The British established the first South Island settlement at Bluff on the south coast in 1823. But it wasn’t until the gold rush of the 1860s that the population grew significantly. Today, despite being 33 per cent larger than the North Island, the southern landmass houses only 24 per cent of the country’s population. Visitors don’t come to the South Island for pulsating mega-cities and a pumping night life. Travelers come to Te Wai Pounamu, the Maori name for the region, for the natural attractions.
The South Island has a temperate climate. In summer the air temperature averages around 72 degrees, while in winter the mercury rises to 52 degrees. The South Island is a year round destination depending on your preferred outdoor activities. Summer is obviously the best season to trek through the incredible wilderness, while winter is heaven for skiers and snowboarders.
There are many festivals and events held on the South Island including The Christchurch Arts Festival, an International Jazz Festival in Queenstown and the Dunedin Fringe Festival.