tall ship Spirit of New Zealand in the Cook Strait.
At its narrowest point Cook Strait, the storm-swept channel between the North and South Islands of New Zealand, is only 23km wide. The ferry crossing takes nearly 31/2 hours. The first hour (from Picton) is spent sailing through the beautiful Marlborough Sounds; then follows an hour and a half in the open sea, and finally three-quarters of an hour in Wellington's huge natural harbor.
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New Zealand National Parks & Walking Trails
New Zealand National Parks & Walking Trails
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New Zealand - South Island Journey Times
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New Zealand - North Island Journey Times