South Canterbury - from outer space

NASA Photo

Southern Alps, South Island, New Zealand.  September 1996. The Southern Alps parallel the western coast of South Island. The southwest-northeast trending range has 17 peaks higher than 9842 feet (3000 meters) including Mount Cook at 12316 feet (3754 meters), the tallest peak in NZ. There are more than 3100 active glaciers in the Southern Alps. West of the Southern Alps there is little or no coastal plain. Along the west coast, steep-sided valleys and fiords are the prevailing landscape. East of the Alps are extensive foothills and glaciated valleys, many occupied by deep freshwater lakes.  There are also large areas that are covered with a glacial fluvial outwash of sand and gravel, and a number of intricately braided rivers. Along the east coast near the top right of the image is the Canterbury Plain, the largest area of fertile flat land in New Zealand. The southeastern part of the island near the lower center of the image is an irregular dissected section of land that consists of small plains and basins surrounded by hills. At the lower center of the image, Stewart Island is discernible. 

The Rangitata River can be seen entering the Pacific Ocean top right. Natural lakes north to south in South Canterbury are Tekapo, and the rock flour Pukaki then Ohau with the man made lakes Benmore and Aviemore on the Waitaki River heading out to the ocean.  Further south in Otago are lakes Hawea, Wanaka and Wakatipu  (3 miles by 48 miles long), and Fiordland's Lake Te Ana and Manapouri. 
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Note the colour of the lakes.

1993 Images


Scott Kelly's photo of the South Island, sunrise Christmas Day 2015.

South Canterbury NZGenWeb