The South Island located in New Zealand, is the larger of the two major islands , the other one being North Island. The South Island neighbors are : north Cook Strait, west the Tasman Sea, south and east the Pacific Ocean. South Island covers 151,215 square kilometres (58,384 sq mi) making it the world’s 12th-largest island . The island is influenced by a temperate climate .
Only 24% of New Zealand’s 4.4 million inhabitants live in the South Island. In the early stages of European settlement of the country, the South Island had the majority of the European population and wealth due to the 1860s gold rushes.
There are eighteen peaks of more than 3000 metres (9800 ft) in the South Island , the highest peak being Aoraki/Mount Cook at 3754 metres (12,316 ft) . The east side of the island is home to the Canterbury Plains while the West Coast is famous for its rough coastlines, very high proportion of native bush, and Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers. The dramatic landscape of the South Island has made it a popular location for movie industry , Lord of the Rings trilogy was produced here .
Here are some of the natural features you can find on South Island:
- Glaciers - there are about 3,155 glaciers with an area of at least one hectare (2.5 acres). Some of the biggest are : Fox and Franz Josef glaciers on the West Coast, and the Tasman, Hooker, Mueller and Murchison glaciers in the east.
- Lakes – More then 3,800 lakes with a surface area larger than one hectare.
- Volcanoes – there are 4 extinct volcanoes in the South Island, all of which are located on the east coast.
The climate in the South Island is mostly temperate. The Mean temperature for the South Island is 8 °C (46 °F).January and February are the warmest months while July is the coldest. Historical maxima and minima are 42.4 °C (108.3 °F) in Rangiora, Canterbury and −21.6 °C (−6.9 °F) in Ophir, Otago. The southern and south-western parts of South Island have a cooler and cloudier climate, with around 1400–1600 hours of sunshine annually; the northern and north-eastern parts of the South Island are the sunniest areas and receive approximately 2400–2500 hours.
The South Island economy is strongly focused on tourism and primary industries like agriculture. The other main industry groups are manufacturing, mining, construction, energy supply, education, health and community services.
South Island Tourism
Tourism is most important industry in South Island . Popular tourist activities include sightseeing, adventure tourism, tramping (hiking) and camping. Numerous walking and hiking paths, some of which, like the Milford Track, have huge international recognition. An increase in direct international flights to Christchurch, Dunedin and Queenstown has boosted the number of overseas tourists.
Here are South Island main tourism destinations :
- Fiordland National Park,
- Abel Tasman National Park,
- Westland National Park,
- Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park,
- Queenstown, Kaikoura is known as Adventure Capital of the World and home to jet boating, bungee jumping, tramping (hiking), mountaineering and many more activities.
Canterbury is the South Island’s most populated region, with most of the population in the city of Christchurch. The second largest city on the South Island is Dunedin and an important tourist destination .