New Zealand's 'Other' Island Is A Dazzling Slice Of Paradise

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If you travel mostly in the Northern Hemisphere, then you may have always imagined New Zealand as one singular island. Yet savvy travelers know the country actually consists of two main islands: the North and the South.

New Zealand's North Island is a hub for Maori culture, a hotspot for scuba divers and home to the cosmopolitan cities of Auckland and Wellington. But as it turns out, New Zealand's sensationally beautiful and significantly less populous South Island is a sprawling, rugged paradise many tourists have shockingly failed to appreciate.

<p>Sunset on the island's west coast.</p>

Sunset on the island's west coast.

<p>Nugget Point, where you'll traverse some rocky headlands.</p>

Nugget Point, where you'll traverse some rocky headlands.

<p>Glenorchy, a remote lakeside settlement.</p>

Glenorchy, a remote lakeside settlement.

Polynesian tribes were the first to inhabit the South Island, long before Dutch explorer Abel Tasman rediscovered the land in 1642 and they were subsequently called Maori. Currently, the South Island's population is about one-third of the North's, but what it lacks in human capital, it more than makes up in natural beauty: The South Island is home to nine national parks (one named for Tasman), and offers encounters with dolphins, penguins, whales and birds. Small fishing villages dot the coast, and all around you'll find stunning peaks, oceans, volcanoes, glaciers, fjords and snow-dusted Southern Alps.

"There is more to discover [on the South Island] than probably any place on Earth," photographer Antony Harrison, whose images are shown here, told The Huffington Post.

<p>Hooker Lake, a glacial lake popular with hikers.</p>

Hooker Lake, a glacial lake popular with hikers.

<p>Church of the Good Shepherd, on Lake Tekapo.</p>

Church of the Good Shepherd, on Lake Tekapo.

<p>Mount Cook,&nbsp;New Zealand's highest mountain.</p>

Mount Cook, New Zealand's highest mountain.

<p>Punakaiki Beach, known for spectacular ocean blowholes.</p>

Punakaiki Beach, known for spectacular ocean blowholes.

Adventuring is huge on the South Island: Glacier climbing, bungee jumping, hot air ballooning and skiing are popular with daring travelers. You'll find some of New Zealand's best "walks," or scenic hiking trails, in the forests, mountains and riverbanks.

It takes about three and a half hours to get to the South Island via ferries from the North Island that operate year-round. Alternatively, you can take a direct flight from the North Island or from nearby Australia. Happy travels!

<p>The view from Routeburn Tracka&nbsp;popular alpine trail.</p>

The view from Routeburn Tracka popular alpine trail.

<p>A blue-water pier on&nbsp;Lake Wakatipu.</p>

A blue-water pier on Lake Wakatipu.

<p>Sunset at Mount Cook.</p>

Sunset at Mount Cook.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this post included a quote about East Cape, a place we stated was on South Island. In fact, East Cape is located on North Island. Language has been amended to avoid the implication that New Zealand and Australia are not separate countries.

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