The South Island


New Zealand is a breathtaking and incredibly beautiful country with its majestic snow-capped mountains, pristine lakes, cool glaciers and stunning fiords providing the spectacular scenery. I had been dreaming of visit this gorgeous country for a lifetime, and I was ecstatic last year that a journey to this destination would be finally realized.New Zealand is an archipelago of more than 700 islands in the southwestern portion of the Pacific Ocean. There are two main islands, the North Island and the South Island.  The former is an island of mountain ranges, volcanic plateaus, and thermal areas. The latter has the majestic Southern Alps, glacial lakes, and the picturesque fiords. New Zealand is a land of diverse and sensational landscapes. You don’t have to travel far to enjoy con trasting experiences. The Southern Alps is just hours away from a virgin rain forest, and the peaceful beach can only be minutes from a busy urban city. Their tourism industry focuses on these natural wonders of mountains, lakes, and fiords. Every day is a different journey here. New Zealand was first discovered by the Dutch and was named after the Dutch province of Zealand. Later, it became a British colony in 1840. Today, New Zealand is a constitutional monarchy (Queen Elizabeth II is still the titular head) with a parliamentary democracy.

THE SPOTLIGHT ON NEW ZEALAND BY THE LORD OF THE RINGS MOVIES It is not surprising that New Zealand was chosen as the shooting location for the blockbuster film trilogies of “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” that captivated the movie audiences worldwide. New Zealand native and director Peter Jackson chose to highlight the stunning landscape of this country as the perfect fantasy backdrop of the epic Middle Earth journey as envisioned by J.R.R. Tolkien. New Zealand would forever be associated with these successful films. Any time between September to May are the most popular months for travellers to New Zealand, though the ski season brings visitors during the winter months (June to August). One word of advice for tourists: it can be very expensive to tour this country. A journey to New Zealand has been on my bucket list ever since I learned geography at age six. It was the allure of the majestic mountains and pristine lakes that captivated me. The recent spotlight on New Zealand by Hollywood further motivated me to make this childhood dream a reality.  Auckland was our gateway to this exciting adventure. We toured the North Island, through a friend’s Fiat 500, which for your information is under the Fiat 500 lease, first for five days and especially enjoyed the Hobbiton Movie Set in Matamata. This was built as the Shire where hobbits play and live in hobbit holes as featured in “The Lord of the Rings’ movies – truly a great cinematic adventure.


From Auckland, we took a short flight to Christchurch. It is South Island’s biggest city and is called the very “English Garden City” due to its fine old English tradition and pleasantly cultivated gardens. The city is still recovering from the destruction of the devastating earthquakes it suffered in 2011. As too much of the city center is still in the rubble, we toured the rose beds and English lawns of the Botanic Gardens. We then left Christchurch in the afternoon to pass through the Canterbury Plains whose flat coastal plains nourished by snow-fed rivers contrast with the surrounding lovely mountains. We rode in our coach bus for four hours until we reach Tekapo by the early evening. Just watching the spectacular scenery through the window was an awesome experience. Never had I seen such stunning landscape from my seat and just enjoyed the view. The same excitement reminded me of the Glacier Express that I took with my brother Robert in Switzerland. As a matter of fact, several tourists compare south Canterbury with Switzerland and the Alps. The road trip through the Canterbury Plains marks the beginning of where the breathtaking natural landscape of New Zealand mirrors the journey to the Middle Earth as described by Tolkien. In the South Island, you will feast your eyes on a variety of nature’s best creations from the towering snow-capped mountains of the Southern Alps, huge glaciers, pristine lakes of Canterbury and Otago regions, the lofty Remarkable Mountains surrounding Queenstown, verdant rainforests, and the picturesque fiordlands of Milford Sound.

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