South Island

South Island or Te Waipounamu [Maori,=the waters of greenstone] (1996 pop. 900,114), 58,093 sq mi (150,461 sq km), New Zealand. It is the larger but less populous of the two principal islands of the country and is also known as the Mainland. It is separated from North Island, the other principal island, by Cook Strait and from Stewart Island by Foveaux Strait.

The island includes the extensive Canterbury Plains, on the central E coast, and the Southern Alps, which extend almost the entire length of the island. The Clutha and Waitaki are the largest rivers. Much of the western half of the island is in national parks or other conservation lands, including New Zealand's two largest national parks, Fiordland, which includes a major portion of the southwest, and Kahurangi, which encompasses much of the northwest corner. The South Island's principal cities are Christchurch, Dunedin, and Invercargill.

The South Island is New Zealand's main source of native timber. Grain and fruit are grown and sheep are raised; the island's northeast includes some of New Zealand's top wine-producing regions. Some coal, gold, and oil is found on South Island. The island has several large hydroelectric projects.

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