New Zealand’s South Island is filled with natural marvels, from snow-capped mountains and crystal-clear lakes to rugged headlands and tranquil wine country. This diverse region is also popular with adrenalin junkies looking for snow sports and bungee jumping, as well as foodies seeking world-renowned wine and farm-to-table produce.
Things to do in South Island
Nature around the South Island is incredibly diverse, ranging from the towering peaks, waterfalls and glacial fjords in Fiordland National Park to the sandy beaches, granite cliffs and coastal hiking trails in Abel Tasman National Park. Don’t miss Milford Sound, known for the iconic Mitre Peak and penguin sightings, or Fox Glacier, where you can hike across 13 kilometres of maritime glacier.
Those seeking authentic Maori culture and local wildlife should visit Willowbank Wildlife Reserve in Christchurch. Here you can see kiwi birds, dine on authentic Maori cuisine and witness cultural and dance performances. Step back in time to the 1860s New Zealand gold rush at Shantytown, which recreates this era with steam train rides, gold panning and live shows.
Do you love getting your blood pumping? Queenstown should be your South Island destination of choice, thanks to its sky-high bungee jumping and fast-paced swings. You’ll also find multiple skiing and snowboarding mountains with night skiing, terrain parks and experienced schools for beginners. Don’t forget about the exhilarating jet boats and semisubmersibles that traverse around Lake Wakatipu.
For something more low key, venture up to the Marlborough region, a world-famous wine-growing area known for its Sauvignon Blanc and fresh seafood. Indulge in king salmon and mussels on a Marlborough Sounds cruise, browse the local artisan markets or tour over 130 wineries and 37 cellar doors.
Getting around South Island
The South Island has a number of international and domestic airports in major cities, such as Queenstown and Christchurch. You can get around with domestic flights, land tours or by renting a car and driving yourself.