When I tell people I’m from New Zealand, the first question they always ask is ‘what’s better, the North or South Island?’ Of course, being from the mainland (South Island), I’m going to say the South Island.

And then they ask why.

So I try to put into words all that the South Island has to offer – wide open spaces, the scenery, the adrenalin-pumping adventures, the food, the wine, and great people.

Now, thanks to the new Lonely Planet New Zealand’s South Island Guidebook, all the words I need to describe this awesome place can be found in a single, compact guidebook.

Compiled in the usual Lonely Planet format, the guidebook starts by profiling New Zealand’s history, culture, indigenous people, and environment. Written by a diverse group of contributing authors, including American Tony Horwitz who writes about Captain James Cook, this section provides a useful introduction to New Zealand.

The rest of the book, written by three seasoned LP writers, is location specific and focuses on all the South Island has to offer. Well, almost. For some reason, known only to Lonely Planet, the location-specific section starts in Wellington which seems a little bizarre. If this guidebook is all about New Zealand’s South Island, why in the world does its opening chapters focus in great detail on the capital city of Wellington, which, as far as I know, is still in the North Island.

Whatever the reason, it means except for a dozen pages discussing ‘Active South Island’ in the profile section, readers will be a third of the way through the book before they even reach the South Island. But it’s worth the wait (or read) because the rest of the book is jam-packed full of South Island goodness, ranging from where to find the cheapest crayfish in Kaikoura to how to bike your way around the wineries of Marlborough, from bone carving in Hokitika to glacier climbing the Franz Joseph and anything and everything in between.

Cities and towns around the South Island are highlighted with suggested itineraries, walking tours, activities, as well as information on shopping, eating, drinking, and sleeping. But Lonely Planet knows that most visitors to New Zealand don’t come all this way just to spend time in the cities. They want to experience the great outdoors, something that the South Island has in abundance. And so this guidebook offers plenty of advice and information on the where, how, and when of having a totally unique Kiwi experience.

Anyone considering a trip to New Zealand should pick up a copy of this new Lonely Planet New Zealand’s South Island guidebook. It will lead you in the right direction. It’s definitely got me wanting to pack my bags and hit the road.

Lonely Planet New Zealand’s South Island was provided free for review.
Image courtesy of lonelyplanet.com.

Your thoughts on "Book Review: Lonely Planet New Zealand’s South Island"

  • I noticed the north island bias in the LP NZ guidebook at least in the sequencing of the content (not that it doesn't make sense...). I spent 7 days in the south island and 4 in the north and find the south island a little more interesting though, I have to admit, the fact that it rained most of the time I was in the north island and it barely did while I was in the south island may be influencing my bias :)

    on June 28, 2009 at 10:34 pm Reply
  • Nice to meet you for a coffee today, Raul. Glad you made such good use of said guidebooks.

    on June 29, 2009 at 10:43 pm Reply

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