South Island or Te Waipounamu (in Māori) 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
South Island covers 150,437 square kilometres
(58,084 sq mi), making it the world's 12th-largest
island. It has a temperate climate.
It has a 32 percent larger landmass than the
North Island so is
sometimes referred to as the "mainland" of New Zealand, especially by
South Island residents, but only 23 percent of New Zealand's 4.8
million inhabitants live there. 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
North Island population overtook the South in the early
20th century, with 56 percent of the population living in the North in
1911, and the drift north of people and businesses continued
throughout the century.
1 Naming and usage
2.2 Classical Māori period
2.3 European discovery
2.4 European settlement
2.5 2010–2011 earthquakes
2.5.1 September 2010
2.5.2 February 2011
2.5.3 June 2011
3 Government and politics
3.1 Administrative divisions
3.2 Political parties
3.3 Law enforcement
3.3.2 Correctional facilities
3.3.3 Customs service
5.2 Stock exchanges
5.3 Trade unions
6.1 Ski areas and resorts
7.1 Road transport
7.2 Rail transport
7.3 Water transport
7.3.1 Ports and harbours
7.4 Air transport
8.3 Natural geographic features
8.3.5 Te Wāhipounamu World Heritage site
8.4 Protected areas
8.4.2 National parks
9 Natural history
11.1 Emergency medical services
12.3.3 Radio stations
13 See also
15 Further reading
16 External links
Naming and usage
South Island (political geography), in relation to North Island;
South Island and smaller surrounding islands
In the 19th century, some maps named the
South Island as Middle Island
or New Munster, and the name
South Island or
New Leinster was used for
today's Stewart Island/Rakiura. In 1907 the Minister for Lands gave
instructions to the Land and Survey Department that the name Middle
Island was not to be used in future. "
South Island will be adhered to
in all cases".
Although the island had been known as the
South Island for many years,
in 2009 the
New Zealand Geographic Board found that, along with the
North Island, the
South Island had no official name. After a public
consultation, the board officially named the island
South Island or Te
Waipounamu in October 2013.
Said to mean "the Water(s) of Greenstone", this name possibly evolved
from Te Wāhi
Pounamu "the Place Of Greenstone". The island is also
Te Waka a Māui which means "Māui's Canoe". In some Māori
South Island existed first, as the boat of Maui, while
North Island was the fish that he caught.
In prose, the two main islands of
New Zealand are called the North
Island and the South Island, with the definite article. It is normal
to use the preposition in rather than on. Maps, headings, tables
and adjectival expressions use
South Island without "the".
Further information: History of New Zealand
Charcoal rock drawing at Carters rockpool on the Opihi River
First European impression of Māori, at Murderers' Bay, 1642.
Ships in what is likely to be
Akaroa Harbour some time in the early
Gabriel's Gully during the
Central Otago Gold Rush, 1862.
Benmore Dam is the largest of eight dams within the Waitaki power
scheme and was commissioned in 1965.
Charcoal drawings can be found on limestone rock shelters in the
centre of the South Island, with over 500 sites stretching from
Kaikoura to North Otago. The drawings are estimated to be between 500
and 800 years old, and portray animals, people and fantastic
creatures, possibly stylised reptiles. Some of the birds pictured
are long extinct, including moa and Haast's eagles. They were drawn by
early Māori, but by the time Europeans arrived, local Māori did not
know the origins of the drawings.
Classical Māori period
Early inhabitants of the
South Island were the Waitaha. They were
largely absorbed via marriage and conquest by the
Kāti Mamoe in the
16th century.
Kāti Mamoe were in turn largely absorbed via marriage and conquest by
Kāi Tahu who migrated south in the 17th century. While today
there is no distinct
Kāti Mamoe organisation, many
Kāi Tahu have
Kāti Mamoe links in their whakapapa and, especially in the far south
of the island.
Around the same time a group of Māori migrated to Rekohu (the Chatham
Islands), where, in adapting to the local climate and the availability
of resources, they eventually evolved into a separate people known as
the Moriori with its own distinct language — closely related to the
parent culture and language in mainland New Zealand. One notable
feature of the Moriori culture, an emphasis on pacifism, proved
disadvantageous when Māori warriors arrived in the 1830s aboard a
chartered European ship.
In the early 18th century, Kāi Tahu, a Māori tribe who originated on
the east coast of the North Island, began migrating to the northern
part of the South Island. There they and
Kāti Mamoe fought Ngāi Tara
Rangitāne in the Wairau Valley. Ngāti Māmoe then ceded the east
coast regions north of the Clarence River to Kāi Tahu. Kāi Tahu
continued to push south, conquering Kaikoura. By the 1730s, Kāi Tahu
had settled in Canterbury, including Banks Peninsula. From there they
spread further south and into the West Coast.
Ngāti Toa under the leadership of Te Rauparaha
Kāi Tahu at Kaikoura.
Ngāti Toa then visited
Kaiapoi, ostensibly to trade. When they attacked their hosts, the
Kāi Tahu killed all the leading
Ngāti Toa chiefs
except Te Rauparaha.
Te Rauparaha returned to his Kapiti Island
stronghold. In November 1830
Te Rauparaha persuaded Captain John
Stewart of the brig Elizabeth to carry him and his warriors in secret
to Akaroa, where by subterfuge they captured the leading Kāi Tahu
chief, Te Maiharanui, and his wife and daughter. After destroying Te
Maiharanui's village they took their captives to Kapiti and killed
them. John Stewart, though arrested and sent to trial in Sydney as an
accomplice to murder, nevertheless escaped conviction.
In the summer of 1831–32
Te Rauparaha attacked the
Kaiapoi was engaged in a three-month siege by Te
Rauparaha, during which his men successfully sapped the pā. They then
Kāi Tahu on
Banks Peninsula and took the pā at Onawe. In
Kāi Tahu retaliated under the leadership of
Ngāti Toa at
Kāi Tahu prevailed,
and killed many Ngāti Toa, although
Te Rauparaha again escaped.
Fighting continued for a year or so, with
Kāi Tahu maintaining the
Ngāti Toa never again made a major incursion into Kāi
Tahu territory. By 1839
Kāi Tahu and
Ngāti Toa established peace
Te Rauparaha released the
Kāi Tahu captives he held. Formal
marriages between the leading families in the two tribes sealed the
The first Europeans known to reach the
South Island were the crew of
Abel Tasman who arrived in his ships Heemskerck and
Zeehaen. In December 1642, Tasman anchored at the northern end of the
Golden Bay which he named Moordenaar's Bay (Murderers Bay)
before sailing northward to
Tonga following a clash with Māori.
Tasman sketched sections of the two main islands' west coasts. Tasman
called them Staten Landt, after the States General of the Netherlands,
and that name appeared on his first maps of the country. Dutch
cartographers changed the name to Nova Zeelandia in Latin, from Nieuw
Zeeland, after the Dutch province of Zeeland. It was subsequently
New Zealand by British naval captain
James Cook of HM
Bark Endeavour who visited the islands more than 100 years after
Tasman during (1769–1770).
The first European settlement in the
South Island was founded at Bluff
in 1823 by James Spencer, a veteran of the Battle of Waterloo.
In January 1827, the French explorer
Jules Dumont d'Urville
Jules Dumont d'Urville arrived in
Tasman Bay on the corvette Astrolabe. A number of landmarks around
Tasman Bay were named by d'Urville and his crew including d'Urville
French Pass and Torrent Bay.
When Britain annexed
New Zealand in 1840, the
South Island briefly
became a part of the Colony of New South Wales. This annexation
was in response to France’s attempts to colonise the
South Island at
Akaroa and the
New Zealand Company attempts to establish a
separate colony in Wellington, and so Lieutenant-Governor William
Hobson declared British sovereignty over all of
New Zealand on 21 May
North Island by treaty and the South by discovery).
On 17 June 1843, Māori natives and the British settlers clashed at
Wairau in what became known as the Wairau Affray. Also known as the
Wairau Massacre in most older texts, it was the first serious clash of
arms between the two parties after the signing of the Treaty of
Waitangi and the only one to take place in the South Island. Four
Māori died and three were wounded in the incident, while among the
Europeans the toll was 22 dead and five wounded. Twelve of the
Europeans were shot dead or clubbed to death after surrendering to
Māori who were pursuing them.
Otago Settlement, sponsored by the Free Church of Scotland, took
concrete form in
Otago in March 1848 with the arrival of the first two
immigrant ships from
Greenock (on the Firth of Clyde) — the John
Wickliffe and the Philip Laing. Captain William Cargill, a veteran of
the Peninsular War, served as the colony's first leader: Otago
citizens subsequently elected him to the office of Superintendent of
the Province of Otago.
North Island was convulsed by the Land Wars of the 1860s and
1870s, the South Island, with its low Māori population, was generally
peaceful. In 1861 gold was discovered at
Gabriel's Gully in Central
Otago, sparking a gold rush.
Dunedin became the wealthiest city in the
country and many in the
South Island resented financing the North
Island’s wars. In 1865 Parliament voted on a Bill to make the South
Island independent: it was defeated 17 to 31.
In the 1860s, several thousand Chinese men, mostly from the Guangdong
province, migrated to
New Zealand to work on the South Island
goldfields. Although the first Chinese migrants had been invited by
Otago Provincial government they quickly became the target of
hostility from white settlers and laws were enacted specifically to
discourage them from coming to New Zealand.
Main article: 2010 Canterbury earthquake
An earthquake with magnitude 7.1 occurred in the
South Island of New
Zealand at Saturday 04:35 am local time, 4 September 2010 (16:35
UTC, 3 September 2010). The earthquake occurred at a depth of 10
kilometres (6.2 mi), and there were no fatalities.
The epicentre was located 40 kilometres (25 mi) west of
Christchurch; 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) south-east of Darfield;
190 kilometres (120 mi) south-southeast of Westport; 295
kilometres (183 mi) south-west of Wellington; and 320 kilometres
(200 mi) north-northeast of Dunedin.
Building damage in Worcester Street, corner Manchester Street, with
ChristChurch Cathedral in the background. (September 2010)
Sewers were damaged, gas and water lines were broken, and power to
up to 75% of the city was disrupted. Among the facilities impacted
by lack of power was the
Christchurch Hospital, which was forced to
use emergency generators in the immediate aftermath of the quake.
A local state of emergency was declared at 10:16 am on 4
September for the city, and evacuations of parts were planned to begin
later in the day. People inside the
Christchurch city centre were
evacuated, and the city's central business district remained closed
until 5 September. A curfew from 7 pm on 4 September to
7 am on 5 September was put in place. The
New Zealand Army
was also deployed to assist police and enforce the curfew. All schools
were closed until 8 September so they could be checked.
Christchurch International Airport was closed following the earthquake
and flights in and out of it cancelled. It reopened at 1:30 pm
following inspection of the main runway.
The earthquake was reported to have caused widespread damage and power
outages. 63 aftershocks were also reported in the first 48 hours with
three registering 5.2 magnitude.
Christchurch residents reported
chimneys falling in through roofs, cracked ceilings and collapsed
brick walls. The total insurance costs of this event were
estimated to reach up to $11 billion according to the New Zealand
Main article: February 2011
A store damaged in the February 2011 earthquake.
Pyne Gould Building, 24 February 2011
A large aftershock of magnitude 6.3 occurred on 22 February 2011 at
12:51 pm. It was centred just to the north of Lyttelton, 10
kilometres south east of Christchurch, at a depth of 5 km.
Although lower on the moment magnitude scale than the quake of
September 2010, the intensity and violence of the ground shaking was
measured to be VIII on the MMI and among the strongest ever recorded
globally in an urban area due to the shallowness and proximity of the
epicentre. Early assessments indicated that about a third of the
buildings in the Central Business District would have to be
In contrast to the September 2010 quake, the February 2011 earthquake
struck on a busy weekday afternoon. This, along with the strength of
the quakes, and the proximity to the city centre resulted in 181
This event promptly resulted in the declaration of New Zealand's first
National State of Emergency. Many buildings and landmarks were
severely damaged, including the iconic 'Shag Rock' and Christchurch
International bodies quickly offered assistance. Contingents of Urban
Search and Rescue (USAR) soon arrived. Teams were provided by
Australia, United States, Singapore, Britain, Taiwan, Japan and China.
New Zealand Navy was involved immediately. The HMNZS
Canterbury, which was docked at Lyttelton when the quake struck, was
involved in providing local community assistance, in particular by
providing hot meals.
After inspection, the runway at
Christchurch Airport was found to be
in good order. Due to the demand of citizens wishing to leave the
city, the national airline Air New Zealand, offered a $50 Domestic
Standby airfare. The Air
New Zealand CEO increased the domestic
airline traffic from
Wellington and Auckland.
Thousands of people took up this offer to relocate temporarily in the
wake of the event.
On 1 March at 12:51, a week after the tragedy,
New Zealand observed a
Main article: June 2011
On 13 June 2011 at about 1:00 pm
New Zealand time, Christchurch
was again rocked by a magnitude 5.7 quake, followed by a magnitude 6.3
quake (initially thought to be 6.0) at 2:20 pm, centred in a
similar location to that of the February quake with a depth of 6.0
kilometres. Dozens of aftershocks occurred over the following days,
including several over magnitude 4.
Phone lines and power were lost in some suburbs, and liquefaction
surfaced mainly in the eastern areas of the city which were worst
affected following the aftershocks. Many residents in and around
the hillside suburb of Sumner self-evacuated.
Further damage was reported to buildings inside the cordoned central
business district, with an estimate of 75 additional buildings needing
demolition. Among the buildings further damaged was the
Christchurch Cathedral, which lost its iconic rose window, a
factor reducing the likelihood of the cathedral being restored.
There was only one death recorded following the quake; however there
were many injuries.
Government and politics
Canterbury Provincial Council Buildings
Canterbury Provincial Council Buildings in Christchurch, designed
by Benjamin Mountfort.
Edward John Eyre, the Lieutenant-Governor of New Munster.
South Island has no separately represented country subdivision,
but is guaranteed 16 of the electorates in the
New Zealand House of
Representatives. A two-tier structure constituted under the Local
Government Act 2002 gives the
South Island (and its adjacent islands)
seven regional councils for the administration of regional
environmental and transport matters and 25 territorial authorities
that administer roads, sewerage, building consents, and other local
matters. Four of the territorial councils (one city and three
districts) also perform the functions of a regional council and are
known as unitary authorities.
New Zealand was separated from the colony of
New South Wales
New South Wales in
1841 and established as a
Crown colony in its own right, the Royal
Charter effecting this provided that "the principal Islands,
heretofore known as, or commonly called, the 'Northern Island', the
'Middle Island', and 'Stewart's Island', shall henceforward be
designated and known respectively as 'New Ulster', 'New Munster', and
These divisions were at first of geographical significance only, not
used as a basis for the government of the colony, which was
centralised in Auckland. New
Munster consisted of the
South Island and
the southern portion of the North Island, up to the mouth of the Patea
River. The name New
Munster was given by the Governor of New Zealand,
Captain William Hobson, in honour of Munster, the Irish province in
which he was born.
The situation was altered in 1846 when the
New Zealand Constitution
Act 1846. divided the colony into two provinces: New Ulster
Province (the North Island), and
New Munster Province
New Munster Province (the South
Island and Stewart Island). Each province had a Governor and
Legislative and Executive Council, in addition to the
Governor-in-Chief and Legislative and Executive Council for the whole
colony. However, the 1846 Constitution Act was later suspended, and
only the Provincial government provisions were implemented. Early in
Edward John Eyre
Edward John Eyre was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of New
Munster. In 1851 the Provincial Legislative Councils were permitted to
be partially elective.
The Provincial Council of New
Munster had only one legislative
session, in 1849, before it succumbed to the virulent attacks of
settlers from Wellington. Governor Sir George Grey, sensible to the
pressures, inspired an ordinance of the General Legislative Council
under which new Legislative Councils would be established in each
province with two-thirds of their members elected on a generous
franchise. Grey implemented the ordinance with such deliberation that
neither Council met before advice was received that the United Kingdom
Parliament had passed the
New Zealand Constitution Act 1852.
This act dissolved these provinces in 1853, after only seven years'
existence, and New
Munster was divided into the provinces of
Canterbury, Nelson, and Otago. Each province had its own legislature
known as a Provincial Council that elected its own Speaker and
Secession movements have surfaced several times in the South Island. A
Premier of New Zealand, Sir Julius Vogel, was amongst the first people
to make this call, which was voted on by the
New Zealand Parliament as
early as 1865. The desire for the
South Island to form a separate
colony was one of the main factors in moving the capital of New
Wellington that year.
South Island nationalist groups have emerged over recent years
South Island Party with a pro-South agenda, fielded
candidates in the 1999 General Election. Today, several internet based
groups advocate their support for greater self determination.
On 13 October 2010,
South Island Mayors led by Bob Parker of
Christchurch displayed united support for a Southern Mayoral Council.
Supported by Waitaki Mayor Alex Familton and
Invercargill Mayor Tim
Shadbolt, Bob Parker said that increased cooperation and the forming
of a new South Island-wide mayoral forum were essential to
representing the island's interests in
Wellington and countering the
In February 2012, the
South Island Strategic Alliance (SISA) involving
nearly all the Councils of the
South Island was formed. This group is
made up of elected representatives and senior management from 12
councils and the Department of Internal Affairs. It will examine
potential projects where there are real and achievable benefits, for
example in roads, information technology and library services and then
allocate the project to a group of willing council CEOs for
Territorial authorities of the South Island
There are 23 territorial authorities within the South Island: 4 city
councils and 19 district councils. Three territorial authorities
(Nelson City Council, and the Tasman and Marlborough District
Councils) also perform the functions of a regional council and thus
are known as unitary authorities.
Density (per km2)
Central Otago District
^ Population as of June 2017.
^ Total of
Christchurch City and
Banks Peninsula areas.
Stewart Island and Solander Islands.
This is a list of political parties, past and present, who have their
headquarters in the South Island.
Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party
Imperial British Conservative Party
National Democrats Party
New Zealand Democratic Party
New Zealand Progressive Party
South Island Party
Dunedin Central Police station.
Mitsubishi Diamante in Dunedin.
New Zealand Police is the primary law enforcement agency of New
Zealand including the South Island. Three decentralised Police
Districts cover the entire
South Island with each being commanded by a
Superintendent and having a central station from which subsidiary and
suburban stations are managed. The
Communications Centre handles all emergency and general calls within
the South Island.
The Tasman Police District covers 70,000 kilometres of territory,
encompassing the northern and most of the western portion of the South
Island. The West Coast alone spans the distance between
Auckland. There are 22 police stations in the Tasman District, with 6
being sole-charge - or one-person - stations. The Tasman Police
District has a total of 302 sworn police officers and 57 civilian or
nonsworn staff. Organisationally, the district has its headquarters in
Nelson and has three distinct Areas each headed by an
Inspector as its
commander. The areas are Nelson Bays, West Coast and Marlborough.
The Canterbury Police District is based in
Christchurch the largest
city in the
South Island and covers an area extending from the Conway
River, (just south of Kaikoura), to the Waitaki River, south of
The Southern Police District with its headquarters in
Oamaru in the North through to
Stewart Island in the far South
covers the largest geographical area of any of the 12 police districts
in New Zealand. The Southern District has three distinct Areas headed
Otago Rural, Southland and Dunedin.
Correctional facilities in the
South Island are operated by the
Department of Corrections as part of the
South Island Prison Region.
Christchurch Prison, also known as Paparua, is located in Templeton a
satellite town of Christchurch. It accommodates up to 780 minimum,
medium and high security male prisoners. It was built in 1925, and
also includes a youth unit, a self-care unit and the Paparua Remand
Centre (PRC), built in 1999 to replace the old Addington Prison.
Christchurch Women's Prison, also located in Templeton, is a facility
for women of all security classifications. It has the only
maximum/medium security accommodation for women prisoners in New
Zealand. It can accommodate up to 98 prisoners.
Rolleston prison is located in Rolleston, another satellite town of
Christchurch. It accommodates around 320 male prisoners of minimum to
low-medium security classifications and includes Kia Marama a
sixty-bed unit that provides an intensive 9-month treatment programme
for male child sex offenders.
Invercargill Prison, in Invercargill,
accommodates up to 172 minimum to low-medium security prisoners. Otago
Corrections Facility is located near Milton and houses up to 335
minimum to high-medium security male prisoners.
New Zealand Customs Service whose role is to provide border
control and protect the community from potential risks arising from
international trade and travel, as well as collecting duties and taxes
on imports to the country has offices at
Airport, Dunedin, Invercargill, Lyttelton and Nelson.
Further information: Cities and Towns of the South Island, Cities and
towns of the
South Island by population, and List of famous South
Compared to the more populated and multi-ethnic North Island, the
South Island has a smaller, more homogeneous resident population of
1,115,800 (June 2017). According to the Statistics New Zealand
Subnational Population Projections: 2006–2031; the South Island's
population will increase by an average of 0.6 percent a year to
1,047,100 in 2011, 1,080,900 in 2016, 1,107,900 in 2021, 1,130,900 in
2026 and 1,149,400 in 2031.
At the 2013 Census of Population and Dwellings, 88.2 percent of South
Islanders identified as of European ethnicity, 8.7 percent as Māori,
5.6 percent as Asian, 2.2 percent as Pacific Peoples, 0.8 percent as
Middle Eastern/Latin American/African, and 2.1 percent as another
ethnicity (mainly 'New Zealander').
Eighteen percent of the South Island's population was born overseas,
compared to 27.5 percent in the North Island. The
British Isles is the
largest region of origin, accounting for 37.9 percent of the
overseas-born population in the South Island.
Around 48.6 percent of South Islanders affiliate with Christianity and
3.1 percent affiliate with non-Christian religions, while 45.8 percent
Anglicanism is the largest Christian denomination in
South Island with 12.7 percent affiliating, closely followed by
Catholicism at 12.1 percent and
Presbyterianism at 11.7 percent.
Cities and towns of the
South Island by population
The Aviemore Dam, the penultimate hydro station on the Waitaki River
The Tiwai Point Aluminium Smelter near Bluff
Further information: List of
South Island companies
South Island economy is strongly focused on tourism and primary
industries like agriculture. The other main industry groups are
manufacturing, mining, construction, energy supply, education, health
and community services.
South Island is a major centre for electricity generation,
especially in the southern half of the island and especially from
hydroelectricity. In 2010, the island generated 18,010 GWh of
electricity, 41.5% of New Zealand's total electricity generation.
Nearly all (98.7%) of the island's electricity is generated by
hydroelectricity, with most of the remainder coming from wind
The three large hydro schemes in the South Island: Waitaki, Clutha,
and Manapouri, together produce nearly 92% of the island's
Waitaki River is the largest at 1738 MW of
installed capacity. The
Waitaki River is the largest hydroelectric
scheme, consisting of nine powerhouses commissioned between 1936 and
1985, and generating about 7600 GWh annually, around 18% of New
Zealand's electricity generation and more than 30% of all its
Clutha River has two major stations
Clyde Dam (432 MW, commissioned 1992) and
Roxburgh Dam (360 MW, commissioned 1962).
Manapouri Power Station
Manapouri Power Station is
an isolated station located in Southland, generating 730 MW of
electricity and producing 4800 GWh annually - the largest single
hydroelectric power station in the country.
While most of the electricity generated in the
South Island is
transported via the 220 kV grid (plus 110 kV and 66 kV
connectors) to major demand centres, including Christchurch, Dunedin,
and Tiwai Point Aluminium Smelter, around one-sixth of it is exported
North Island to meet its large (and increasing) power demands
HVDC Inter-Island link. The 611 km
HVDC Inter-Island was
commissioned in 1965, linking
Benmore Dam on the
Waitaki River in
Southern Canterbury, with Haywards substation in
Lower Hutt in the
North island, with cables crossing
Cook Strait between Fighting Bay
and Oteranga Bay. While the majority of the time the South Island
exports electricity to the
North Island via the link, it is also used
to import thermally-generated
North Island electricity in years of low
Offshore oil and gas is likely to become an increasing important part
South Island economy into the future.
Origin Energy has formed
a joint venture with Anadarko Petroleum, the second-largest
independent US natural gas producer to begin drilling for oil in the
Canterbury Basin off the coast of Dunedin. The 390 km2,
Carrack/Caravel prospect has the potential to deliver more than the
equivalent of 500,000,000 barrels (79,000,000 m3) of oil and gas.
Market analyst, Greg Easton from Craigs Investment Partners commented
that such a substantial find it could well turn
Dunedin from the
Edinburgh of the south to the
Aberdeen of the south.
Approximate location of the
Great South Basin
Great South Basin with approximate
location of allocated Oil Exploration Blocks
Great South Basin
Great South Basin off the coast of
Otago and Southland at over
500,000 km2 (covering an area 1.5 times New Zealand’s land
mass) is one of New Zealand’s largest undeveloped offshore petroleum
basins with prospects for both oil and gas. In July 2007 the New
Zealand Government awarded oil and gas exploration permits for four
areas of the Great South Basin, situated in the volatile waters off
the Southern Coast of New Zealand. The three successful permit holders
a consortium led by
New Zealand (Exploration) Limited
(United States) which includes local company Todd Exploration Limited
a consortium led by
New Zealand Limited (Austria) which includes
PTTEP Offshore Investment Company Ltd (Thailand),
and Production Australia Pty Ltd (Japan); and
Greymouth Petroleum Limited (New Zealand)
The sub-national GDP of the
South Island was estimated at US$27.8
billion in 2003, 21% of New Zealand's national GDP.
Due to the gold rushes of the 1860s, the
South Island had regional
stock exchanges in Christchurch,
Invercargill – all of
which were affiliated in the Stock Exchange Association of New
Zealand. However, in 1974 these regional exchanges were amalgamated to
form one national stock exchange, the
New Zealand Stock Exchange
(NZSE). Separate trading floors operated in both
Dunedin until the late 1980s. On 30 May 2003,
New Zealand Stock
Exchange Limited formally changed its name to
New Zealand Exchange
Limited, trading as NZX.
South Island Index is compiled quarterly from
publicly available information provided by NZX, Unlisted and
Bloomberg. It is a summary of the movements in market capitalisation
South Island based listed company. A company is included in
the Index where either its registered office and/or a substantial
portion of its operations are focused on the South Island.
There are several
South Island based trade union organisations. They
Furniture, Manufacturing & Associated Workers Union
New Zealand Building Trades Union
New Zealand Meat & Related Trades Workers Union
Southern Amalgamated Workers' Union
Whale watching in Kaikoura
Tourism is a huge earner for the South Island. 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 Milford Track, have huge
An increase in direct international flights to Christchurch, Dunedin
and Queenstown has boosted the number of overseas tourists.
Fiordland National Park,
Abel Tasman National Park, Westland National
Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, Queenstown,
Kaikoura and the
Marlborough Sounds are regarded as the main tourism destinations in
South Island and amongst the Top 10 destinations in New
Ski areas and resorts
Bungy jumping in Queenstown
Cardrona Alpine Resort
Lake Pukaki, with Mount Cook in the background.
This is a list of ski areas and resorts in the South Island.
Awakino ski area
Cardrona Alpine Resort
Hanmer Springs Ski Area
Helicopter access only
Heliskiing and snowcatting only
Porter Ski Area
Map showing the route of State Highway 6
Main article: Transport in New Zealand
Further information: List of
New Zealand state highways § South
New Zealand State Highway 1 §
South Island (SH1S)
South Island has a State Highway network of 4,921 km.
See also: List of
New Zealand railway lines and Rail transport in New
South Island Rail Network Map.
The South Island's railway network has two main lines, two secondary
lines, and a few branch lines. The Main North Line from Picton to
Christchurch and the
Main South Line
Main South Line from Lyttelton to Invercargill
Dunedin together comprise the
South Island Main Trunk Railway. The
secondary Midland Line branches from the
Main South Line
Main South Line in Rolleston
and passes through the
Southern Alps via the
Otira Tunnel to the West
Coast and its terminus in Greymouth. In Stillwater, it meets the other
secondary route, the Stillwater - Westport Line, which now includes
the Ngakawau Branch.
A number of other secondary routes are now closed, including the Otago
Central Railway, the isolated Nelson Section, and the interdependent
Waimea Plains Railway and Kingston Branch. An expansive network of
branch lines once existed, especially in Canterbury, Otago, and
Southland, but these are now almost completely closed. The branch
lines that remain in operation serve ports (
Bluff Branch and Port
Chalmers Branch), coal mines (Ohai Branch and Rapahoe Branch), and a
dairy factory (
Hokitika Branch). The first 64 km of the Otago
Central Railway remain in operation for tourist trains run by Dunedin
Railways (formerly Taieri Gorge Railway). The most significant freight
is coal from West Coast mines to the port of Lyttelton for export.
Passenger services were once extensive. Commuter trains operated
multiple routes around
Christchurch and Dunedin, plus a service
Invercargill and Bluff. Due to substantial losses, these were
cancelled between the late 1960s and early 1980s. The final services
to operate ran between Dunedin's City Centre and the suburb of
Mosgiel, and they ceased in 1982. Regional passenger trains were
once extensive, but are now limited to the
Christchurch to Picton and the
The Southerner between
Christchurch and Invercargill, once the
flagship of the network, was cancelled on 10 February 2002.
Subsequently, the architecturally significant
Dunedin Railway Station
has been used solely by the TGR's tourist trains, the Taieri Gorge
Limited along the
Otago Central Railway and the Seasider to
Palmerston. Rural passenger services on branch lines were provided by
mixed trains and Vulcan/88 seater railcars but the mixeds had largely
ceased to exist by the 1950s and the railcars were withdrawn in the
South Island saw the final use of steam locomotives in New
Zealand. Locomotives belonging to classes long withdrawn elsewhere
continued to operate on West Coast branches until the very late 1960s,
when they were displaced by DJ class diesels. In comparison to most
countries, where steam locomotives were last used on insubstantial
rural and industrial operations, the very last services run by steam
locomotives were the premier expresses between
South Island Limited until 1970 and the Friday and
Sunday night services until 1971. This was due to the carriages being
steam-heated. The final steam-hauled service in New Zealand, headed by
a member of the JA class, ran on 26 October 1971.
Main article: Transport in
New Zealand § Ferry services
Interislander DEV Arahura in the Marlborough Sounds.
South Island is separated from the
North Island by Cook Strait,
which is 24 kilometres (15 miles) wide at its narrowest point, and
requires a 70 kilometres (43 miles) ferry trip to cross.
Dunedin was the headquarters of the Union Steam Ship Company, once the
largest shipping company in the Southern Hemisphere.
Ports and harbours
Container ports: Lyttelton (Christchurch),
Port Chalmers (Dunedin)
Other ports: Nelson, Picton, Westport, Greymouth, Timaru, Bluff.
Otago Harbour, Halfmoon Bay (Stewart
Island/Rakiura), Milford Sound.
Freshwater: Queenstown and Kingston (
Te Anau and
C-17 Globemaster III
C-17 Globemaster III on the tarmac at
Dunedin International Airport control tower and terminal building in
2009 with an Air
Boeing 737-300 on the tarmac
Queenstown Airport from a
Glenorchy Air aircraft
Blenheim Airport (Woodbourne)
Christchurch International Airport (long-distance)
Cromwell Racecourse Aerodrome
Dunedin Airport (Limited)
Milford Sound Airport
Mount Cook Aerodrome
Queenstown Airport (Limited)
Forest Field Aerodrome
Te Anau / Manapouri
Richard Pearse Airport
A true-colour image of the South Island, after a powerful winter storm
New Zealand on 12 June 2006.
Aoraki/Mount Cook is the tallest mountain in New Zealand
The South Island, with an area of 150,437 km2
(58,084 sq mi), 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
3724 metres (12,218 ft), with the high
Kaikoura Ranges to
the northeast. 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 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.
2010 Canterbury earthquake
2010 Canterbury earthquake and 2011 Christchurch
On 4 September 2010, the
South Island was struck by a 7.1 magnitude
earthquake, which caused extensive damage, several power outages, and
many reports of aftershocks. Five and a half months later, the 22
Christchurch earthquake of 6.3 magnitude caused far more
additional damage in Christchurch, resulting in 181 deaths. This
quake struck at about lunchtime and was centred closer at Lyttelton,
and shallower than the prior quake, consequently causing extensive
The climate in the
South Island is mostly temperate. The mean
temperature for the
South Island is 8 °C (46 °F).
January and February are the warmest months while July is the coldest.
Historical maxima and minima are 42.4 °C (108.3 °F) in
Rangiora, Canterbury and −21.6 °C (−6.9 °F) in Ophir,
Conditions vary sharply across the regions from extremely wet on the
West Coast to semi-arid in the
Mackenzie Basin of inland Canterbury.
Most areas have between 600 and 1600 mm of rainfall with the most
rain along the West Coast and the least rain on the East Coast,
predominantly on the Canterbury Plains.
Christchurch is the driest
city, receiving about 640 mm (25 in) of rain per year while
Invercargill is the wettest, receiving about 1,150 mm
(45 in). The southern and south-western parts of South Island
have a cooler and cloudier climate, with around 1,400–1,600 hours of
sunshine annually; the northern and north-eastern parts of the South
Island are the sunniest areas and receive about 2,400–2,500
Panoramic view of some of the
Southern Alps in winter from the summit
of Hamilton Peak in the Craigieburn Range.
Natural geographic features
Main article: Fiords of New Zealand
Typical view of the Doubtful Sound.
South Island has 15 named maritime fiords which are all located in
the southwest of the island in a mountainous area known as Fiordland.
The spelling 'fiord' is used in
New Zealand rather than 'fjord',
although all the maritime fiords use the word Sound in their name
A number of lakes in the
Otago regions also fill glacial
Te Anau has three western arms which are fiords (and are
Lake McKerrow to the north of
Milford Sound is a fiord with
a silted-up mouth.
Lake Wakatipu fills a large glacial valley, as do
lakes Hakapoua, Poteriteri, Monowai and Hauroko in the far south of
Manapouri has fiords as its west, north and south
The Marlborough Sounds, a series of deep indentations in the coastline
at the northern tip of the South Island, are in fact rias, drowned
Glaciers of New Zealand
Franz Josef Glacier.
Most of New Zealand's glaciers are in the South Island. They are
generally found in the
Southern Alps near the Main Divide.
An inventory of
South Island glaciers during the 1980s indicated there
were about 3,155 glaciers with an area of at least one hectare
(2.5 acres). About a sixth of these glaciers covered more
than 10 hectares. These include the Fox and Franz Josef glaciers
on the West Coast, and the Tasman, Hooker, Mueller and Murchison
glaciers in the east.
Main article: Lakes of New Zealand
There are some 3,820 lakes in
New Zealand with a surface area larger
than one hectare. Much of the higher country in the
South Island was
covered by ice during the glacial periods of the last two million
years. Advancing glaciers eroded large steep-sided valleys, and often
carried piles of moraine (rocks and soil) that acted as natural dams.
When the glaciers retreated, they left basins that are now filled by
lakes. The level of most glacial lakes in the upper parts of the
Waitaki and Clutha rivers are controlled for electricity generation.
Hydroelectric reservoirs are common in
South Canterbury and Central
Otago, the largest of which is
Lake Benmore, on the Waitaki River.
South Island has 8 of New Zealand's 10 biggest lakes. They were
formed by glaciers and include
Lake Tekapo and Lake
Manapouri. The deepest (462 m) is
Lake Hauroko, in western
Southland. It is the 16th deepest lake in the world. Millions of years
Central Otago had a huge lake –
Lake Manuherikia. It was slowly
filled in with mud, and fossils of fish and crocodiles have been found
Main article: Volcanoes in New Zealand
Banks Peninsula is roughly circular, with many bays and two deep
There are 4 extinct volcanoes in the South Island, all located on the
Banks Peninsula forms the most prominent of these volcanic features.
Geologically, the peninsula comprises the eroded remnants of two large
shield volcanoes (Lyttelton formed first, then Akaroa). These formed
due to intraplate volcanism between about eleven and eight million
years ago (Miocene) on a continental crust. The peninsula formed as
offshore islands, with the volcanoes reaching to about 1,500 m
above sea level. Two dominant craters formed Lyttelton and Akaroa
Canterbury Plains formed from the erosion of the
Southern Alps (an
extensive and high mountain range caused by the meeting of the
Indo-Australian and Pacific tectonic plates) and from the alluvial
fans created by large braided rivers. These plains reach their widest
point where they meet the hilly sub-region of Banks Peninsula. A layer
of loess, a rather unstable fine silt deposited by the foehn winds
which bluster across the plains, covers the northern and western
flanks of the peninsula. The portion of crater rim lying between
Lyttelton Harbour and
Christchurch city forms the Port Hills.
Otago Harbour was formed from the drowned remnants of a giant
shield volcano, centred close to what is now the town of Port
Chalmers. The remains of this violent origin can be seen in the basalt
of the surrounding hills. The last eruptive phase ended some ten
million years ago, leaving the prominent peak of Mount Cargill.
Timaru was constructed on rolling hills created from the lava flows of
the extinct Mount Horrible, which last erupted many thousands of years
Te Wāhipounamu World Heritage site
Te Wāhipounamu (Māori for "the place of greenstone") is a World
Heritage site in the south west corner of the South Island.
Inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1990 it covers 26,000 km2
and incorporates the Aoraki/Mount Cook, the Fiordland, the Mount
Aspiring and the Westland National Parks.
It is thought to contain some of the best modern representations of
the original flora and fauna present in Gondwanaland, one of the
reasons for listing as a World Heritage site.
Broken River Ski Area
Broken River Ski Area in the Craigieburn
There are six forest parks in the
South Island which are on public
land administered by the Department of Conservation.
Situated in the Southland region.
Situated in the Canterbury region, its boundaries lie in part
alongside State Highway 73 and is adjacent to the eastern flanks of
the Southern Alps. The
Broken River Ski Area
Broken River Ski Area and the Craigieburn
Valley Ski Area lie within its borders. The
had used the area as an experimental forestry area and there is now an
environmental issue with the spread of wilding conifers.
Situated in the Canterbury region.
Situated in the Canterbury region.
Situated in the Marlborough region.
Situated in the West Coast region.
Abel Tasman National Park
The famous "Pancake Rocks" at Paparoa National Park
South Island has ten national parks established under the National
Parks Act 1980 and which are administered by the Department of
From north to south, the National Parks are:
Kahurangi National Park
(4,520 km2, established 1996) Situated in the north-west of the
South Island, Kahurangi comprises spectacular and remote country and
includes the Heaphy Track. It has ancient landforms and unique flora
and fauna. It is New Zealand's second largest national park.
Abel Tasman National Park
(225 km2, established 1942) Has numerous tidal inlets and beaches
of golden sand along the shores of Tasman Bay. It is New Zealand's
smallest national park.
Nelson Lakes National Park
(1,018 km2, established 1956) A rugged, mountainous area in
Nelson Region. It extends southwards from the forested shores of Lake
Rotoiti and Rotoroa to the Lewis Pass National Reserve.
Paparoa National Park
(306 km2, established 1987) On the West Coast of the South Island
between Westport and Greymouth. It includes the celebrated Pancake
Rocks at Punakaiki.
Arthur's Pass National Park
(1,144 km2, established 1929) A rugged and mountainous area
straddling the main divide of the Southern Alps.
Westland Tai Poutini National Park
(1,175 km2, established 1960) Extends from the highest peaks of
Southern Alps to a wild remote coastline. Included in the park are
glaciers, scenic lakes and dense rainforest, plus remains of old gold
mining towns along the coast.
Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park
(707 km2, established 1953) An alpine park, containing New
Zealand's highest mountain,
Aoraki/Mount Cook (3,754 m) and its
Tasman Glacier (29 km). A focus for
mountaineering, ski touring and scenic flights, the park is an area of
outstanding natural beauty. Together, the Mount Cook and Westland
National Parks have been declared a World Heritage Site.
Mount Aspiring National Park
(3,555 km2, established 1964) A complex of impressively glaciated
mountain scenery centred on
Mount Aspiring/Tititea (3,036 m), New
Zealand's highest peak outside of the main divide.
Fiordland National Park
(12,519 km2, established 1952) The largest national park in New
Zealand and one of the largest in the world. The grandeur of its
scenery, with its deep fiords, its lakes of glacial origin, its
mountains and waterfalls, has earned it international recognition as a
world heritage area.
Rakiura National Park
(1,500 km2, established 2002) On Stewart Island/Rakiura.
Other native reserves and parks
Hakatere Conservation Park
Hooker Valley at
Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, with Aoraki / Mount
Cook, the highest mountain in
New Zealand at 3,724 metres (12,218
feet), and Hooker
Lake in the background
South Island kea, a species of mountain parrot
South Island takahē
Main article: Birds of New Zealand
There are several bird species which are endemic to the South Island.
They include the kea, great spotted kiwi, Okarito brown kiwi, South
South Island pied oystercatcher, Malherbe's parakeet,
king shag, takahe, black-fronted tern,
South Island robin, rock wren,
wrybill, and yellowhead.
South Island bird species are now extinct, mainly due to hunting
by humans and predation by cats and rats introduced by humans. Extinct
species include the
South Island goose,
South Island giant moa,
South Island piopio.
Southern Institute of Technology
Southern Institute of Technology main campus
South Island has several tertiary level institutions:
Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology
Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology
Southern Institute of Technology
Tai Poutini Polytechnic
Telford Rural Polytechnic
University of Canterbury
University of Otago
Princess Margaret Hospital in Christchurch
Otago Regional Rescue Helicopter taking off from the Dunedin
Public Hospital helipad
Healthcare in the
South Island is provided by five District Health
Boards (DHBs). Organised around geographical areas of varying
population sizes, they are not coterminous with the Local Government
Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB)
Christchurch City, Hurunui District, Kaikoura
District, Selwyn District, Waimakariri District
Southern District Health Board (Southern DHB)
Invercargill City, Gore District, Southland District,
Central Otago District, Queenstown Lakes District,
Marlborough District Health Board (NMDHB)
Marlborough District, Nelson City, Tasman District,
South Canterbury District Health Board (SCDHB)
West Coast District Health Board (WCDHB)
Buller District, Grey District, Westland District
Emergency medical services
There are several air ambulance and rescue helicopter services
operating throughout the South Island.
Lake Districts Air Rescue Trust operates two AS350BA Squirrel's
AS355 Squirrel from Queenstown Airport.
New Zealand Flying Doctor Service operates a
Cessna 421 Golden
Eagle and a
Cessna Conquest C441 from
Otago Rescue Helicopter Trust operates a
MBB/Kawasaki BK 117
MBB/Kawasaki BK 117 from
Taieri Aerodrome near Mosgiel.
The Solid Energy Rescue Helicopter Trust operates an AS350BA Squirrel
The Summit Rescue Helicopter Trust operates an AS350BA Squirrel from
The Westpac Rescue Helicopter Trust operates a
MBB/Kawasaki BK 117
MBB/Kawasaki BK 117 and
an AS350BA Squirrel from
Christchurch International Airport.
Centre of Contemporary Art
Centre of Contemporary Art gallery in Christchurch
Old Chemistry Building,
Christchurch Arts Centre
South Island has contributed to the Arts in
New Zealand and
internationally through highly regarded artists such as Nigel Brown,
Frances Hodgkins, Colin McCahon, Shona McFarlane, Peter McIntyre
Grahame Sydney and Geoff Williams.
University of Canterbury
University of Canterbury School of Fine Arts was founded in 1950.
South Island Art Galleries include:
Centre of Contemporary Art
Christchurch Arts Centre
Dunedin Public Art Gallery
Parts of the
South Island principally Southland and the very
southernmost areas of
Otago near the border with Southland are famous
for its people speaking what is often referred to as the "Southland
burr", a semi-rhotic, Scottish-influenced dialect of the English
South Island has ten daily newspapers and a large number of weekly
community newspapers; major daily newspapers include the Ashburton
Greymouth Star, The Marlborough Express, The Nelson Mail,
Otago Daily Times, The Press, Southland Times, The Timaru
Herald, and West Coast Times.
The Press and
Otago Daily Times, serving
Dunedin respectively, are the South Island's
South Island has seven regional stations (either non-commercial
public service or privately owned) that broadcast only in one region
or city: 45 South TV, Channel 9, Canterbury Television, CUE, Mainland
Television, Shine TV, and Visitor TV. These stations mainly broadcast
free to air on
UHF frequencies, however some are carried on
subscription TV. Content ranges from local news, access broadcasts,
satellite sourced news, tourist information and Christian programming
to music videos.
A large number of radio stations serve communities throughout the
South Island; these include independent stations, but many are owned
by organisations such as Radio New Zealand,
New Zealand Media and
Entertainment, and MediaWorks New Zealand.
Bluff Maritime Museum
Ferrymead Heritage Park
Nelson Provincial Museum
Otago Settlers Museum: Toitū
New Zealand Air Force Museum
Southland Museum and Art Gallery
World of Wearable Art
Main article: Religion in New Zealand
Anglicanism is strongest in Canterbury (the city of Christchurch
having been founded as an Anglican settlement).
Catholicism is still has a noticeably strong presence on the West
Coast, and in Kaikoura. The territorial authorities with the highest
proportion of Catholics are
Kaikoura (where they are 18.4% of the
total population), Westland (18.3%), and Grey (17.8%).
Presbyterianism is strong in the lower
South Island — the city of
Dunedin was founded as a Presbyterian settlement, and many of the
early settlers in the region were Scottish Presbyterians. The
territorial authorities with the highest proportion of Presbyterians
are Gore (where they are 30.9% of the total population), Clutha
District (30.7%), and Southland (29.8%).
The first Muslims in
New Zealand were Chinese gold diggers working in
the Dunstan gold fields of
Otago in the 1860s. Dunedin's Al-Huda
mosque is the world's southernmost, and the farthest from
Main article: Sport in New Zealand
Christchurch based Crusaders rugby team playing the Bulls from
South Africa in the
Super Rugby competition.
A number of professional sports teams are based in the South Island
— with the major spectator sports of rugby union and cricket
particularly well represented. The Crusaders and Highlanders represent
the upper and lower
South Island respectively in rugby union's Super
Rugby competition; and Canterbury, Otago, Southland Stags, Tasman
Makos all participate in provincial rugby's ITM Cup. At cricket, the
South Island is represented by the Canterbury Wizards, Central Stags,
Otago Volts in the Plunket Shield, one day domestic series, and
the HRV Twenty20 Cup.
As well as rugby union and cricket, the
South Island also boasts
representative teams in the domestic basketball, soccer, ice hockey,
netball, and rugby league.
The North vs South match, sometimes known as the Interisland match was
a longstanding rugby union fixture in New Zealand. The first game was
played in 1897 and the last match was played in 1995.
Christchurch also hosted the 1974 Commonwealth Games. An unidentified
group is promoting a bid for the
South Island to host the 2022 Winter
New Zealand portal
Cities and towns of the
South Island by population
List of twin towns and sister cities in the South Island
Military of the South Island
South Island nationalism
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March 2011. Retrieved 2 March 2011.
^ From NIWA Science climate overview.
^ "Summary of
New Zealand climate extremes". National Institute of
Water and Atmospheric Research. 2004. Archived from the original on 13
January 2009. Retrieved 17 February 2008.
^ "Mean monthly sunshine hours". National Institute of Water and
Atmospheric Research. Archived from the original (XLS) on 15 October
^ Chinn, Trevor J.H., (1988),
Glaciers of New Zealand, in Satellite
image atlas of glaciers of the world, U.S. Geological Survey
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^ "UNESCO World Heritage official website listing".
^ Hakatere Conservation Park Archived 14 October 2008 at the Wayback
Machine., Department of Conservation website. Retrieved 21 January
^ "What are the populations served by DHBs? - FAQs about DHBs -
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Muslim University Students' Association website".
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^ Distance between
Dunedin is 14,811.44 Kilometers
according to http://www.geodatasource.com/distancecalculator.aspx
^ "GamesBids.com". GamesBids.com.
^ Greenhill, Marc (17 January 2011). "Winter Olympics bid
'ambitious'". The Press. Retrieved 12 November 2011.
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South Island (2010) excerpt and
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Adventures. Trafford Publishing.
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South Island Road Map
Regions of New Zealand
Bay of Plenty
* Governed by a unitary authority rather than a regional council