South Island New Zealand
South Island - Where to go? What to see? I will presume you are landing in Christchurch, which is a good place to start, smack bang in the middle of the east coast of the South Island. From here you have 5 options,
- North via SH1 towards Kaikoura
- North about 50km and inland via Lewis Pass and the westcoast or Nelson
- West via Arthurs pass to the westcoast
- South about 100km and inland towards the McKenenzie country and Mt Cook
- South towards Dunedin and the Catlins.
This first port of call while heading north along SH1 is the seaside town of Kaikoura, this is most likely your first stop as there really isn't much to see along the way. Kai (food in Maori) Koura (crayfish, a type of lobster) as it name suggest is a area rich in sea life and in particular the crayfish ( Wikipedia - Crayfish ). It is here where you can take a boat trip to see whales and dolphins ( www.whalewatch.co.nz ), the coast is also home to an abundance of seals. Don't forget to take a walk up the hill to get gorgeous views looking towards the Southern Alps.
The only reason you will stop in this area is if you are a lover of wine, the area is littered with vineyards so if a wine tasting tour is your thing then this is the place to do it. The area also offers seasonal work so if you are strapped for cash you may like to spend a few weeks or so here and earn yourself a few dollars working on one of the many vineyards. Apart from that, there really isn't much else to see.
From here you can either head to the small port town of Picton (ferry to the North Island) or to Nelson. Picton itself is a pretty little town and offers a number few short walks around the area.
Nelson and Surroundings
I like this town, I spend a year here back in the late 90's. It is a great place to be based if you like hiking as it is in close proximity to 3 National Parks. Nelson itself is a small city, more a large town by international standards. It has all the features you will find in a small city with a pretty good nightlife and plenty of museums, galleries and shopping areas to keep you busy during the day. There are also some nice areas on the outskirts, I recommend a walk down the Maitai Valley and if the weather is warn going for a swim in the Maitai river.
There is no shortage of accommodation with backpackers, cheap hotels, camping grounds and airbnb hosts all competing for the tourist dollar. Be warned, this is one of those towns that New Zealanders flock to over the Christmas and New Year period, so you would most likely need to book your accommodation in advance.
Sunny Nelson also has the reputation of having the most sunshine hours in the country and is also somewhat of a arty town. so if sun and the arts is your cup of tea then you might want to hand around here for a while. Although I am currently living in Europe,when I go back to New Zealand I will be calling Nelson home.
Nelson Camping Grounds
Nelson City TOP 10 Holiday Park
The Maitai Valley Motor Camp
Nelson Backpacker Hostels
Abel Tasman National Park this is the most famous national park in the region, I am sure you have come across pictures of it's golden sands and it's inviting waters. Most people head here to do the Abel Tasman Coastal Track either by foot or by canoe/kayak. But even if you are not feeling energetic it's great place to go to for a day at the beach. This is a great walk and as such huts need to be booked in advanced, this can be done though the Department of Conservation website.
Nelson Lakes National Park
This national park is centered around two lakes, Lake Rotoiti and Lake Rotoroa, the main township in this area is Saint Arnaud which is situated besides Lake Rotoiti. This town offers the basic amenities but you might want to stock up on food in Nelson if you plan on spending a bit of time in this region. There are a number of hikes you can do in this area and a nice loop track around the lake itself which can be completed in a day but you could spread this out over two days and stay at Coldwater Hut. Perhaps the most popular track in Nelson Lakes is the Travers Sabine Circuit.
currently working on this page - 16th dec 2010 Travers Sabine Circuit