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12 Finest Issues To Do on New Zealand’s South Island – Bearfoot Principle


The South Island of New Zealand is the last word vacation spot for many vacationers heading to this a part of the world. Regardless of its small bundle, the island is surprisingly packed full of gorgeous and thrilling experiences. The place the North Island is the right juxtaposition of pure and concrete with a sprinkling of indigenous tradition, the South Island turns the dial up on the picturesque and distant aspect of New Zealand.

Anticipate to be whisked away to magical fiords, majestic mountain ranges, glowing seashores, and lovely lakes. Beneath we’ve put collectively an inventory of the best possible issues to do within the South Island of New Zealand to make sure you don’t miss out on any of the must-dos!

Necessary Reminder: Because it goes in the entire locations we share, please follow good path etiquette and keep in mind to Go away No Hint. This implies packing out your entire rubbish (together with bathroom paper), being respectful to others on busy trails, and following the established guidelines.

Finest Issues To Do On the South Island of New Zealand – Mapped!

1. Discover Queenstown

Nestled between snow-capped mountains and the ever-sparkling Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown is essentially the most lovely little city in New Zealand (and our favourite place on the earth!). There are a ton of nice issues to do in Queenstown and any New Zealand South Island Itinerary ought to revolve round this superior city. The sights right here are likely to contain two key themes: nature and journey.

Journey-seekers will discover bungee leaping, canyoning, ziplining, rafting, luging, jet boating, snowboarding, mountaineering, skydiving, and way more.

In winter, the city transforms right into a ski village with 4 epic ski fields close by: Coronet Peak, The Remarkables, Cardrona, and Treble Cone. These are world-class amenities with quite a few chairlifts and runs which are positively price testing through the snowy months.

Conversely, nature lovers will discover Queenstown the right city to flee civilization and actually expertise New Zealand’s magnificence with out having to stray too removed from a very good cafe or restaurant.

There are numerous hikes close by together with Ben Lomond, Queenstown Hill, and Moke Lake in addition to quite a few easily-reachable viewpoints for unimaginable vistas.

Be sure that to permit a minimum of 3-5 days to actually discover all of the sights in Queenstown and try these prime Queenstown journey suggestions earlier than you go.

Views out over Lake Wakatipu from viewpoint above Queenstown, New Zealand
Queenstown is surrounded by mountains and water, making it an incredible place for journey

2. Head to Fox & Franz Josef Glaciers

The dramatic and spectacular Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers are situated partway down the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island.

Each glaciers neighbor one another intently, so if you happen to’re visiting one it often is sensible to go to the opposite as nicely. Nonetheless, if you’re brief on time and must skip one then be sure that to go to Franz Josef Glacier because it’s arguably the extra lovely of the 2.

It’s an incredible concept to goal to spend a day or two right here to permit sufficient time to discover the world completely, although it’s potential to make it a quick stopover. There may be one fundamental hike which takes round 45-minutes which is able to let you get a glimpse of the world.

In order for you a really epic expertise, a helicopter trip over the glaciers is one other nice choice, rewarding you with a perspective that merely can’t be achieved on foot.

>> Learn Subsequent: New Zealand’s West Coast, Franz Josef Glacier, Arthur’s Go, & Wanaka Itinerary

Two hikers on path walking toward Franz Josef Glacier in New Zealand
You’ll want to take the two.5-mile stroll to get a greater view of Franz Josef Glacier

3. Cruise Via Milford Sound

Regardless of being one of the vital in style vacationer locations in New Zealand, Milford Sound’s magnificence is just as surreal because the photographs make it out to be.

The drive from Queenstown to Milford Sound can take round 5-hours every means with loads of stops to get out and stretch your legs.

As soon as there, guests can select from a handful of epic hikes with commanding views which we’d advocate to avid adventurers. Our favourite brief hikes are Lake Marian and Key Summit, each of which have beautiful views and neither is simply too difficult.

On the opposite finish of the spectrum, there may be the Milford Monitor and Routeburn Monitor that are two of New Zealand’s Nice Hikes taking 4 and three days respectively.

All vacationers within the South Island ought to guarantee they embody a cruise by means of the Milford Sound as a part of their itinerary. The tour by Mitre Peak Cruises is our favourite due to the smaller boat measurement and educated guides.

>> Try BFT Founder Kristen’s photographs from her helicopter flight above Milford Sound

Tall mountains in Milford Sound on New Zealand's South Island rising up from water at sunset
Milford Sound is without doubt one of the most lovely areas on the South Island and positively price a go to | Photograph credit score: Deliliah Hart

4. Hike the Abel Tasman Nationwide Park

Abel Tasman Nationwide Park is a sequence of picturesque bays alongside the coast of the highest of the South Island. Right here you could find glowing, turquoise-green waters framed by dense, native bush with a well-maintained observe in between.

The park is often explored by mountaineering the Abel Tasman Coast Monitor which is taken into account certainly one of New Zealand’s most lovely multi-day hikes.

The observe takes 4-5 days to finish and there are huts alongside the best way that you’ll want to guide nicely prematurely because it is without doubt one of the hottest tracks within the nation.

If you happen to don’t need to hike the complete size, you’ll be able to go for a day hike alongside one of many extra scenic sections of the observe. Simply guide a water taxi from Nelson, Kaiteriteri, or Marahau. The day part of the observe is round 12km (7.5 miles) and is a comparatively leisurely stroll over a couple of hours with loads of time to absorb the solar on the seaside.

If you happen to’re seeking to get out on the water, kayaking within the Abel Tasman sea can be an unimaginable expertise adopted by a go to to the close by city of Nelson.

>> Learn Subsequent: New Zealand Backpacking & Tramping Information

A bay with turquoise-colored water in Abel Tasman National Park in New Zealand
Kayak or hike alongside the gorgeous turquoise waters in Abel Tasman Nationwide Park

5. See Wildlife & Discover the Coast in Dunedin

Dunedin is an fascinating and quirky metropolis situated on the far japanese coast of the South Island, only a 5-hour drive from Christchurch or below 4 hours from Queenstown.

This enjoyable city is famend for its previous, historic buildings, making it an incredible spot to spend an evening or two when you discover the sights the neighboring areas have to supply.

As nice because the city itself is, getting out of city is the goal right here. The coast alongside this a part of the nation is rugged and scenic with moody seashores and intriguing rock formations. Vacationers ought to goal to go for a drive south alongside the shoreline ensuring to cease on the well-known Moeraki Boulders.

Wildlife on this area can be ample, so alongside your drive, you’ll undoubtedly expertise it in some kind. Allans Seaside is an area spot the place it’s sometimes straightforward to identify sea lions. Sandfly Bay is dwelling to seals, sea lions, and yellow-eyed penguins (a cute native to New Zealand). Recognizing the penguins will be troublesome, however you’ll have essentially the most luck at nightfall or daybreak.

You may additionally be fortunate sufficient to identify dolphins off the coast of Dunedin.

>> Learn Subsequent: The Catlins, Dunedin, & Oamaru Itinerary

Large round Moeraki Boulders on a beach in New Zealand
The Moeraki Boulders are a novel cease close to Dunedin

6. Discover Christchurch

After Auckland, Christchurch is New Zealand’s second-largest metropolis and is situated about midway down the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island.

Christchurch has skilled a devastating previous few years with the 2011 earthquake and the Christchurch mosque shootings.

Town is proudly resilient, although, and also you’ll discover loads of superior lodging, eating places, bars, and sights right here.

Head to the CBD to go to the gorgeous Hagley Park with the Christchurch Botanic Gardens, Canterbury Museum, and Riverside Market close by. Then trip the tram to get a full tour of this lovely metropolis.

Tram on tracks in Christchurch, New Zealand
Photograph credit score: Deliliah Hart

7. {Photograph} Nugget Level Lighthouse & The Catlins Waterfalls

Our favourite scenic spot in New Zealand is The Catlins. This often-forgotten area on the southern tip of the South Island is packed stuffed with so many lovely landscapes that it’s nicely definitely worth the drive out from Queenstown or Dunedin.

There’s quite a bit to discover right here and the whole area is a photographer’s playground, however essentially the most famend spot is Nugget Level Lighthouse situated close to Kaka Level.

The lighthouse itself is extremely scenic with spectacular views out over the lighthouse and the dramatic cliffs round it. The most effective time to go to is simply earlier than dawn when you’ll be able to perch your self on an outcropping to catch the primary gentle of the day rising behind the lighthouse.

The stroll right here is conveniently brief and flat, taking round 10-minutes from the parking zone. It’s a good suggestion to discover the observe to the lighthouse the place you could find uninterrupted views out to sea. It’s additionally straightforward to identify seals and sea lions on the backside of the cliffs.

Lighthouse sitting on top of pyramid-shaped rock with sun setting over ocean horizon
Nugget Lighthouse within the Catlins is certainly one of our favourite locations to go to in New Zealand | Photograph credit score: Deliliah Hart

8. Take a Scenic Flight or Hike Round Aoraki Mount Cook dinner

Aoraki Mount Cook dinner is New Zealand’s highest mountain at 3,724m (12,218 ft). Unsurprisingly, climbing the mountain is just for skilled mountaineers, nonetheless, the encircling space is a nationwide park containing quite a few walks for hikers of all ranges and skills.

The Hooker Valley Monitor is by far the most well-liked brief stroll and is a must-do for anybody visiting. At 10km (6.2 miles) lengthy and simply 3-hours round-trip, there are few walks in New Zealand that may declare to rival the views relative to the hassle of this stroll.

One other wonderful hike is the Mueller Hut Route which takes about 4-hours one technique to attain the Mueller Hut, the place you’ll be able to select to spend the night time.

Making the most of the community of mountaineering trails is admittedly one of the simplest ways to expertise Aoraki Mount Cook dinner. Vacationers with a bit extra money to spend can think about reserving a scenic flight or helicopter which is able to provide a recent perspective unseen by most guests.

>> Learn Subsequent: Mount Cook dinner Itinerary

View out over Mount Cook in New Zealand with paved highway crossing in front
Mount Cook dinner is New Zealand’s tallest mountain and residential to many hikes and outside adventures

9. Go to Lake Tekapo

Situated within the coronary heart of the Mackenzie District roughly midway between Aoraki Mount Cook dinner and Christchurch, Lake Tekapo is a stunningly blue lake with milky waters. The colour of the water is a pure phenomenon occurring because of the runoff from melting glaciers. This runoff incorporates nice rock flour which was floor by the glaciers and is suspended within the water of the lake.

Viewing the lake is without doubt one of the greatest issues to do on the South Island and our favourite spot is from the Church of the Good Shepherd which conveniently seems to be nice in photographs.

The world is situated in the course of a darkish sky reserve which implies stargazing right here is especially spectacular (one of many few darkish sky reserves in New Zealand). There are guided excursions that may be booked from the observatory on the town, or simply head exterior at night time and benefit from the view.

Stone Church of the Good Shepherd on the shores of Lake Tekapo in New Zealand
The picturesque Church of the Good Shepherd on Lake Tekapo | Photograph credit score: Deliliah Hart

10. Cruise the Marlborough Sounds & Hike the Queen Charlotte Monitor

The Marlborough Sounds are a bunch of 4 extremely scenic sounds situated on the prime of the South Island close to Nelson. Essentially the most generally explored Sound is the Queen Charlotte Sound which extends out from Picton township.

A bit much less in style than the close by Abel Tasman Coastal Monitor, many locals have battled to have the Queen Charlotte Monitor acknowledged as certainly one of New Zealand’s Nice Walks. In our opinion, the observe intently rivals its neighbor in magnificence.

The Queen Charlotte Monitor is a 71km observe that takes 3 – 5 days with lodging dotted alongside the best way. In comparison with the Abel Tasman Coastal Monitor, the lodging right here is non-public and provides a better degree of luxurious, nonetheless, tenting remains to be an choice for budget-oriented vacationers.

We’d advocate any traveler to New Zealand do a minimum of a piece of the hike. This tour by Beachcomber Cruises is ideal. The guides take you on a scenic cruise by means of the Sound earlier than dropping you off on the observe and choosing you up once more additional alongside.

View of Marlborough Sound fjord with turquoise-colored water on South Island of New Zealand surrounded by lush mountains
Discover Marlborough Sounds by boat and on foot for an unforgettable expertise | Photograph credit score: Deliliah Hart

11. Go Wine Tasting in Marlborough or Central Otago

New Zealand is without doubt one of the most outstanding new world wine areas and the areas of Otago and Marlborough within the South Island are two of the most effective. Whether or not you take pleasure in an occasional glass or are a wine aficionado, be sure that to cease off at a few of the wineries in both (or each) of those areas.

The Central Otago wine area is situated proper subsequent to Queenstown and is world-renowned for its pinot noir varietals. Our favourite wineries listed below are Rippon, Amisfield, and Akarua. Regardless of being well-known for pinot noir, the area additionally grows an array of different grapes so don’t miss out on these.

The Marlborough wine area lends itself to white wine varietals, particularly sauvignon blanc. Once more, it’s a good suggestion to discover the opposite varieties – our favourite vineyard right here is Framingham which is most well-known for its rieslings.

Landscape view out over vineyard at winery in New Zealand with bay and mountains as backdrop
Go to the South Island’s Marlborough and Otago areas for lovely wines and surroundings | Photograph credit score: Deliliah Hart

12. Discover Wanaka

Lake Wanaka is situated within the spectacular southern alps of the South Island, only a 1-hour drive from Queenstown. It’s far sufficient to flee a few of the hustle of the bigger city however nonetheless be surrounded by numerous hikes and sights.

Our two must-dos whereas in Wanaka are mountaineering in summer time and snowboarding/snowboarding in winter.

Roy’s Peak Hike is a well-known hike that takes round 8 hours from begin to end and entails 1,258m (4127 ft) of elevation acquire to achieve spectacular views. The equally beautiful Isthmus Stroll is a much less in style various with an analogous degree of problem.

On account of icy situations, these hikes are considerably more difficult in winter so we like to go to Cardrona or Treble Cone ski resorts that are two of the most effective in New Zealand and provide wonderful alpine situations for skiers and boarders.

>> Learn Subsequent: Wakana, Rob Roy Glacier, & Mt. Aspiring New Zealand Itinerary

Tree in the middle of Lake Wanaka in New Zealand with mountains in background
The Wanaka Willow is without doubt one of the most well-known bushes in New Zealand as a result of it’s surrounded by the pristine waters of Lake Wanaka | Photograph Credit score: Delilah Hart

Associated Weblog Posts:

In 2015, BFT Founder Kristen spend three months exploring the North and South Islands of New Zealand. Try her New Zealand South Island Highway Journey Recaps for assist planning your journey:

Have you ever visited the South Island of New Zealand? What locations did we miss? Which of them are in your bucket checklist? Go away a remark under!

Plan an unforgettable road trip to the South Island of New Zealand with this guide featuring incredible outdoor adventures.

Written by
Delilah Hart

Delilah Hart is a New Zealand-born journey author. She is enthusiastic about journey and loves exploring the world, having visited Southeast Asia and Australasia extensively. Her favourite place to go to is Queenstown in her lovely dwelling nation, New Zealand.



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