Only a quarter of New Zealanders live in the South Island of New Zealand/Aotearoa - about one million people. The landforms in the South are more obvious and the mauri (spirit/essence) is quite different here, with deep glacial lakes, soaring, snow-clad mountains and extensive temperate rainforests.
Before the Māori arrived in the South Island, it was home to the Waitaha people who, it is believed, arrived hundreds of years before.
The South Island is known to Māori as Te Wai Pounamu, a reference to the fact that pounamu, or New Zealand jade (usually nephrite jade) has formed an intrinsic part of culture and trade for the tangata whenua (people of the land). Most of this is located in the rivers of the West Coast of the South Island and since the majority of Māori lived on the East Coast, trade routes crossing the mountain passes of the Southern Alps were established. Many of the most important sacred sites can be found along these trails.
There are only a few labyrinths on South Island. Sadly, labyrinths at Castle Hill and the unique contemporary labyrinth near Geraldine are no longer in existence. The devastating earthquakes in the Christchurch region since September 2010 meant the loss of the use of the canvas labyrinth in St. Lukes in the City and a reduction in activity at Labyrinth Celeste in West Melton. The St.Lukes' story is one of hope and renewal as a new permanent outdoor labyrinth has been built using masonry recovered from the demolished building.
There is only one indoor labyrinth known in New Zealand and that is the Classical labyrinth in the Nelson Cathedral at the top of South Island. There is a Roman-style labyrinth in the grass at Tothill's Mazes outside Christchurch.
Labyrinth Celeste is the only medieval "Chartres-style" labyrinth on South Island although it is much bigger than the one in the Chartres Cathedral.