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  • Writer's pictureRose Parsons

Top 10 things to do in the South Island of New Zealand

When visiting the South Island allow plenty of time to get around it, the distances are deceptive as the roads are winding and you will want to stop and take plenty of pictures along the way. We have just completed a trip around the South Island and these are the things we enjoyed most. Please feel free to comment if you know of other great things to do.

1. Be entertained by the baby seals in their natural seal nursery at Ohau Point. This eighth wonder of the world` is just north of Kaikoura. It is a lovely and easy walk from the car park on State Highway 1 to the Ohau waterfall where you will see baby seals playing in the pools. Remember though that this is a winter activity.

2. Have a night at Hanmer Springs east of Christchurch. Soaking in the various hot pools at night was a great start to our holiday. A chance to unwind and count the stars!

3. Stop off at the Moeraki Boulders. Because the enormous spherical boulders are other worldly` but also because it is a wonderful golden beach. The Cafe gives wonderful views of the sea while you sip on your skinny latte.

4. Visit the Dunedin Botanical Gardens which covers an area over 28 hectares in Dunedin. Established in 1863 this garden is the oldest in New Zealand. It is a lovely place for a stroll exploring a range of plants from around the world. Also our daughter works there so we are biased but check it out for yourself.

5. Walk to Lake Gunn. This is on the Cascade track on the highway to Milford Sound. Milford Sound is a popular tourist destination but getting there is even better. This walk through stunning rainforest is both beautiful and educational. Native plants and trees are sign posted to tell of the medicinal and practical uses by Maori and early European. Watch out for the rare yellowhead which has a song like a canary.

6. Have lunch at the Provisions cafe in the historic gold rush town of Arrowtown. You can also buy beautiful pieces of natural greenstone, (pounamu) at a nearby jewellery store very reasonable price.. A lovely gift to take home.

7. Stay a night at Makaroa, near Queenstown. Get away from the rush and hurry to book at night at the Homestead B&B. Off the tourist track you will be treated to bush at your back door, lovely hosts who love their environment and if you are in luck you will hear morkpork at night. We can`t wait to go back and check out the nearby walking tracks.

8. Have a picnic at Shipwreck creek beach near Haast in Westland. We were welcomed by a flock of dancing fantails who thought it was their job to catch the sandflys. Hope you are as lucky, we would not have missed it for the world.

9. Take a wander around Lake Matheson, the Mirror Lake. On a fine day you will see Mt Cook, New Zealand`s largest mountain majestically reflected on its surface. If you are feeling adventurous treat yourself to a helicopter flight onto the Fox Glacier.

10. Visit Marlborough and enjoy wine tasting in the vines either by bike or mini bus.

Happy travels!

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