South Island Attractions
Top Tourist Attractions in 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.
In the far south of the South Island is Fiordland National Park, with mountainous terrain lining the deep fjords.
Many people enjoy views of Lake Te Anau from the little tourist town of Te Anau. The lake, surrounded by mountains and forests, is linked to Lake Manapouri in Fiordland National Park.
Lake Manapouri in the far south of New Zealand's South Island, lies within Fiordland National Park. Numerous islands and surrounding hills make this a particularly picturesque lake.
Stewart Island features 1600 km of coastline, a wooded mountainous interior with peaks up to 980 m, and a mild climate.
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.
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.
The South Island's sheep-shearing championship is held annually in Gore.
Map of South Island Attractions