South Island

The rugged and wild wildernesses of New Zealand’s South Island are some of the most spectacular in the world.

With dramatic fjords, crystal clear lakes, wild mountains, exciting ski-fields and pristine hidden bays, the variety of scenery is one of the South Island’s biggest draw cards. But there is far more than just pretty scenery that draws visitors to its shores. New Zealand’s oldest settlement, Christchurch is home to interesting museums and numerous wildlife parks, where the country’s most iconic species – the flightless kiwi – can be seen.

Renowned for its world-class wines, many of the country’s best vineyards are on the North Island. The top of the South Island however does have a number of excellent boutique vineyards around the towns of Nelson and Blenheim. Outside of award-winning sauvignon blanc, the region also encompasses the tiny but exquisite Abel Tasman National Park and the beautiful drowned valleys of Marlborough Sound.

The small town of Franz Josef on the Waiho River is the gateway to two of the island’s iconic glaciers – Fox and Franz Josef glaciers. Both glaciers can be explored on foot or by helicopter whilst Westland Tai Poutini National Park is on the town’s doorstep. There are a number of walks suitable for everyone that pass through beautiful forests including Callery Gorge and Canavans Knob walk. Nearby Mount Cook, also known as ‘Aoraki’ is New Zealand’s highest peak (3,724m) and is flanked by Tasman, the country’s largest glacier.

To the south, Milford Sound is one of the country’s most visited destinations. This remote, steep-sided fjord runs 15km inland from the Tasman Sea. Most visitors cruise Milford Sound, but flight-seeing is also possible. Seals and dolphins are common whilst it is possible to see whales and the endangered Fiordland crested penguin.

Undoubtably the South Island’s major highlight, Queenstown has been dubbed the Adventure Capital of the World, boasting some 220 adventure travel activities from mountain biking and jet boating to bungy jumping and skydiving. Its picturesque setting on the shores of Lake Wakatipu with the splendid “Remarkables” mountain range as a back drop make it a popular holiday destination. With four ski fields in close proximity it offers sensational snow sport opportunities making the town a year-round attraction.

South Island Highlights

Christchurch New Zealand

Christchurch

South Island’s largest urban settlement – Christchurch – is also the country’s oldest. Rattled by major earthquakes in 2011, the city was rapidly rebuilt and is now greener and more accessible than ever. Christchurch is home to a major airport, interesting museums and numerous wildlife parks where you can view the emblematic flightless kiwi.

Walking on the cliffs of Dunedin

Dunedin

The principal city of Otago, historic Dunedin is packed with prominent heritage buildings including Speight’s Brewery, Larnarch Castle and the railway station. To the east lies the Otago Peninsula which shelters the world’s only mainland breeding colony of royal albatross, alongside rare species such as yellow-eyed penguins and seals.

Riding in Queenstown

Queenstown

The undisputed adrenalin capital of New Zealand, Queenstown boasts some 220 adventure travel activities from mountain biking and jet boating to bungy jumping and skydiving. Set on the shores of Lake Wakatipu this picturesque resort town is also a centre for snow sports in winter with four ski fields in close proximity.

Milford Sound South Island

Milford Sound

One of New Zealand’s most visited destinations, this remote, steep-sided fjord runs 15km inland from the Tasman Sea, with two permanent waterfalls and dozens of temporary cascades after heavy rain. Most visitors cruise Milford Sound, but flight-seeing is also possible. Seals and dolphins are common and it is possible to see whales and the endangered Fiordland crested penguin.

Mt Cook New Zealand

Franz Josef & Mount Cook

Named after an Austrian emperor, the township of Franz Josef is gateway to two of South Island’s most famous glaciers, whose ever-changing terrain can be explored on foot and by helicopter. Also known as ‘Aoraki’, Mount Cook is New Zealand’s loftiest summit (3,724m), and is flanked by Tasman, the country’s largest glacier.

Marlborough Sound

Top of the south

Best known for its stunning coastline, mild climate and world-famous white wines, this region encompasses the tiny but exquisite Abel Tasman National Park and the drowned valleys of Marlborough Sounds. Stow away to secluded Arthurs Bay or savour acclaimed sauvignon blanc with sustainably caught fresh seafood in historic Nelson, South Island’s oldest city

Recommended New Zealand Tours

A personalised itinerary takes into account your individual travel style, budget and special interests. To get you started on deciding what you may want to do and see in New Zealand, we have compiled a range of suggested itineraries and inspirations in case you are travelling as a family, on a honeymoon or enjoy more physical activity. Below are some of our most popular sample tour in New Zealand.

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South Island Accommodation

Below is a range of suggested hotels in the South Island of New Zealand. Please contact us for availability.

The George

Located in the heart of Christchurch overlooking beautiful Hagley Park, The George offers superb accommodation and impeccable service

The Hermitage Hotel

Discover the wonders of Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park in New Zealand's South Island staying at The Hermitage Hotel

The Lindis

Located in the remote and starkly beautiful Ahuriri Valley, The Lindis is a hidden paradise far from civilisation.

Rimu Lodge

Sometimes called “the land that time forgot” this is a region of snow-covered mountains, forest and gentle farmland where the Hokitika River runs down to the sea.

Maruia River Retreat

Find yourself in a world of peace and beauty at Maruia River Retreat, a boutique lodge surrounded by stunning natural wilderness on the Maruia River.

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