The South Island or Te Waipounamu is the larger of the two major islands of New Zealand, the other being the smaller but more populous North Island. It is bordered to the north by Cook Strait, to the west by the Tasman Sea, and to the south and east by the Pacific Ocean. The South Island covers 150,437 square kilometres and is influenced by a temperate climate. As it has a 32% larger landmass than the North Island, it is sometimes referred to as the "mainland" of New Zealand, especially by South Island residents; however, only 23% of New Zealand's 4.6 million inhabitants live in the South Island.
In the early stages of European (Pākehā) settlement of the country, the South Island had the majority of the European population and wealth due to the 1860s gold rushes. The North Island population overtook the South in the early 20th century, with 56% of the population living in the North in 1911, and the drift north of people and businesses continued throughout the century.
It is divided along its length by the Southern Alps, the highest peak of which is Aoraki/Mount Cook at 3754 metres, with the high Kaikoura Ranges to the northeast. There are eighteen peaks of more than 3000 metres 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 such as Fiordland, very high proportion of native bush, and Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers. 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 Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
We have visited New Zealand many times and always enjoy the rugged, unspoilt beauty of the South Island. Here are some photos flying over the mountainous terrain of the Southern Alps and then emerging onto the Canterbury plains.
This post is part of the Our World Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Travel Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Wordless Wednesday meme.