The region's main town, Queenstown, is known as the adventure capital of New Zealand. Visitors can take part in many exciting activities, all close to each other. There is bungy jumping, jet boating, white-water rafting, horse riding, Fly by Wire, mountain biking, rock climbing, water skiing, ice skating and frisbee golf.
Central Otago is home to stone fruit such as apricots and peaches. Wine growing in Central Otago is a fledgling industry and is already recognised for producing some of the world's best pinot noir. This part of New Zealand has some of the finest water and winter sport facilities in the country.
Gold was the basis for the original growth of Central Otago with the rush to Arrowtown and Alexandra, Bannockburn, Clyde, Cromwell, Bendigo, Gabriel's Gully, Naseby, Queenstown and St Bathans. Many locations are now only names and ruins. The colourful history of these times is preserved in its many local museums. The gold rushes brought people from all over the world, including many Chinese settlers.
Mount Aspiring National Park and its glaciers feed the rivers that flow into the glacier Lakes Hawea, Wakatipu and Wanaka.
Maori, in their search for the very highly valued pounamu (greenstone), created a lot of tracks through this region, which are now walkways or hiking tracks. The Fiordland National Park takes in the whole southwest corner of New Zealand. It contains Lakes Te Anau and Manapouri as well as Milford Sound. Visitors can appreciate the National Park from aircraft, boats, the spectacular Milford Road, or the several fine walking tracks, which include the Routeburn and Milford Tracks.
Seals, penguins and dolphins can often be seen in Milford Sound. The region's thick forest has hardly been touched by humans and exploitation of the region has been mainly confined to the coast, with fishing, and in the past, sealing.
Southern Lakes District has three of New Zealand's Great Walks - the Routeburn, Milford and Kepler Tracks. There are also tracks within Mount Aspiring and Fiordland National Parks.
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