Kira Ora – Welcome to New Zealand part 2 – South Island

Welcome to New Zealand’s South Island….

Fiords National Park
 A world’s difference from the North…

When you travel from the North to South Island the landscapes change to lofty mountains, fiords and glaciers; mountains dominate the landscape with 60% of it covered by ranges, some reaching over 4,900 feet.  
While that is high, the Aoraki/Mt Cook region of the central Southern Alps are twice that height coming in at 12,316 feet!

Not only is Aoraki/Mt Cook range the highest in New Zealand the South Island also has 23 named peaks over 9,800 feet high, more than 3,000 glaciers or permanent snow patches, many lakes of glacial origin including 7 of the 10 largest lakes in the country, ice-carved fiords and the deepest and longest cave system in the Southern Hemisphere located in the Kahurangi National Park. 

Kahurangi National Park
Another significant difference is the climate.
The North Island is a haven for beach lovers and the South Island is a heavenly retreat for people who love the snow, winter activities, glaciers and fiords.

With this in mind lets move onto things to do and see on the South Island!

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Nelson

“Nelson is a lifestyle; that’s the best way to describe it. Situated at the top north-west of the South Island, it is the sunniest region in New Zealand.”
Looking at the photo above you would think it was from the North Island but Nelson’s location provides this island with sub-tropical long golden beaches, lush forests and rugged mountains.  
And have you ever heard of Blue Lake, the world’s clearest lake?  Well it is here, in Nelson, and according to the NIWA the visibility is up to 80 meters meaning the water is considered almost as “optically clear” as distilled water.  
While you may be tempted to jump in for a refreshing dip you are not legally allowed to; The Maori have declared the water as sacred.
If just admiring water isn’t your thing and you want to get out and experience it take a sea kayaking tour and get up close and personal with seal colonies and blue penguins.

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Malborough

While the North Island grows fantastic red grapes, the South Island is known for its sauvignon blanc and it can be found here in Malborough.  There are 40 wine cellar doors located in this region so take your pick and experience New Zealand’s wine at its finest! Also, take a cruise of Malborough Sound any time of year either on a guided cruise, kayaks or sail on a luxury yacht!

Queen Charlotte Track

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The West Coast aka The Coast

The whole stretch of land down the west coast is a wild, untamed land full of rain forests, rivers, glaciers and geological jewels.  The locals call it “The Coast” and the locals are called “the coasters”.  They are regarded as some of the friendliest people on Earth and are known to sit down with strangers and tell endless stories about their land.  While there a must do is to rent a car if you haven’t already because the Great Coast Road was voted one of the “top 10 coastal drives” by Lonely Planet.  


And before you leave the west coast you have to hike the Westcoast Treetop Walk through Paparoa National Park where you will find limestone cliffs, pancake rocks and gorgeous turquoise waters at Hokitika Gorge.

Pancake Rocks, Paparoa National Park
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Christchurch-Cantebury Region
Christchurch
This region is known for its diversity and accessibility.  It stretches from Alps to sea creating opportunities to ski, golf, bungy jump, whitewater raft, mountain bike, wind surf, whale watch and visit vineyards.  As I mentioned earlier, Mount Cook is located here so take a hike up to the highest peak (if thats your thing)!

Mount Cook

Or just wander through the bays and villages of Banks Peninsula.  Arthur’s Pass National Park is always a good choice – plan to spend ample amount of time in this region to not miss a thing! 

Banks Penisula

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Lake Wanaka = Skiing

Treble Cone

Lake Wanaka was rated one of the top 25 ski towns in the world by National Geographic and for good reason. The vibrant resort town offers two world class ski areas Treble Cone and Cardrona Apline Resort and spectacular scenery for those passionate about skiing.
Cardrona Ski Resort Promotional Video

 Also, skiing here is family friendly with gentle beginner slopes which is something I always look for!  The town only has 5,000 residents but offers numerous hostels, cafes, pubs and small, luxury eco-lodges.  The ski season is June through October and the region will typically see about 200 inches of snow!


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Fiordland
This is my Heaven…

There are not many places left in the world that are untouched by society.  But here for as far as the eye can see you will be surrounded by unspoiled nature where the only company you have are the animals that inhabit this wild place.


  Located in the far southwest corner, Fiordland was carved out by glaciers over 100,000 years ago and what nature created offers cascading waterfalls, primitive rain forests, extraordinary marine life, rare and endangered species, shimmering lakes and granite mountain peaks.  


The 1.2 millions hectares World Heritage Site is one of those rare places of pure wilderness that allows you to feel small in comparison when we usually feel “on top of the food chain”.  This haven will bring you back down to Earth.

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Contact United Military Travel to book your New Zealand adventure today!!
866-582-9579
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