Your Ultimate South Island Travel Guide
“New Zealand’s South Island is undoubtedly one of the world’s most beautiful places, where golden beaches and dense rainforests border the snow-capped Southern Alps and adventures are endless. But for those of us who can’t pick up and move to Christchurch, here’s a definitive guide to how to make the most of your time there,” Jessica Wynne Lockhart writes for American publication, Outside magazine.
“A love and respect for the outdoors is entrenched in New Zealand’s history, starting with the Māori who settled on the islands in the 14th century,” Wynne Lockhart writes. “Within the past few decades, Māori culture has seen more integration and recognition, from the establishment of Tongariro National Park on the North Island in 1993 as the world’s first World Heritage Site, designated for its cultural and spiritual importance to an indigenous people, to today, with the comeback of many of its traditions, including te reo Māori, the nation’s native tongue. This reverence for the country’s roots and landscapes runs deep and drives many of the government’s policies, from education initiatives like outdoor-focused schools to prioritising climate-change impact.
“New Zealand has almost every kind of outdoor activity, but its most unique features are its Great Walks, a series of ten three-to-five-day backcountry tracks that pass through some of the nation’s most awe-inspiring landscapes. The newest Great Walk, the Paparoa Track, opened on the South Island in December and winds through the pristine Paparoa National Park … Make bookings up to a year in advance for the most popular huts and hikes.
“Plan for drives to take up to twice as much time as you think. Google’s estimated drive times are meaningless. Driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road isn’t the only challenge; the roads are notoriously narrow and winding, and many are unpaved.
“Be flexible. The country comes with the wildness and unpredictability of a land ruled by nature. Two earthquakes in the past ten years have devastated major cities, and smaller shocks are a regular occurrence. The weather is highly variable, with landslides and road closures a common disturbance to travel plans.”
Original article by Jessica Wynne Lockhart, Outside, February 8, 2020.
Photo by Kaelyn Lynch.