The decision to holiday in New Zealand’s South Island is easy – it boasts the best snow, great food and wine and every conceivable New Zealand experience from remote trekking to whale watching. The hard part is deciding where to start.
Fox & Franz Josef Glaciers (Southern Alps)
New Zealand is one of the rare places you can see a glacier up close and The Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers are two of the most magical glaciers in the world. Take a guided walk to explore spectacular ice caves and arches. Or experience a thrilling helicopter flight over this stunning region and see the amazing deep blue colour of the ice-flow from above.
Milford Sound (Fiordland)
As one of the most scenic destinations in New Zealand, Milford Sound must be seen to be believed. From towering cliffs and mountain peaks that touch the sky to the dark waters below, you will be in awe of this stunning region. For a unique view of this spectacular landscape, see if from above during a scenic flight, or try kayaking or hiking the tracks.
Lake Wakatipu (Queenstown)
Shaped like a lightning bolt, Lake Wakatipu is the third largest lake in New Zealand. Appreciate the magnificent alpine scenery of the surrounding Remarkables mountain range and Queenstown with a cruise across the lake on a restored steamship. Or hire a bike and leisurely cycle The Lake Wakatipu Ride Track.
Hot Springs (Hanmer & Tekapo Springs)
Created by a huge Alpine Fault in the Southern Alps, Hanmer Springs is an all-seasons hot spring where you’ll find thermal mineral, sulphur and freshwater pools, as well as a large children’s activity area with water slides. Beauty and massage treatments put the finishing touches on your relaxation. Further south you’ll find Tekapo Springs, located on Lake Tekapo.
Nelson & Marlborough
The diverse Nelson and Marlborough regions are some of the sunniest regions in New Zealand. They are home to picturesque wineries, soaring mountains and idyllic beaches. Discover the inspiring art culture of Nelson or sample Sauvignon Blanc in the country’s largest wine growing region of Marlborough. Three national parks offer golden sandy beaches, serene glacial lakes and fascinating limestone formations.
See & do:
- View one of Australasia’s largest private collection of classic cars at Nelson’s Classic Cars gallery
- Explore Wharariki Beach in Nelson on horseback
- The sheltered bays of Abel Tasman National Park are perfect for a kayaking adventure
- Walk or cycle the Queen Charlotte Track discovering the bays of Marlbough Sounds along the way
Canterbury, Christchurch & Mount Cook
Canterbury is a region of contrasts. Its home to rugged alps and ranges, flat green plains, silvery beaches and fresh blue lakes.
The largely English influenced Christchurch features traditional and contemporary architecture, lush gardens and the gently winding Avon River. Further afield, explore the various walks around New Zealand’s tallest mountain, Mount Cook.
See & do:
- Be on the lookout for Sperm, Humpback and Pilot whales in Kaikoura
- Ride through Mount Cook National Park alongside glacial-fed lakes
- Hop aboard the TranzAlpine Express and travel from Christchurch to Greymouth – one of the most stunning train journeys in the world
- See the city of Christchurch from a different perspective aboard a punt boat on the Avon River
West Coast & Glacier Region
Weave your way along the rugged coastline to discover old gold and jade towns and the amazing bright blue ice formations of the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers. Unwind in the tranquil hot pools at Franz Josef Village or try one of the many adventures activities on other such as kayaking, rafting and sky diving.
See & do:
- See the blowholes at Punakaiki
- Join a tour through the underground cave systems, lit by glow worms at Charleston
- Shop for pounamu (jade) at Westland Greenstone in Hokitika
Relax in the foothills of the Southern Alps at Wanaka, home to boutique wineries and artisan produce.
Lake Wanaka and nearby Lake Hawea feature sparkling clear water and glorious alpine vistas. Wanaka is also the gateway to Mount Aspiring National Park, with towering peaks, spectacular glaciers, thundering waterfalls, rivers and valleys.
See & do:
- Take in breath-taking views over Lake Wanaka on the 16 kilometre Roys Peak Track
- Conquer one of the highest waterfall cable climb in the world at Wildwire WanakaChallenge your perceptions of reality at Wanaka’s Puzzling World
Queenstown & Surrounds
It’s famous for skiing, but there’s so much more to Queenstown! The opportunity for adventure is around every corner – from sky diving, bungy jumping and jet boating to hiking, bike riding and rock climbing. Would renowned restaurants and spas beckon. Further afield is the historic gold rush village of Arrowtown and the tranquil lakeside setting of Cromwell.
See & do:
- See film locations used in The Lord of the Rings movie in Glenorchy, outside of Queenstown.
- Take in spectacular scenery on the Queenstown Cycle Trail
- Home to world’s first bungy jump, dive head first off the Kawarau Bridge
- Feel the thrill as you take the driving seat on a gravity-fuelled Skyline Luge
The gateway to Fiordland National Park, Te Anau is the ideal base for exploring world famous Milford Sound. See the towering Mitre Peak and awe-inspiring scenery.
Lake Te Anau is the second largest lake on the South Island and Te Anau is nestled on its banks in front of the stunning Mount Luxmore and Murchison Mountains. Popular activities include scenic flights, boating, fishing, kayaking, caving, hiking and bird watching.
See & do:
- Cruise across Lake Te Anau to the Te Anau Glow Worm Caves
- Explore the Milford, Routeburn or Kepler walking tracks
Dunedin is one of the southern hemisphere’s best preserved Edwardian and Victoria cities. Its full of gothic style architecture and a castle! The region lays claim to some of the best beaches and coastlines in New Zealand, all with breathtaking views of the Southern Ocean. Otago Peninsula, on the city’s doorstep is home to an abundance of unique wildlife including the Royal Albatross, seals, penguins and cormorants.
See & do:
- See vibrant, whimsical works of art painted on the side of many buildings
- Visit the magnificent Royal Albatross on Otago Peninsula
- Discovery New Zealand’s unique history at the Otago Museum
- For great surfing head to St Clair beach or Murdering Bay
- Feel like a royal at New Zealand’s only castle, Larnach Castle