Southern New Zealand embraces some very dramatic coastlines, braided river valleys, golden-brown tussock hills and glaciated slopes of the Southern Alps.
The Catlins rugged south eastern coast harbours abundant marine wildlife. Across the windswept Foveaux Strait lies the dark brooding shape of Stewart Island. Deep in the interior of Otago-Southland, tawny rounded hills studded with starkly silhouetted rock tors, dominate the scene. Everywhere you look are wide-open spaces, the broad sweep of blue skies and a feeling of solitude and peace. A continental climate keeps the land dry all year round, hardened with frost in winter and baked in scorching heat in summer.
Kayaking opportunities abound, like Dunedins Taiaroa Head, an eco-tourism site with an albatross colony and the worlds rarest penguins. Also on Lake Whatatipu, where that idyllic winter resort, Queenstown, blends with the lake and mountains in perfect visual harmony. From the head of the lake jet boats whisk you up the Dart River where operators provide you with an inflatable kayak to drift gently downstream. Commercial operators based in Te Anau and Manapouri run sea kayaking tours on these two lakes and on the spectacular Milford, Doubtful and Dusky
Nowhere is the kiwi culture of outdoor innovation and challenge more evident than around Queenstown, The Adventure Capital of the World. There is all the whitewater river action anyone could possibly want.
The Shotover River is our most renowned adventure waterway, where whitewater warriors battle the incessant flow of Grade 3 – 5 rapids in kayaks, rafts and jet boats. Several Queenstown operators run wildly exciting rafting trips on the Shotover putting in from Skippers Road. The river becomes more confined and difficult as you proceed, culminating in boulder drops, the long Mother Rapid and the climactic shooting of the Oxenbridge Tunnel. What a blast!
The Kawarau River also has awesome commercial raft trips, which help to confirm Queenstown as the white-knuckle centre of the universe. The Grade 3 – 4 run includes notorious rapids like Smiths Falls, Twin Bridges, Do Little, Do Nothing and Dogleg. Other runs further downstream include the section below Roaring Meg Power Station, where river surfing options are available. If you want to surf rapids and ride whirlpools contact the surfing companies in Queenstown and Wanaka. A Wanaka company also offers Grade 2 rafting and sledging on the Upper Clutha River.
Discover this special corner of New Zealand where you can revitalise your spirit. But be aware that it has a magnetic attraction that will draw you back again and again.