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    Route Around the South Island of New Zealand

    New Zealand PhotoNew Zealand is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Although the North Island has a more tropical climate than the South it has become a more popular destination over the last few years with the release of Lord of the Rings and several other films which were made there.Let me give you a taste of what you can expect to see on the South Island, my most favourite place in the world. Once you pick up your hire car at Christchurch Airport head north on Highway 1 to Hanmer Springs. Here you will find thermal pools and a beauty spa. The village itself is Alpine style and a perfect base for walking on many of the nearby tracks.Just north east, on the coast, is Kaikoura where you can go swimming with dolphins and eat freshly caught crayfish. Watch whales or the Southern fur seals that live in the eastern part of the town. The mountains, which are part of the Southern Alps, provide a magnificent backdrop and more walking opportunities.From Kaikoura take Highway 1 up to Picton. The town itself is quite small and is where the ferries depart for the North Island. However, it is also a perfect base from which to visit the Queen Charlotte Sounds. If you like walking you must do the Queen Charlotte Track. The whole track is 71 kms but you don't have to do the entire route. Resolution Bay to Endeavour Inlet will take you about 3 hours and is a great way to spend an afternoon. The views are stunning and the peacefulness and tranquility is incredible. There are also some wonderful vineyards in the Marlborough region, which produce some of the best wine in the world, and are well worth a visit.Next stop is Greymouth over on the west coast. It is quite a trek (approx 4 hours) so a stop off at Nelson Lake National Park on the way is a good way to break the journey. Greymouth is a seaside town with a history of coal and gold mining. Shanty Town is just 10km to the south the building inspired by the West Coast Gold Rush of the 1860's. Here you can pan for gold and ride on steam trains.Further south is Westland National Park, where you can visit the glaciers. There are two, Franz Josef and Fox. They are truly amazing sights and the time of year you visit will determine how you best view them. Tours onto the glaciers are available up until the first icefall. After that you can only walk out into the valley to view them or you can take a helicopter ride (weather permitting) and get a more panoramic view.Continuing south slightly inland on Highway 6 through Mt Aspiring National Park is Wanaka. No matter what time of year you visit Wanaka you can find plenty to do: skiing in winter, waterskiing or sailing in summer. I could write pages and pages on this fabulous country, but you can only truly appreciate its diversity and beauty by going there and seeing it for yourself. So, what are you waiting for ......?

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