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The Southern Alps start in the northern end of the South Island around Kaikoura and stretch through the provinces of Canterbury, inland Otago, Westland, and Southland. These are serious mountains, with jagged 9,000-feet-plus peaks. The Mt. Cook area is the center of Kiwi mountaineering. These majestic formations take center stage, and amazing landscape unfurls at their feet—green rivers braided with white stone banks, acres of lupines, and lakes hued with indescribable blues. From Lake Tekapo, you finally come to "rest" at the adventure-friendly cities of Queenstown and Wanaka, historic Arrowtown, and the truly restful aura of the Otago vineyards. To the west, magnificent Milford Sound dominates Fiordland.
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