Welcome to the stunning South Island of New Zealand, a land of rugged landscapes, breathtaking scenery, and exciting adventures. Known for its majestic mountains, crystal-clear lakes, and diverse wildlife, the South Island offers an unparalleled experience for nature enthusiasts, adventure seekers, and culture lovers alike. From the dramatic fjords of Milford Sound to the adrenaline-pumping activities in Queenstown, this article will guide you through the top 20 best things to do in the South Island.
With its unspoiled wilderness and pristine natural beauty, the South Island provides the perfect playground for outdoor activities. Whether you’re into hiking, skiing, bungee jumping, or wildlife spotting, there’s something for everyone here. Immerse yourself in the captivating landscapes, immerse yourself in the Maori culture, and embark on a journey that will leave you with memories to last a lifetime.
From the moment you arrive, the South Island will enchant you with its stunning vistas and warm hospitality. You’ll be greeted by friendly locals who are proud to share their rich heritage and stunning surroundings. The South Island is also home to some of the most breathtaking road trips in the world, with winding coastal highways and scenic mountain passes at every turn.
Prepare to be amazed as we delve into the top 20 best things to do in the South Island. Whether you’re a nature lover, an adventure enthusiast, or simply seeking a peaceful escape, this diverse region has something to offer everyone. So, grab your camera, pack your hiking boots, and get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey through the majestic South Island of New Zealand.
Nestled within the Fiordland National Park, Milford Sound is one of the most popular tourist destinations in New Zealand. Known for its towering granite peaks, cascading waterfalls, and pristine waters, it is often referred to as the “Eighth Wonder of the World.”
A trip to Milford Sound offers a chance to immerse yourself in the beauty of nature. Take a boat cruise along the fjord and marvel at the sheer size and grandeur of the landscape. The waterfalls, such as the iconic Stirling Falls and the majestic Mitre Peak rising from the ocean, create a breathtaking spectacle. Keep an eye out for dolphins, seals, and even penguins that call this place their home.
For the more adventurous, kayak tours are available, allowing you to paddle through the calm waters and get up close to the sheer cliffs and wildlife. Alternatively, take a scenic flight over Milford Sound for a bird’s-eye view of this incredible landscape.
One of the highlights of visiting Milford Sound is the opportunity to experience its unique marine ecosystem. Dive into the crystal-clear waters and witness the vibrant underwater world filled with colorful corals, rare species of fish, and even the occasional playful seal. Snorkeling and diving tours are available for those seeking to explore this underwater paradise.
Don’t forget to take a stroll along the one-kilometer long Milford Sound Nature Walk, which provides a closer look at the native flora and fauna of the region. From towering ancient trees to unique bird species, this short walk offers a chance to appreciate the natural wonders of Milford Sound up-close.
Whether you choose to visit Milford Sound for a day trip or stay overnight, you’ll be rewarded with an unforgettable experience. The changing weather and light conditions throughout the day create a magical atmosphere, making each visit to Milford Sound a unique and awe-inspiring journey through nature’s creation.
Remember to bring warm clothing and a raincoat, as the weather in Milford Sound can be unpredictable. And don’t forget your camera to capture the beauty of this iconic destination.
Known as the “Adventure Capital of the World,” Queenstown is a bustling town nestled on the shores of Lake Wakatipu. Surrounded by majestic mountains, this vibrant destination offers a wide range of activities and attractions for outdoor enthusiasts and adrenaline junkies.
For those seeking an adrenaline rush, Queenstown has it all. Bungee jumping, skydiving, jet boating, and white-water rafting are just a few of the thrilling activities available. Feel the rush of freefall as you bungee jump from the iconic Kawarau Bridge, the world’s first commercial bungee spot.
If you prefer a more leisurely pace, take a leisurely stroll along the picturesque waterfront or explore the charming streets filled with boutique shops, art galleries, and delicious eateries. Enjoy a relaxing cruise on Lake Wakatipu and soak in the breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains.
For the nature lovers, Queenstown is a gateway to the stunning landscapes of the Southern Alps. Take a scenic gondola ride to the top of Bob’s Peak and enjoy panoramic views of the town and the Remarkables mountain range. From there, you can also embark on a thrilling luge ride or try your hand at mountain biking on the challenging trails.
In winter, Queenstown transforms into a winter wonderland, attracting skiers and snowboarders from around the world. The nearby ski resorts, including Coronet Peak and The Remarkables, offer excellent slopes and facilities for all levels of skiing and snowboarding.
For those seeking a taste of luxury, indulge in world-class wineries and restaurants that dot the region. Central Otago, the world’s southernmost wine region, is renowned for its exquisite Pinot Noir. Take a wine tour and sample the exceptional vintages while enjoying the scenic beauty of the vineyards.
Queenstown is also a base for exploring the picturesque surrounding areas. Take a day trip to the historic gold-mining town of Arrowtown, known for its well-preserved heritage buildings and charming streets. Or, venture further afield to Glenorchy, a small village that serves as the starting point for many hiking trails and film locations.
No matter what time of year you visit, Queenstown has something for everyone. Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or simply a chance to immerse yourself in the stunning natural beauty, Queenstown is sure to leave you with unforgettable memories of your South Island experience.
Nestled within Westland Tai Poutini National Park, Fox Glacier is a stunning natural wonder on the West Coast of the South Island. This awe-inspiring glacier is a must-visit destination for those seeking to witness the raw power and beauty of nature.
One of the unique features of Fox Glacier is its accessibility. Unlike many glaciers around the world, Fox Glacier is easily accessible for visitors to explore. Join a guided glacier hike or take a heli-hiking tour to experience walking on the icy surface of this ancient glacier. Marvel at the intricate ice formations, deep crevasses, and stunning blue ice caves, all while surrounded by the towering peaks of the Southern Alps.
If the adrenaline rush of walking on a glacier isn’t your thing, you can still enjoy the breathtaking views of Fox Glacier from various vantage points. Take a scenic helicopter flight for a bird’s-eye perspective of the glacier and its surrounding landscapes. Capture the incredible scenery from above and witness the vastness of this icy wonder.
For those who prefer to keep their feet on the ground, there are several short walks and viewpoints that offer spectacular views of Fox Glacier. The Fox Glacier Viewpoint is a popular spot that provides an excellent panoramic view of the glacier and its terminal face. The reflective waters of Lake Matheson, known as the “Mirror Lake,” offer a perfect reflection of Mount Cook and Mount Tasman on a clear day.
It’s important to note that Fox Glacier is a constantly changing environment, and safety is paramount. It is highly recommended to join a guided tour or hire a local experienced guide who can navigate the ever-changing terrain and ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.
Adjacent to Fox Glacier is the charming village of Franz Josef, providing a range of accommodation options, restaurants, and various activities to enhance your visit to the area. Soak in the nearby hot pools, explore the surrounding rainforest on a guided walk, or simply relax and absorb the tranquility of this stunning region.
Whether you choose to explore on foot, from the air, or a combination of both, Fox Glacier promises a truly unforgettable and awe-inspiring experience. Witnessing the power and beauty of this ancient glacier up close is a testament to the remarkable wonders that New Zealand has to offer.
Abel Tasman National Park
Located on the northern coast of the South Island, Abel Tasman National Park is a haven for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. With its golden sandy beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and lush native forests, it is no wonder this park is considered one of New Zealand’s most beautiful destinations.
One of the best ways to experience the beauty of Abel Tasman National Park is by embarking on a day hike or multi-day Great Walk along the Abel Tasman Coast Track. This 60-kilometer track spans the length of the park, offering stunning coastal and inland views along the way. Soak up the sunshine as you stroll through picturesque forests, walk along pristine beaches, and witness the playful antics of seals and dolphins in the sparkling waters.
If hiking isn’t your preference, there are plenty of other activities to keep you entertained in the park. Take a kayak tour and explore the sheltered coves, hidden inlets, and tranquil lagoons that dot the coastline. Paddle at your own pace, reveling in the serenity and beauty of this coastal paradise.
For a unique experience, hop on a water taxi and discover the remote and secluded beaches of the park. Enjoy the flexibility to explore different sections of the coastline, hopping on and off as you please. With golden sandy beaches surrounded by dense forest, you’ll feel like you’ve stumbled upon your own private slice of paradise.
Abel Tasman National Park is also a sanctuary for diverse wildlife. Keep an eye out for New Zealand fur seals basking on the rocks or swimming in the clear waters. If you’re lucky, you may even spot little blue penguins darting in and out of the waves or the rare native bird, the elusive tuatara, basking in the sun.
For those seeking a retreat, there are plenty of camping and accommodation options nestled within the park. Fall asleep to the soothing sound of waves crashing on the shore and wake up to the chorus of native birds in the morning. This allows you to fully embrace the tranquility and natural beauty of Abel Tasman National Park.
Whether you choose to explore on foot, by kayak, or on a scenic boat ride, Abel Tasman National Park offers a unique and unforgettable experience. Immerse yourself in the idyllic landscapes, connect with nature, and create memories that will last a lifetime in this pristine coastal gem.
Mount Cook National Park
Home to New Zealand’s highest peak, Aoraki/Mount Cook, Mount Cook National Park is a true alpine paradise. Located in the heart of the Southern Alps, this park is renowned for its rugged beauty, majestic glaciers, and breathtaking mountain landscapes.
A visit to Mount Cook National Park offers a chance to witness the awe-inspiring beauty of Aoraki/Mount Cook. Standing at 3,724 meters, it dominates the skyline and provides a captivating backdrop for outdoor adventures. Embark on a guided hike along the Hooker Valley Track, a scenic trail that winds its way through alpine meadows, over swing bridges, and offers stunning views of the Hooker Glacier and Mount Cook.
For those seeking a more challenging adventure, mountaineering is a popular activity in the park. With its steep peaks and glaciers, there are opportunities for climbers of all levels to test their skills and reach new heights. Experienced climbers can tackle the ascent of Aoraki/Mount Cook itself, a feat that requires technical expertise and proper equipment.
No visit to Mount Cook National Park is complete without exploring the Tasman Glacier, one of the largest glaciers in New Zealand. Join a guided glacier tour and marvel at the vast expanse of ice as you navigate through crevasses, ice caves, and frozen icefalls. Witness the ever-changing landscape shaped by the forces of nature.
The park is also a stargazing hotspot, thanks to its remote location and clear skies. As an International Dark Sky Reserve, it offers some of the best opportunities for stargazing in the southern hemisphere. Join a guided stargazing tour or simply lay back and admire the millions of stars twinkling above.
For a unique experience, take a scenic flight over the park and enjoy aerial views of the snow-capped mountains, turquoise glacial lakes, and dramatic valleys. Capture the beauty of this alpine wonderland from a different perspective and create memories that will last a lifetime.
Accommodation options in the park range from luxury lodges to cozy mountain huts, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the tranquility and beauty of the surroundings. Wake up to the crisp mountain air and the sight of snow-capped peaks, and savor the serenity of this remote wilderness.
Whether you’re an avid mountaineer, a nature lover, or simply looking for a peaceful retreat, Mount Cook National Park offers an array of activities and experiences to suit every visitor. Prepare to be captivated by the grandeur of the mountains, the magic of the glaciers, and the serenity of this alpine paradise.
Situated on the shores of Lake Wanaka, the charming town of Wanaka is an idyllic destination that showcases the natural beauty of the South Island. Surrounded by majestic mountains and pristine wilderness, Wanaka offers a perfect blend of outdoor adventures, scenic beauty, and a relaxed alpine atmosphere.
One of the main attractions in Wanaka is the picturesque Lake Wanaka itself. The crystal-clear waters are perfect for swimming, kayaking, or stand-up paddleboarding. Take a leisurely stroll along the lakeside or simply relax on the shores, soaking up the breathtaking views of the surrounding mountain peaks.
The town is a gateway to numerous hiking and biking trails that cater to all levels of fitness and experience. The most popular walk is the Roy’s Peak Track, offering panoramic views of Lake Wanaka and the alpine landscape. For a shorter hike, Diamond Lake and Rocky Mountain trails provide stunning vistas and are suitable for families and beginners.
In winter, Wanaka transforms into a winter wonderland, attracting visitors from around the world. Treble Cone and Cardrona Alpine Resort offer world-class ski slopes for both beginners and advanced skiers and snowboarders. Enjoy the thrill of carving through fresh powder snow while soaking in the breathtaking mountain scenery.
If you’re seeking an adrenaline rush, Wanaka has plenty to offer. Experience skydiving or take a thrilling paragliding flight to enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the stunning landscapes below. For a unique adventure, try canyoning or take a jet boat ride on the Matukituki River, where you’ll navigate through narrow canyons and experience exhilarating spins.
In addition to outdoor activities, Wanaka boasts a vibrant arts and culture scene. Explore the town’s art galleries and studios, showcasing the works of local artists. Attend a performance at the quirky and charming Cinema Paradiso, complete with comfy armchairs and an onsite café serving homemade treats.
Wanaka is also known for its excellent food and wine scene. Indulge in a range of culinary experiences, from fine dining restaurants to casual cafes that showcase the region’s fresh produce. Sample renowned local wines at the nearby wineries or visit the vibrant weekly farmer’s market to taste delicious local offerings.
With its stunning natural landscapes, countless recreational activities, and laid-back atmosphere, Wanaka is the perfect destination for those seeking a mix of adventure and relaxation. Immerse yourself in the beauty of this lakeside paradise and create lasting memories in the heart of the South Island.
Situated along the picturesque eastern coastline of the South Island, Kaikoura is a coastal town renowned for its marine life, breathtaking scenery, and unique wildlife encounters. Surrounded by majestic mountains that meet the deep-blue waters of the Pacific Ocean, Kaikoura offers a truly unforgettable experience.
One of the main attractions in Kaikoura is the opportunity to witness the incredible marine life that thrives in its waters. Embark on a whale-watching tour and be amazed as you spot the majestic sperm whales, which call Kaikoura their home. It’s not uncommon to see these giant creatures breach and dive, providing a once-in-a-lifetime sight.
For those seeking an up-close encounter, swimming with dolphins is a popular activity in Kaikoura. Dive into the ocean and swim alongside playful pods of dusky dolphins as they gracefully glide through the water. The experience of swimming with these intelligent creatures is truly exhilarating.
If you prefer to stay on dry land, take a walk along the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway. This scenic trail offers stunning views of the coastline and the opportunity to spot a variety of seabirds, including albatross, petrels, and shearwaters. Keep your eyes peeled for New Zealand fur seals sunbathing on the rocks.
Kaikoura is also famous for its delectable seafood. Indulge in fresh crayfish, a local delicacy, at one of the many seafood restaurants in town. The combination of the ocean’s bounty and exceptional culinary skills results in a culinary experience like no other.
In addition to its marine wonders, Kaikoura is surrounded by breathtaking landscapes that are worth exploring. Take a scenic drive along the rugged coastline and be captivated by the contrast of the mountains against the deep blue ocean. The nearby Seaward Kaikoura Range provides ample opportunities for hiking and exploring the diverse flora and fauna of the region.
For those with an adventurous spirit, join a quad bike tour or a guided kayaking trip to explore the hidden gems of Kaikoura. Discover secret coves, secluded beaches, and magnificent rock formations as you navigate through the stunning coastal scenery.
Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, an adventure seeker, or a food lover, Kaikoura offers an array of experiences and opportunities to create lasting memories. Immerse yourself in the beauty of the marine world, savor the delicious seafood, and immerse yourself in the stunning landscapes of this coastal gem.
Fiordland National Park
Located in the southwestern corner of the South Island, Fiordland National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site that showcases some of the most dramatic and awe-inspiring natural landscapes in New Zealand. With its deep fjords, towering waterfalls, and pristine wilderness, Fiordland National Park is a haven for outdoor adventurers and nature enthusiasts alike.
The crown jewel of Fiordland National Park is Milford Sound, one of New Zealand’s most iconic destinations. Embark on a scenic boat cruise and be mesmerized by the sheer cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and untouched beauty of this extraordinary place. As you glide through the fjords, keep an eye out for wildlife, including seals, dolphins, and the elusive Fiordland crested penguins.
In addition to Milford Sound, there are other stunning fiords to explore in the park, such as Doubtful Sound and Dusky Sound. These majestic fiords offer a more secluded and tranquil experience, with their untouched beauty and serene atmosphere. Take a guided kayak tour or a scenic flight to truly appreciate the grandeur and serenity of these hidden gems.
Fiordland National Park is also a paradise for hikers and nature lovers. The park is crisscrossed by an extensive network of walking tracks, including the famous Milford Track, Kepler Track, and Routeburn Track. These multi-day hikes take you deep into the heart of the park, allowing you to immerse yourself in the untamed wilderness and experience the raw beauty of Fiordland up close.
For a more leisurely adventure, take a scenic drive along the Milford Road, which offers stunning vistas of the surrounding mountains, lakes, and forests. Make stops along the way to admire Mirror Lakes, hike to Key Summit for panoramic views, and photograph the cascading waters of the Chasm and Homer Tunnel.
Fiordland National Park is also home to a diverse range of wildlife, including native birds, such as the iconic kiwi, takahe, and kea. Bird enthusiasts will be delighted by the opportunity to spot these rare and endangered species in their natural habitat.
Whether you choose to explore by boat, kayak, foot, or car, Fiordland National Park promises a truly unforgettable experience. Immerse yourself in the breathtaking landscapes, appreciate the tranquility of the remote wilderness, and create memories that will last a lifetime in this remarkable natural wonderland.
Nestled on the southeast coast of the South Island, Dunedin is a vibrant city known for its rich Scottish heritage, stunning Victorian architecture, and diverse wildlife. With its unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty, Dunedin offers a wealth of experiences for visitors to explore.
One of the highlights of Dunedin is its stunning Victorian and Edwardian architecture. Take a leisurely stroll through the city’s streets and admire the well-preserved heritage buildings, including the majestic Dunedin Railway Station and the ornate Larnach Castle. The Dunedin Public Art Gallery is a must-visit for art enthusiasts, housing an impressive collection of New Zealand and international artworks.
Dunedin is also home to the University of Otago, New Zealand’s oldest university. Explore the university campus and immerse yourself in the vibrant student atmosphere. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Otago Museum, which showcases a range of exhibits, including natural history, cultural artifacts, and the stunning butterfly rainforest.
Nature lovers will be delighted by the diverse wildlife that roams the Otago Peninsula. Here, you can embark on a wildlife cruise or join a guided tour to witness the magnificence of marine life. Encounter fur seals, sea lions, and rare yellow-eyed penguins as they frolic in the rugged coastal environment.
Dunedin is also known as the “Edinburgh of the South,” paying homage to its Scottish heritage. Visit the charming Olveston Historic Home, a lavish mansion that offers a glimpse into the lives of the early Dunedin elites, or attend a performance at the Dunedin Town Hall, which hosts a wide range of cultural events throughout the year.
For outdoor enthusiasts, Dunedin offers an array of recreational activities. Take a scenic hike along the picturesque Signal Hill Track, which offers panoramic views of the city and the coast. Explore the lush forests and sparkling waterfalls at the nearby Silver Peaks Conservation Area or embark on a cycling adventure along the scenic Otago Central Rail Trail.
Dunedin is also a culinary delight, with a thriving food and beverage scene. Explore the city’s cafes, bars, and restaurants, which offer a range of delectable dishes made with fresh local ingredients. Don’t forget to sample the famous Speight’s beer, brewed right in Dunedin.
With its unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty, Dunedin offers a truly captivating experience. Soak in the city’s rich heritage, explore the stunning landscapes, and immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of this charming city on the South Island of New Zealand.
Situated at the top of the South Island, Nelson is a vibrant and charming city known for its sunny climate, artistic community, and stunning natural landscapes. Surrounded by picturesque mountains, golden beaches, and lush vineyards, Nelson offers a perfect blend of outdoor adventure, cultural experiences, and a laid-back atmosphere.
One of the main attractions in Nelson is its thriving arts scene. The city boasts a large number of galleries, studios, and art festivals, making it a haven for artists and art enthusiasts. Explore the renowned Suter Art Gallery, showcasing a diverse range of local and national artworks, or stroll through the vibrant Saturday Market, where local artists and artisans display their creations.
Nelson is also known for its delightful local produce and world-class wine. Visit the Nelson Market to sample fresh produce, artisanal cheeses, and delicious treats. Take a tour of the local wineries and indulge in some wine tasting, particularly the region’s acclaimed Sauvignon Blancs and Pinot Noirs.
For outdoor enthusiasts, Nelson is a playground of adventure. The nearby Abel Tasman National Park offers an opportunity to explore its turquoise waters, golden sandy beaches, and lush native forests. Take a kayaking trip, go on a coastal walk, or embark on a sailing adventure to truly immerse yourself in this natural paradise.
For a unique experience, hike to the top of the Centre of New Zealand, a hill located within the city limits. Enjoy panoramic views of Nelson, Tasman Bay, and the surrounding mountains. If you prefer a more relaxed vibe, spend a day at Tahunanui Beach, where you can stroll along the sandy shores or take a dip in the calm waters.
Nelson is also a gateway to the captivating Marlborough Sounds, known for its intricate network of fjords and stunning coastline. Hop on a boat and cruise through the sound, admire the breathtaking views, and perhaps catch a glimpse of dolphins or seals that often frequent the area.
Immerse yourself in the local culture by exploring the boutique shops, cafes, and lively restaurants in the city center. Take a leisurely walk along the beautiful Queens Gardens or visit the World of WearableArt and Classic Cars Museum, where art and automotive enthusiasts alike will be captivated by the intricate creations on display.
With its vibrant arts scene, stunning natural beauty, and delightful local offerings, Nelson offers a truly captivating experience. Soak up the sunshine, embrace the creativity, and immerse yourself in the laid-back atmosphere of this eclectic city at the top of the South Island.
Tucked away at the southernmost tip of New Zealand, Stewart Island is a remote and untouched paradise. Known for its pristine forests, peaceful beaches, and abundant wildlife, this island offers a serene and immersive experience in nature.
One of the main attractions on Stewart Island is its unparalleled opportunities for wildlife encounters. Take a guided tour or venture out on your own to spot the elusive kiwi bird, a national icon of New Zealand. As the island is home to a significant population of these flightless birds, the chances of spotting one in its natural habitat are high.
Explore the island’s dense native forests that make up nearly 80% of its land area. Immerse yourself in the magnificent ecosystem as you hike along one of the island’s many walking trails, such as the Rakiura Track, a multi-day journey that allows you to discover the island’s stunning landscapes and diverse wildlife.
For those who appreciate solitude and seclusion, the deserted beaches of Stewart Island are a must-visit. Take a leisurely stroll along the sandy shores of popular spots such as Bathing Beach or Horseshoe Beach, or embark on a kayaking adventure along the rugged coastline, where you can explore hidden coves and enjoy the tranquility of the sea.
Stewart Island offers excellent fishing opportunities, with its abundance of fish species in the surrounding waters. Join a fishing charter or try your luck from one of the island’s many fishing spots. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a novice, the experience of catching your own fish and enjoying it fresh is a rewarding and unforgettable experience.
Visit the small settlement of Oban, the main township on Stewart Island, where you can learn about the island’s history and culture. Explore the local art galleries, boutiques, and cafes, and indulge in fresh seafood delicacies at one of the charming waterfront restaurants.
Stewart Island is also a gateway to the open ocean. Embark on a scenic boat tour and explore the nearby Ulva Island, a predator-free sanctuary with a thriving bird population. Learn about the island’s conservation efforts and see rare and endangered species up close.
With its remote and pristine beauty, Stewart Island offers a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Immerse yourself in nature, embrace solitude, and experience the unique charm of this hidden gem at the southern edge of New Zealand.
Nestled on the shores of Lake Te Anau, the town of Te Anau is known as the gateway to the beautiful Fiordland National Park. Surrounded by majestic mountains, pristine lakes, and lush forests, Te Anau offers a tranquil and picturesque setting for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers.
One of the main attractions in Te Anau is the stunning Lake Te Anau itself. Take a leisurely boat cruise or hire a kayak to explore the tranquil waters and admire the breathtaking mountain vistas. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Te Anau Glowworm Caves, a natural wonder where you can witness the magical glow of thousands of tiny glowworms illuminating the dark caverns.
Te Anau is also the starting point of the Milford Track and the Kepler Track, two of New Zealand’s Great Walks. Embark on a multi-day hiking adventure through Fiordland National Park, immersing yourself in the untouched wilderness and awe-inspiring beauty of the region.
For those seeking a more leisurely experience, explore the scenic beauty of Te Anau on foot. Take a walk along the picturesque Lakefront Trail and marvel at the stunning views of the lake and surrounding mountains. The Te Anau Bird Sanctuary is also worth a visit, where you can observe native bird species up close and learn about New Zealand’s unique wildlife.
Te Anau is also known for its remarkable wildlife encounters. Join a guided tour to spot rare and endangered birds, including the flightless takahe and the mischievous kea. Take a cruise to the remote Doubtful Sound, where you may be lucky enough to see dolphins, seals, and penguins in their natural habitat.
After a day of adventure, relax and unwind in Te Anau’s charming town center. Browse the boutique shops, visit the art galleries, and sample the local cuisine at the cozy cafes and restaurants. Don’t forget to try some of the delicious Fiordland specialties, such as venison, salmon, and lamb.
Te Anau also offers the opportunity to explore the surrounding wilderness by air. Take a scenic flight over Fiordland National Park and marvel at the breathtaking landscapes from above. Witness the snow-capped peaks, pristine lakes, and cascading waterfalls in all their glory.
With its natural beauty, outdoor adventures, and peaceful atmosphere, Te Anau is a perfect destination for those seeking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. Immerse yourself in the serenity of the surrounding landscapes, connect with nature, and create unforgettable memories in this stunning part of New Zealand.
Tucked away at the top of the South Island, the Marlborough Sounds is a breathtakingly beautiful region characterized by its intricate network of ancient sea-drowned valleys, rugged coastlines, and tranquil blue waters. This stunning collection of fjords, bays, and islands offers a peaceful and picturesque escape.
The Marlborough Sounds is renowned for its beauty and is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. The calm, sheltered waters are perfect for kayaking or boating, allowing you to explore the hidden coves, pristine beaches, and secluded bays. Set out on a guided sea kayak tour and glide silently through the crystal-clear waters, marveling at the diverse marine life and the untouched natural beauty.
Take advantage of the region’s walking and hiking trails, such as the Queen Charlotte Track, which winds its way along the ridges with stunning views of the Sounds below. Hike between serene bays and lush forests, enjoying the peace and tranquility that the Marlborough Sounds has to offer.
For wine lovers, a visit to the Marlborough Sounds would not be complete without sampling the renowned local wines. The region is famous for its Sauvignon Blanc, and many vineyards can be found nestled among the hills overlooking the stunning waterways. Visit award-winning wineries, indulge in tasting sessions, and savor the flavors of the region.
Wildlife enthusiasts will delight in the opportunity to spot dolphins, seals, and even rare colonies of little blue penguins that call the Marlborough Sounds home. Join a wildlife cruise and watch as pods of dolphins playfully swim alongside the boat, or keep an eye out for the adorable seals basking on the rocks.
In addition to its natural beauty, the Marlborough Sounds is also steeped in Maori history and culture. Visit local Maori sites, learn about their traditional ways of life, and gain insight into the rich heritage of the area.
Indulge in the region’s local seafood delicacies, including green-lipped mussels, fresh salmon, and whitebait. Many waterfront restaurants and cafes offer mouthwatering dishes made with ingredients sourced from the local waters.
With its stunning landscapes, peaceful waters, and abundant wildlife, the Marlborough Sounds is a true paradise for nature lovers and those seeking serenity. Immerse yourself in the tranquil beauty, soak in the breathtaking views, and discover the treasures that await in this idyllic part of New Zealand.
Aoraki/Mount Cook Village
Nestled within the rugged beauty of the Southern Alps, Aoraki/Mount Cook Village is a stunning alpine retreat and a dream destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Home to New Zealand’s highest peak, Aoraki/Mount Cook, this village offers breathtaking landscapes, hiking trails, and captivating experiences.
The highlight of a visit to Aoraki/Mount Cook Village is undoubtedly the chance to witness the majestic Aoraki/Mount Cook itself. Rising 3,724 meters above sea level, this snow-capped peak dominates the skyline and provides a surreal backdrop against the turquoise glacial lakes and dramatic mountain ranges.
Immerse yourself in the beauty of the area by embarking on one of the many hiking trails that surround the village. The Hooker Valley Track is a popular choice, offering stunning views of Mount Cook and leading you through picturesque alpine meadows, over swing bridges, and alongside glacial-fed rivers.
For the more adventurous, mountaineering is a popular activity in Aoraki/Mount Cook Village. Ascend the peaks and glaciers under the guidance of experienced guides, taking you to new heights and immersing yourself in the thrilling world of alpine exploration.
Explore the Tasman Glacier, one of the longest glaciers outside of the polar regions. Take a scenic boat tour to witness the spectacular ice formations and learn about the unique natural features of this frozen wonderland. Alternatively, opt for a thrilling helicopter ride for a bird’s-eye view of the glacier and surrounding mountain ranges.
Stargazing in Aoraki/Mount Cook Village is a must-do activity. The village is situated in the heart of the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve, offering exceptional opportunities for stargazing. Marvel at the brilliant constellations, witness shooting stars, and be awed by the clarity of the starry night sky.
Indulge in the alpine charm of the village itself, with its cozy lodges, charming cafes, and restaurants offering delectable cuisine. Sample locally sourced produce, including succulent salmon, venison, and other culinary delights prepared with care and expertise.
Aoraki/Mount Cook Village also serves as a base for exploring the surrounding national park, with its pristine lakes, interconnected walking tracks, and breathtaking vistas. Take a scenic flight to get a bird’s-eye view of the region and witness the grandeur of the Southern Alps.
Prepare to be captivated by the beauty and grandeur of Aoraki/Mount Cook Village. Experience the awe-inspiring landscapes, embark on thrilling adventures, and immerse yourself in the tranquility and serenity of this alpine paradise.
Arthur’s Pass National Park
Arthur’s Pass National Park, nestled in the heart of the Southern Alps, is a breathtaking alpine wonderland that showcases the wild and rugged beauty of New Zealand. This spectacular park is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts and offers a range of activities amidst stunning landscapes.
One of the main attractions in Arthur’s Pass National Park is the network of pristine hiking trails that wind through its diverse terrain. The Arthur’s Pass Walking Track allows visitors to explore the heart of the park, offering stunning views of waterfalls, alpine meadows, and towering mountains. For the more adventurous, hikes to Avalanche Peak or Mount Bealey provide unrivaled panoramic vistas.
Arthur’s Pass is also renowned for its diverse and unique wildlife. Keep an eye out for the cheeky kea, the world’s only alpine parrot, as well as the elusive rock wren and native alpine plants that thrive in the harsh alpine environment. The park is also home to rare reptiles, such as the jeweled gecko.
For those seeking an adrenaline rush, Arthur’s Pass offers opportunities for rock climbing, mountaineering, and canyoning. Test your skills on the challenging rock faces or rappel down waterfalls as you navigate the rugged terrain.
The park is intersected by the Arthur’s Pass Highway, one of New Zealand’s most scenic drives. The winding road takes you through breathtaking mountain passes, deep gorges, and dense forests, offering stunning views at every turn. Make sure to stop at the iconic Otira Viaduct Lookout for a bird’s-eye view of the surrounding landscapes.
Surrounded by majestic peaks, the village of Arthur’s Pass provides a base for exploring the park. Visit the Arthur’s Pass National Park Visitor Centre to learn about the park’s unique flora and fauna, as well as the history and culture of the area. The village is also home to cozy accommodations, cafes, and a charming alpine atmosphere.
Arthur’s Pass National Park truly comes alive during the winter months. The park offers excellent skiing and snowboarding opportunities, with several ski fields catered to all levels of experience. Experience the thrill of carving down the slopes amidst icy beauty.
Whether you’re an avid adventurer or simply looking for a place to immerse yourself in nature, Arthur’s Pass National Park has something for everyone. Explore its breathtaking trails, witness its unique wildlife, and soak in the natural beauty of this alpine paradise in the heart of the Southern Alps.
Tucked away on the southeastern coast of the South Island, The Catlins is a hidden gem offering an untouched natural paradise. With its rugged coastlines, lush rainforests, and abundant wildlife, this area is perfect for those seeking a tranquil escape and an immersive experience in nature.
One of the main attractions in The Catlins is its stunning coastline, characterized by dramatic cliffs, windswept beaches, and cascading waterfalls. Take a scenic drive along the Southern Scenic Route and marvel at the breathtaking panoramic views. Visit iconic spots like Nugget Point and Curio Bay, where you may spot seals and rare yellow-eyed penguins.
The Catlins is dotted with tranquil, secluded beaches that invite you to unwind and embrace the serenity of the surroundings. Surfers will find great waves at popular spots like Porpoise Bay and Tautuku Bay, while nature lovers can simply relax and enjoy the pristine beauty of the beaches.
Immerse yourself in the lush native forests of The Catlins by exploring its numerous walking tracks. Venture into the Catlins Conservation Park and discover hidden waterfalls, tranquil lakes, and diverse birdlife. The Cathedral Caves, a unique natural wonder, are also worth a visit, with their towering ceilings and exceptional acoustics.
The Catlins is a haven for wildlife, with numerous opportunities to encounter unique species. Take a wildlife tour to observe New Zealand sea lions at close proximity or kayak along the coast to spot dolphins and fur seals. Birdwatchers will be delighted by the chance to see rare species, including the rare yellowhead, fernbird, and the iconic New Zealand tītī (muttonbird).
Explore the rich history and cultural heritage of The Catlins by visiting historical sites and learning about the region’s early European settlers. Discover the remnants of old whaling stations and discover the fascinating stories of the region’s past at museums and visitor centers.
Don’t forget to sample the region’s local delicacies, such as fresh seafood and artisanal cheeses. Enjoy a meal at one of the local cafes or dine in accommodation nestled among the natural beauty of The Catlins.
With its untouched landscapes, diverse wildlife, and peaceful atmosphere, The Catlins offers a true escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Immerse yourself in the beauty of its rugged coastlines, immerse yourself in the tranquility of its forests, and create unforgettable memories in this hidden treasure of the South Island.
Located in the heart of the South Island, Hanmer Springs is a picturesque alpine village famous for its natural hot springs and stunning mountain scenery. This charming destination offers a perfect blend of relaxation, adventure, and rejuvenation.
The highlight of a visit to Hanmer Springs is undoubtedly the thermal hot springs for which the town is named. Immerse yourself in the soothing mineral-rich waters and let the warmth melt away your stresses. The thermal pools offer a range of bathing options, including rock pools, sulphur pools, and water slides for the whole family to enjoy.
In addition to the hot springs, Hanmer Springs is surrounded by breathtaking landscapes that provide the perfect backdrop for outdoor activities. Embark on a scenic hike or mountain bike ride along one of the many trails in the area, offering stunning views of the mountains, forests, and rivers.
For adrenaline seekers, Hanmer Springs offers a range of adventure activities. Try your hand at bungy jumping, jet boating, white-water rafting, or quad biking, and feel the thrill of these heart-pumping experiences in the beautiful alpine surroundings.
Golf enthusiasts will find pleasure in playing a round at the Hanmer Springs Golf Course. This beautifully manicured course offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and a challenging game for golfers of all levels.
Indulge your taste buds with the delectable cuisine and local wines of Hanmer Springs. The town is home to a range of excellent restaurants, cafes, and wineries, where you can savor the flavors of the region’s fresh produce and renowned varietals.
For those seeking a wellness retreat, Hanmer Springs offers a range of spa and wellness facilities. Pamper yourself with a luxurious spa treatment, massage, or facial, and allow yourself to fully relax and rejuvenate in this tranquil alpine setting.
Hanmer Springs is also a gateway to the beautiful alpine landscapes of the surrounding region. Take a scenic drive to explore nearby attractions, such as the Lewis Pass or the stunning marble formations of the Marble Point and Marble Hill.
With its natural beauty, therapeutic hot springs, adventure activities, and serene atmosphere, Hanmer Springs is a perfect destination for those seeking relaxation and rejuvenation. Immerse yourself in the tranquility of the thermal pools, embrace the breathtaking landscapes, and create lasting memories in this alpine oasis.
Situated in the heart of the Mackenzie Basin, Lake Tekapo is a stunning alpine lake known for its crystal-clear turquoise waters and breathtaking mountain vistas. With its mesmerizing beauty, it’s no wonder that Lake Tekapo is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, stargazers, and those seeking a peaceful retreat.
The vibrant turquoise color of Lake Tekapo is a result of fine rock flour that is carried down from the surrounding glaciers. Take a stroll along the lake’s shores and be captivated by the stunning contrast of the vibrant blue water against the backdrop of the snow-capped Southern Alps.
One of the must-visit attractions in Lake Tekapo is the iconic Church of the Good Shepherd. This picturesque stone church overlooks the lake and offers a beautiful setting for wedding ceremonies and quiet reflection. Enjoy the serenity of the surroundings and take in the panoramic views from the church’s peaceful grounds.
For a truly unique experience, visit the Mt John Observatory. Located atop Mount John, this internationally renowned observatory offers exceptional stargazing opportunities. Join a guided tour or simply lay back and marvel at the millions of stars twinkling above. Lake Tekapo’s remote location and clear skies make it one of the best places in the world for stargazing.
The surrounding area of Lake Tekapo is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts. Take a hike or mountain bike ride through the beautiful alpine tussock lands, enjoying the panoramic views of the lake and surrounding mountains along the way. In winter, nearby ski fields offer excellent opportunities for skiing and snowboarding.
A visit to the nearby Tekapo Springs is a treat for those seeking relaxation. Soak in the warm waters of the hot pools, enjoy a spa treatment, or slide down the exhilarating snow tube park in winter.
Dine in one of the lakeside cafes and restaurants, where you can savor delicious local cuisine while taking in the stunning views of Lake Tekapo. Don’t forget to try the renowned New Zealand salmon, which is farmed in the region’s pristine waters.
Whether you’re enjoying the tranquility of the lake, exploring the surrounding natural wonders, or marveling at the night sky, Lake Tekapo promises a truly unforgettable experience. Immerse yourself in the beauty of this alpine oasis and create memories that will last a lifetime.
Tucked away on the wild west coast of the South Island, Punakaiki is a hidden gem known for its stunning coastal scenery, dramatic rock formations, and unique pancake rocks. This small coastal village offers a tranquil retreat amidst the rugged beauty of the Paparoa National Park.
The main attraction in Punakaiki is the iconic Pancake Rocks and Blowholes. These ancient limestone formations have been eroded over time to create unique pancake-like layers. Take a stroll along the well-maintained Punakaiki Pancake Rocks Walkway and witness the power of the blowholes as sea water surges through narrow crevices, creating spectacular displays of water and sound.
Explore the untamed wilderness of the Paparoa National Park, which surrounds Punakaiki. Join guided tours or take self-guided hikes through lush native rainforests and discover hidden caves, cascading waterfalls, and diverse flora and fauna. The Pororari River Track and Truman Track are popular trails that showcase the beauty of the park.
Punakaiki is a great place to experience the wild and rugged west coast. Enjoy serene walks along the picturesque beaches, where you can admire the distinctive rock formations and take in the breathtaking views of the Tasman Sea. Don’t miss the opportunity to witness the stunning sunsets that paint the sky with shades of pink, purple, and gold.
The village itself is a tranquil and laid-back destination. Explore the local shops and galleries, where you can find unique crafts and art pieces inspired by the natural surroundings. The Pancake Rocks Cafe is a charming spot to relax and enjoy a delicious meal while soaking up the coastal atmosphere.
For adventure enthusiasts, Punakaiki offers thrilling experiences such as caving, kayaking, and horseback riding. Explore the underground wonders of the region with guided cave tours, paddle along the rugged coastline, or gallop along the beaches and through the forest on horseback.
Immerse yourself in the peaceful and natural environment of Punakaiki by opting to stay in one of the cozy accommodations nestled in the heart of the village or choose eco-friendly retreats tucked away in the surrounding wilderness.
Punakaiki is a place of natural beauty, tranquility, and unique geological wonders. Whether you’re captivated by the Pancake Rocks and Blowholes, exploring the national park, or simply unwinding on the pristine beaches, Punakaiki offers a truly enchanting experience on the untamed west coast of the South Island.
Franz Josef Glacier
Nestled within the Westland Tai Poutini National Park, Franz Josef Glacier is a magnificent natural wonder and a must-visit destination on the South Island of New Zealand. This stunning glacier captivates visitors with its icy blue hues, towering ice formations, and breathtaking surrounding landscapes.
One of the best ways to experience the beauty of Franz Josef Glacier is by taking a guided glacier hike. Explore the icy terrain as expert guides lead you through towering ice formations, deep crevasses, and stunning ice caves. Marvel at the ever-changing landscape shaped by the forces of nature and witness the sheer power of the glacier up close.
If hiking on the glacier is not your preference, there are other ways to appreciate Franz Josef Glacier’s majestic beauty. Take a helicopter tour that provides a bird’s-eye perspective of the glacier and its dramatic surroundings. As you soar above the icy expanse, you’ll be captivated by the sweeping views of snow-capped peaks and cascading waterfalls.
For a more leisurely experience, explore the hiking trails that surround Franz Josef Glacier. The Douglas Walk and Roberts Point Track offer breathtaking views of the glacier and the surrounding alpine landscapes. These walks immerse visitors in the lush rainforest, where native birds can be spotted among the ancient trees.
After a day of exploration, relax and unwind in the nearby Franz Josef village. The town offers a range of amenities, including cafes, restaurants, and accommodations to suit all budgets. Don’t forget to indulge in a soothing soak in the local hot pools, where you can soak away any fatigue while basking in the Alpine scenery.
When visiting Franz Josef Glacier, it’s important to note that the glacier is subject to natural changes and weather conditions. Ensure your safety by venturing onto the glacier with experienced guides and following their instructions. It’s also worth checking the weather and booking guided tours in advance.
Whether you choose to embark on a guided glacier hike, take a scenic helicopter flight, or admire Franz Josef Glacier from the surrounding hiking trails, the sheer magnitude and beauty of this natural wonder will leave you in awe. Experience the power of nature and create lasting memories in the captivating realm of Franz Josef Glacier.