South Island Attractions
Mount Cook. The Mount Cook region is out-standing among alpine resorts of the Southern Alps – the massive backbone of the South Island. Mount Cook (12,349 ft) is New Zealand's highest mountain, known to the Maoris as Aorangi (“The Cloud Piercer”). Seventeen peaks over 10,000 ft surround Mount Cook. The 18-mile-long Tasman Glacier, the largest in the temperate zones, is nearby. One can take walking trips up on to the glacier ice, or land on high snow fields by ski plane. The Mount Cook region offers first-class mountaineering.
Queenstown. Queenstown, set on the shore of Lake Wakatipu, is overshadowed by The Remarkables Range. It is the centre of the Southern Lakes district and close to the sites of the gold rushes of the last century, which have left many relics in the district.
Lake Te Anau. Sightseeing includes a trip to the Te Anau-au glow worm cave (quite different from Waitomo), a jetboat trip down the rapids of the Waiau River, and a cruise on Lake Manapouri, often described as New Zealand's most beautiful lake.
Milford Sound. Few places in the world can surpass Milford Sound for scenic grandeur. Carved from the granite mountains by a vanished glacier, its sheer sides tower thousands of feet above the 10-mile-long sound, so deep that ocean liners cannot anchor. Mitre Peak (5,560 ft) dominates the view from the hotel at the top of the sound. There is a road through the rugged, beautiful Eglinton and Hollyford Valleys, thence through the Homer Tunnel (a ¾-mile tunnel piercing a 6,000-ft range) and down the Cleddau Valley. One can take the three-day hike over the 33 miles of the Milford Track, known as “the finest walk in the world”.
South Westland Glaciers. The Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers are memorable sights. These glaciers flow down from the high snow fields to within a few hundred feet of sea level.
Stewart Island. This island lies to the south of the South Island, across Foveaux Strait. It is a sanctuary especially for birds. It is mountainous and heavily bushed, with a most beautiful coastline.