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Spotlight: Dunedin / Otago

Dunedin has several claims to fame and it's easy to experience them as you explore this Celtic-influenced city that prospered during the gold rush of the 1860s.

Home to the world's steepest street, it also has New Zealand's only castle, while the Dunedin railway station is the most photographed building in the country.

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Discover the South Island

Breathtaking mountains peak above kilometers of pristine forest, picturesque lakes & pure rivers flowing across the landscape-the South Island of New Zealand is a natural wonder that has to be seen to be believed. It's a place abundant in inspiring experiences. From the golden Tasman beaches at the top of the island, to the rugged Southland coastline, the vivid textures of the South Island will excite all your senses.

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01nelson

Nelson / Abel Tasman

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With three National Parks within 90 minutes of the city, the Nelson Tasman region boasts an ever-changing landscape: from alpine lakes and raging rivers, to wide, sandy coastlines. It’s a place that provides a backdrop of stunning scenery and plenty of leisurely adventure, both on and off the water.

A rich and fertile countryside provides deliciously fresh produce, while grapes and hops are handcrafted into fine wines and thirst-quenching brews. As you pick your path through rolling hills and along the golden coasts, take time to visit the gourmet food producers, boutique wineries and breweries and the studios of the talented artistic community that thrives here.

With the largest fishing port in Australasia, Nelson Tasman is also the perfect place to indulge in New Zealand seafood. Fresh fish, scallops, clams and mussels are among the many delicacies to feature on menus throughout the area.

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Marlborough

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Marlborough is a region of spectacular scenic beauty from the stunning Marlborough Sounds to the magnificent high country and the wild Kaikoura coast. In the heart of all this are the Wairau and Awatere valleys - home to world famous Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, superb aromatics, elegant chardonnays, fine method traditionelle and rich pinot noirs that make Marlborough New Zealand's premier wine region.

The Marlborough Sounds is a coastal wonderland, with winding waterways, sheltered bays and ancient untouched forest. Cruise, kayak, or sail the endless bays. A warm welcome awaits you at the lodges and resorts along the way, from where you can walk or mountain bike along breath-taking scenic paths, including the famous Queen Charlotte Track.

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Kaikoura

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With a rich ocean environment it’s home to a variety of marine life including seals, dolphins, whales and albatross. This makes Kaikoura an ideal spot for some of New Zealand’s best eco-tourism experiences complemented by fascinating Maori and European histories and a range of exhilarating sea and land-based activities.

Kaikoura is easy to visit by road, rail or air. Just a 2.5 hour drive from Christchurch, Kaikoura is located on the Alpine Pacific Touring route, linking it with Hanmer Springs alpine spa village and the Waipara Valley wine region. The Coastal Pacific scenic rail service connects Kaikoura with Christchurch and, combined with the Cook Strait ferry services, is an easy journey from Wellington.

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Hanmer Springs

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Just a 90 minute drive from Christchurch, Hanmer Springs offers the best of New Zealand all in one setting. With its famous hot pools set beside a dramatic mountain and river landscape, Hanmer Springs is perfect for adventure or indulgence-or a bit of both!

A sensational area to visit all-year round, it’s hot in summer, bursting with lambs, daffodils and blossom in spring, an incredible mash of colour in autumn, while in winter expect to find postcard-perfect snowy scenes.

Kiwi to its core with warm hospitality, the region is highlighted by excellent boutique cafes and restaurants, which serve high quality local cuisine.

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Christchurch / Canterbury

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Witness Christchurch re-emerge after the earthquakes as a contemporary, world-leading, smart city. While part of Christchurch's centre remians off-limits, there is still so much to do. From the alps to the ocean it is the perfect setting for the beginning of your unforgettable South island experience.

Set on the Avon River, Christchurch rests between the sparkling Pacific Ocean, the majestic Southern Alps, and a spectacular peninsula dotted with charming townships and hidden bays.

Explore a myriad of open-air markets, indulge in the eclectic atmosphere of busy cafes, bars and restaurants dotted around the city and be entertained by talented performers and friendly locals. Enjoy a punt down the Avon or a leisurely stroll through the Botanic Gardens. Head to the city’s green heart, Hagley Park, for world-class entertainment at the pop-up events village or learn about the city’s seismic research, as history is being made.

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West Coast

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Whether you're seeking relaxation in the peace and quiet of New Zealand's pure green landscapes, or nail biting, thrill seeking action, the West Coast has it all.

With a rich mining history, your journey along the West Coast will reveal the fascinating stories of settlers seeking greenstone and gold, old Maori settlement sites and ghost towns.

Explore the West Coast’s rich environmental heritage through the extensive walking tracks, the national parks and the spectacular glaciers. Savour the sights and sounds of the beautiful, wild coastline stretching from north to south for 600km. Marvel at the natural wonder of the Pancake Rocks and Blowholes, where you’ll see the magnificent limestone formations thought to be 30 million years in the making.

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Mt Cook / Mackenzie

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Rich golden landscapes, powder blue canals and bright turquoise glacial lakes form the tapestry of the Mackenzie Country. Located halfway between Christchurch and Queenstown in the heart of the Mackenzie, Lake Tekapo is renowned for its incredibly clear starry nights.

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South Canterbury

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Friendly South Canterbury welcomes visitors to have a memorable family holiday, romantic escape or relaxing break. Around two hours drive from both Christchurch and Dunedin, the “food bowl of New Zealand” is known for its high quality, natural fresh food and gourmet healthy food products.

With close proximity to rivers, the sea and the Southern Alps, a wide range of adventurous and more gentle activities are on offer all year round.

In Timaru, the urban centre of South Canterbury, take a beach-side stroll alongside sparkling Caroline Bay, and enjoy relaxed shopping and friendly cafes nearby. In the charming, historic village of Geraldine, enjoy the genuine country town atmosphere, delicious locally produced gourmet food and plenty of adventure activities nearby.

Other townships worth exploring include Pleasant Point and Temuka, both only around 15 minutes drive from Timaru.

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Waitaki / Oamaru

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Oamaru is a picturesque harbour town centrally located on the South Island's East Coast three hours south of Christchurch or 90 minutes north of Dunedin. Explore museums, shops and galleries within some of New Zealand's best 19th century architecture. With one of the country's oldest public gardens, two penguin colonies, four golf courses and many walking and cycling trails there are plenty of opportunities to experience nature as its best.

Discover the Waitaki Valley, an unspoilt, untouched paradise with some of the best scenery in New Zealand. A drive through the Valley will inspire you to get in touch with nature, either through camping, boating or picnicking by one of the four beautiful lakes (Lake Ohau, Benmore, Aviemore or Waitaki). There’s the fossil trail and other limestone wonders to discover, while the developing wine industry in the Valley is an opportunity to experience cold climate varietals while enjoying a platter of local produce.

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08wanaka

Wanaka

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Whatever the season, Wanaka offers you two things: the freedom to do as you please away from the crowds and the chance to enjoy the very best the South has to offer.

In summer, the lake and resort town become a playground for those that love the water and a real Kiwi holiday lifestyle, while autumn is a spectacular time of year to visit as trees turn to a mix of colours from glowing golds to vibrant reds.

In winter and spring, Wanaka’s pure mountain air, crisp sunny days and breathtaking vistas coupled with New Zealand’s largest skiable terrain means it’s a popular destination for skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts from throughout the world.

Escape into nature along Wanaka’s many walking tracks - from gentle lakeside strolls to high alpine treks – or explore the Mt Aspiring National Park wilderness. Whether you want to hike, climb, fish or enjoy a scenic flight or jet boating, your Wanaka experience is sure to be unforgettable.

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09queenstown

Queenstown

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Set in the magnificent landscapes of the Southern Alps, Queenstown boasts majestic beauty combined with an unrivaled range of activities and superior accommodation options. Its reputation as an adventure destination stems from the innovations of jet boating and bungy jumping. From the wild, to the mild, the region offers activities that will challenge your senses, while others will soothe and rejuvenate your soul.

Queenstown is home to the world’s southern most wine-producing region and several internationally renowned golf courses, as well as fantastic fishing, superb walking trails and many other invigorating outdoor pursuits.

Whether you are on the lake, a river, mountaintop or in the air, be prepared to experience some of the very best the South has to offer, all in one place.

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11dunedin

Dunedin / Otago

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Dunedin has several claims to fame and it's easy to experience them as you explore this Celtic-influenced city that prospered during the gold rush of the 1860s. Home to the world's steepest street, it also has New Zealand's only castle, while the Dunedin railway station is the most photographed building in the country.

Across Otago Harbour to the peninsula be enthralled by its natural beauty and amazing wildlife including the world’s rarest penguin - the yellow-eyed penguin - New Zealand sea lions, New Zealand fur seals and little blue penguins. Visit the only mainland breeding colony of the Northern Royal Albatross: large majestic seabirds with a wingspan of three metres.

To the west of the city explore the amazing landscape of Central Otago while to both the north and south there are quaint towns and villages dotted along the coastline.

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Te Anau / Fiordland

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Renowned as the home of the Mitre peak and the awe-inspiring fiords of Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound, Fiordland has achieved World Heritage status. Numerous short walks and multi-day hiking trails, including three of the New Zealand Great walks (the Milford, Routeburn, and Kepler Tracks), have earned Fiordland the reputation of one of the world's finest walking destinations. Combine your walk with a jet boat ride, a horse trek or a quad-bike trip and you have an adventure of a lifetime.

The attractive town of Te Anau, located on the shores of the South Island’s largest lake, is the gateway to Fiordland and provides a perfect base to explore the area. Here you can enjoy a range of activities on or off the water, fine restaurants, seven-days-a-week shopping and a large range of accommodation options.

From Te Anau it is a 2 hour drive through some of the most beautiful South Island scenery to Milford Sound or 20 minutes by road to the most picturesque lake in the world, Lake Manapouri, and the start of a Doubtful Sound excursion.

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Central Otago

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Central Otago is a place where memories are made.

The area has a continental climate – four distinct seasons each with its own beauty. Landscapes that inspire artists and photographers are prolific. The area's wines and fruit are world class – flavours nurtured by hand, crafted by nature. Some of New Zealand’s best cycling experiences are here – the Otago Central Rail Trail is just one.

Central Otago is a Must Do holiday destination. Cycle trails at your pace; indulge in a Central Otago wine – in stunning settings; eat summer fruit picked straight from the tree – bursting with flavour; try the ancient sport of curling; fish, boat and picnic on beautiful lakes and rivers; play golf on varied and uncrowded courses; and camp with the family like it used to be – at friendly holiday parks.

Pick your favourite Central Otago Must Do’s – then plan a visit to create your own Central Otago memories.

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Invercargill / Southland

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Every one of Southland's districts offer the traveler a unique discovery just waiting to be explored. From the unspoiled beauty of Stewart Island, the bright lights of Invercargill and the rugged coastline of The Catlins, visitors will be captivated with every destination in Southland.

Home to several rare New Zealand species, including Yellow-eyed penguins and Hector’s Dolphins, Southland is a wildlife and nature-lover’s dream place to be. It also offers some of the best walking tracks in the country. And to top it off, Southland produces some of the best seafood of the South. Its blue cod, Bluff oysters (in season) and crayfish are sure to please, while meat lovers are bound to enjoy Southland’s tasty and tender lamb and wild venison.

The best way to explore Southland is by camper van or car but the most important thing you need is time: because, if you don’t stop you’ll miss the true delights hidden throughout the region.

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