If you're planning a trip to New Zealand, your choice of whether to visit the South or North Island depends to a large extent on what kind of person you are.
The South Island is much more sparsely populated and very rich in natural life. You'll be able to see dolphins, penguins, seals and a fantastic variety of other bird and sea life.
The Island has some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world, including mountains that drop dramatically down to lakes at places like Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound. The Fiordland National Park is listed by UNESCO as a key site.
So it's not surprising that several of New Zealand’s greatest walking routes are found on the South Island. The Milford track takes you through forests, lakes, mountains and waterfalls.
Don't run away with the idea that it's all peace and quiet however. Queenstown is known as the adventure capital of New Zealand, possibly the world. White-water rafting, river surfing, jet boating, canyon swinging and bungee jumping are just a few of the activities on offer.
So if you're an outdoors type who loves nature but has a slightly wild side, the South Island is definitely for you.
Not the birdwatching type? More of a people person? Then consider the North Island which has a much bigger population – three times as many people. New Zealand’s biggest cities, Auckland and Wellington, are both in the North Island.
Wellington is actually at the southernost end of the North Island. There's still plenty of wildlife surrounding the city but the city itself is very cosmopolitan – it actually claims to have more bars and cafes than New York. It’s also famous for good food, superb coffee and an atmosphere that is friendly and almost village-like.
Think about hiring a car and driving from Wellington in the South, to Auckland, in the north of the North Island. On the way you'll be able to visit Rotorua, a centre of Maori culture in an area full of hot springs, bubbling mud and other geothermal activity. At Poor Knights Islands there is top rate scuba diving and because the North Island has a slightly warmer climate, there are more beaches where you can swim.
So there you have it – one country, two Islands with very different characters. Which one you prefer will depend very much on what kind of character you are.