South Island (Māori: Te Wai Pounamu) is the larger of the two major
islands of New Zealand, the other being the more populous
North Island. It is bordered to the north
by Cook Strait, to the west by the Tasman Sea, to the south and east by the
The territory of the South Island covers 151,215 square kilometres
(58,384 sq mi) and is influenced by a temperate climate.
The South Island is often
called "The Mainland". Today this expression is used humorously, although
still with pride by "Mainlanders", since while it is a somewhat larger
landmass than the North Island, only about a quarter of New Zealand's
4.5 million inhabitants live in the South Island.
However, in the early stages
of European settlement of the country, the South Island was pre-eminent,
with the majority of the European population and wealth focused there due to
Compared to the more populated and multi-ethnic North Island, the South
Island has a smaller, more homogeneous resident population of 1,058,500
(June 2014 estimate).
The South Island, with an area of 151,215 km² (58,093 square miles), is the
largest land mass of New Zealand; it contains about one quarter of the New
Zealand population and is the world's 12th-largest island.
It is divided
along its length by the Southern Alps, the highest peak of which is
Aoraki/Mount Cook at 3754 metres
(12,316 ft). There are eighteen peaks of more than 3000 metres (9800 ft) in
the South Island.
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
Franz Josef Glaciers.
The South Island is know for scenic beauty and popular tourist
activities include sightseeing, adventure tourism, such as glacier climbing
and Bungee jumping, tramping (hiking), kayaking, and camping. Numerous
walking and hiking paths such as the
Routeburn Track and the
Milford Track having huge international recognition.
An increase in
direct international flights to
Queenstown has boosted the
number of overseas tourists.
Fiordland National Park, Abel Tasman National Park, Westland National
Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park,
Kaikoura and the
Marlborough Sounds are
regarded as the main tourism destinations in the South Island and amongst
the Top 10 destinations in New Zealand.
The dramatic landscape of the South Island has made it a popular location
for the production of several films, including the Lord of the Rings
trilogy and the The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the