It All Began in a Garden The Flora of New Zealand's South Island

After a most enjoyable three weeks touring about the North Island of New Zealand we ferried across to the South Island to continue our adventure. I had researched birds of New Zealand but I had not done so for the plant life that would encounter. It was a wonderful experience enjoying such a variety of new, unusual as well as some very familiar flora.

The north end of the South Island is renowned for it's wines. Miles and miles of vineyards greet travelers as they make their way south west along the coast to Fiordland or southeast heading towards Christchurch. We opted to drive west along the coast.

It was beginning to feel like Fall.

First stop - the lake country of Wanaka which included visits to Queenstown and tours around to countryside.

A lavender farm was buzzing with activity.

while the trees donned their fall colours

but not everything was ready to change seasons.

The Queenstown Gardens reflected the British heritage which was very evident in New Zealand but it also showcased native plant life.

We continued south with a visit to Fiordland. Visitors to the area inevitably look to cruise either Milford or Doubtful Sound. We met a young lady at a tourist information in Wanaka who gave us some very good suggestions, so when she recommended Doubtful Sound we took her word and booked a tour. Are we glad we did!

There's not a lot of good plant photographing opportunities aboard a boat.

Off the south end of the South Island is Stewart Island - the most southerly part of New Zealand. The island is only accessible by small plane or ferry (walk-on only). We choose to ferry across the Fovreaux Strait to Oban in the hope to see a Kiwi in the wild. This proved to be the greatest adventure of our entire six weeks in New Zealand.

As we sat on our deck with a view of the lush rainforest this Kaka arrived for his share of our lunch

Once on Stewart Island we planned our further trek to Ulva Island - this time only accessible by ferry. My idea of a ferry is what you would take to Vancouver Island, or indeed what got us to Stewart Island, this ferry was more what I would call a small water taxi.

The Government of New Zealand established Ulva Island as a preserve for endemic flora and fauna. It is a constant battle to remove rats and wind blown seeds that take root from the island and as a result it is a paradise for the birds that make their home there.

Not flowers!

After our hair-raising return from Stewart to the mainland (I almost kissed the ground when we disembarked) we got back on the road and headed to Dunedin, we even had a bit of snow on our drive. During our stay in there we got to visit the Dunedin Botanical Gardens - I am including those images as a separate garden walk.

Finally Christchurch, from which we explored the city and surrounding area, including the lovely town of Akaroa.

It was very late in the season by the time we visited Akaroa which was our final destination before boarding a plane to take us back to Auckland for our flight home. We had time for one more trip on the North Island, out to Cathedral Cove and the Firth of Thames.

One last look at the elegant toi grass
Just coming into bloom was the Christmas tree plant - no need to decorate this tree.
Created By
Cathy Bennington


CJ Bennington Fine Art Photography