Travel tip: If you were to visit the South Island

Monday, November 07, 2016

This is where I grew up. Many people say that the South Island is the real New Zealand- myself included. It's got that wild beauty New Zealand is famous for, with the crisp air and farming land that is quite different from the milder, more tropical northern weather.

  • Picton - this is probably the gateway to the south if you are taking the ferry from Wellington, with or without your car. 
  • Okiwi Bay - Top of the South Island is one of my favourite summer places in New Zealand, because it's the place of my fondest childhood memories. Scallop fishing in Okiwi Bay was definitely the highlight of that treasured family holiday, from dragging the scallops onboard, measuring for size, to shelling it back at the bach. Scalloping is banned here until further notice due to sustainability but this area is definitely on the top of my list.
  • Abel Tasman National Park and Golden Bay - Continuing on with the top of the South Island, these places are absoultely gorgeous with golden sandy beaches. Abel Tasman Coast Track is one of the nine Great Walks, high on my dream list.
  • Maruia Falls - At 10 metres, this is the tallest waterfall A has kayaked over during his kayaking trip around the South Island. Crazy!
  • Franz Josef glacier - One of the most accessible glaciers in the world, you can admire it from afar or take a hike on it, itself.
  • Mt Cook Hooker Valley track -  Mt Cook is the national mountain of New Zealand, and its Hooker Valley track is one of my family's favourite day trips outside of Christchurch. I love the nearby lakes Pukaki and Tekapo for their amazing blueness and stargazing.
  • Queenstown & Wanaka - Queenstown is the adrenaline stop of New Zealand, and a must stop for tourists and Kiwis alike. Queenstown has activities to keep you occupied all year round. It's the home of bungy jumping, and is famous for its snow - along with Wanaka. It's where I went skydiving. Fergburgers are famous here, so make sure you try some before you leave.
  • Milford Sound - When you are in Queenstown, you must also visit Milford Sound. It's been called the eigth Wonder of the World, it's that beautiful. It's a full day trip from Queenstown or Te Anau, but totally worth it. It's actually better to go when it's rainy than sunny.
  • Dunedin - Dunedin is a charming town known for being a university town and Victorian houses. Dunedin is also NZ's Scottish town, its name being Edinburgh in Gaelic and its university buildings are the most beautiful in the country, in my opinion. It is also known for having the steepest street in the world, Baldwin Street, as well as NZ's only castle.
  • Central Otago pinot noir - As well as Dunedin, Central Otago is known for its pinot noirs. I like it better than sauvignon blancs, the wine New Zealand is best known for.
  • Akaroa - Everything is 90 minutes away from Christchurch - Hanmer Springs, the Rotorua of the South, Mt Hutt, the main ski station in Canterbury, and Akaroa, the French town of New Zealand. Akaroa used to be under the French rule for a few months, back in the days when the British and the French were racing to claim the country as theirs. From Akaroa you can also see the world's smallest and rarest dolphins, Hector's dolphins.
  • Christchurch - My lovely hometown. This city, once declared the most English city outside of England, is where I grew up, through primary, intermediate, and high schools. Nowadays it's better known for the earthquakes it endured and is still rebuilding from. The city centre may still show bare patches here and there, but it is still the gateway to the South Island if you are flying in. Some of my favourite Christchurch places to go are the C1 cafe and Alice in Videoland, Winnie Bagoe's pizzeria in Ferrymead, Farmers' market at Riccarton House, Hagley Park, Margaret Mahy playground, Re:Start container malls, Canterbury Museum, and, of course, my parents' house.
  • TranzAlpine train ride - Christchurch to Grey Mouth scenic train journey is an alternative, and increasingly popular, option to the common car or plane transport that most people take. 
  • Pegasus Bay winery - Possibly my favourite winery in New Zealand, and definitely one of the top wineries in the country. It's be an awesome place to have your wedding reception.
  • Kaikoura - Kai means food and koura means crayfish, in Maori language. Put the two together, and Kaikoura is the place to have crayfish. I love crayfish! Normally there is a van on the side of the road that sells them for a bargain. 
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