For the the native Maori who first settled the mountainous stretch of the South Island, towering Mt. Cook was known as “Aoraki,”—the revered, indomitable, “cloud piercer.” It’s an apt name for the glacially-carved mountain that rises over 12,000 feet, seeing as its pointy, icy spire is higher than any other peak in the surrounding Southern Alps. And, […]
In any corner of the world, one of the best ways to get the community pulse is to stroll the local markets. Down here, away from the sightseeing buses and tours and heavily-marketed attractions, local vendors sell local crafts and speak the local truth. Looking for a good lead on where to eat or an underrated attraction? Or simply some cheeky conversation about local politics and news? Head to the local market stalls—where seemingly pedestrian browsing and shopping can strangely spawn your trip’s best photos or memories. Life here on the South Island is no different, so here are some of the best markets near Christchurch for gauging the local pulse.
Sandwiched between Queenstown, Cromwell and Clyde, New Zealand’s Otago wine region is officially classified as the southernmost wine region in the world. While known for its white wines, such as Riesling and Chardonnay, it’s the peppery Pinot noir that put the region on the map. Aside from being the highest — and driest — wine region in New Zealand, it’s also one of the most rapidly growing; in the mid 1990s, there were only a dozen wineries in all of Central Otago, and now that number is quickly closing in on over 100.
Akaroa is one of New Zealand’s most fascinating little corners. Not only does this town have a French influence that led to a spat with England, but the harbor is actually a submerged volcano that’s covered by the chilly Pacific. Surrounding this cold-water, protected volcano are gently rolling hills, where wineries, sheep farms, and bed and breakfasts are linked by winding dirt roads.
Rudyard Kipling—famed author, adventure traveler and early global explorer—once famously quipped that Milford Sound was the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” If staying a couple of nights in Queenstown, it would be a major injustice to the South Island’s beauty to not at least spend a single day experiencing Milford firsthand. Yes, visiting Milford Sound from Queenstown makes for a very long day, but seeing as the sun in the summer months can shine past 10pm, the long days make long day trips possible, enjoyable, and worthwhile.
Unlike a place like Wanaka or Queenstown, Christchurch isn’t a South Island city surrounded by soaring mountains. Sure, the Port Hills add a bit of topography on the southern outskirts of the city, but it’s the beaches in Christchurch that get the attention, since the mountains department is lacking. Fortunately, if the itch for alpine freedom strikes, Christchurch is only a couple of hours from the heart of the Southern Alps. At Arthur’s Pass National Park—only two hours by car from Christchurch—the snowcapped peaks and forested trails seem like a separate world entirely, where the buzz of the city is suddenly replaced by the endangered sound of silence. There are a number of ways to go about visiting Arthur’s Pass Nationl Park from Christchurch, some of which are listed below if the mountains suddenly call.