Fertile Plains of New Zealand’s South Island
This FAPAR image shows much of the South Island of New Zealand. In such images, dark red areas indicate a high degree of photosynthetic activity and therefore high vegetation productivity. Green areas indicate good activity, while yellow zones have low activity.
Here, as one might expect, the high mountains of the Southern Alps show lower productivity. The most intense photosynthetic activity can be seen towards the southern tip of the island, in a region known as the Southland Plains.
The Southern Plains is a general name given to several areas of low-lying land in the South Island, separated by the rise of the Hokonui Hills in the north. It forms a sizeable area of the Southland Region and includes some of New Zealand’s most fertile farmland.
The Plains extend from the Waiau River in the west to the Mataura River which forms the border with Otago to the east. It can be divided into three broad areas: the Southland plain proper, the Waimea Plains and the lower Waiau Plain to the west near the Waiau River.
At their southern extreme the Waimea Plains become the Awarua Plain, a large area of marshy land which stretches from near Bluff to the foot of the Catlins in the far east. Between them, the lowlands around the Awarua Plain and Mataura River cover a further 2000 km².