The majority of tourists that go to this region of the world make their final stop on the South Island of New Zealand. Despite the fact that it is a very small island, there are a surprising number of beautiful and fascinating experiences to be had there.
The North Island of New Zealand strikes the ideal balance between natural and urban settings, with a dash of indigenous culture thrown in for good measure. On the other hand, the South Island of New Zealand amplifies the scenic and isolated aspects of the country. You can anticipate being transported away to wondrous fjords, majestic mountain ranges, beaches, and lakes, all of which are stunning.
Best Places to Visit in New Zealand South Island
For your convenience, we have compiled a list of the very finest things to do in the South Island of New Zealand so that you won’t miss out on any of the activities that are considered essential.
1. Explore the Town of Queenstown
Queenstown is the most gorgeous little town in New Zealand (and our favorite spot in the world!) since it is nestled between snow-capped mountains and the ever-sparkling Lake Wakatipu.
Any itinerary for the South Island of New Zealand should center on the magnificent town of Queenstown due to the abundance of exciting activities that can be enjoyed there. The natural world and exciting new experiences are typically at the center of the things to do here.
Activities such as bungee jumping, canyoning, ziplining, rafting, luging, jet boating, skiing, hiking, skydiving, and many more are available for people who are looking for adventure.
2. Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers should be Your Next Destination
Both Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers in New Zealand’s South Island may be found around halfway down the island’s western coast. Both glaciers are known for their dramatic and stunning appearances.
Both glaciers are located in close proximity to one another, so it is common logic that if you are going to visit one, you should also visit the other. Nevertheless, if you are limited on time and can only visit one of the glaciers, make it Franz Josef Glacier, because many people consider it to be the most stunning of the two.
Although it is feasible to make this location a brief stopover, it is recommended that you plan to stay here for at least a couple of days so that you have enough time to explore the area in depth.
3. Take a Tour Through Milford Sound
In spite of the fact that it is one of the most visited tourist spots in New Zealand, the stunning natural beauty of Milford Sound is every bit as otherworldly as it appears in the photographs.
It is possible that the journey from Queenstown to Milford Sound will take approximately five hours one way, but there will be numerous opportunities to get out of the car and stretch your legs along the way.
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Once there, travelers have their pick of several amazing climbs, including those with commanding views, all of which come highly recommended by us to ardent adventurers. Lake Marian and Key Summit are two of our favorite short walks because the terrain at either location is not very difficult and both offer breathtaking vistas.
4. Abel Tasman National Park
The coastline of the upper part of the South Island is lined with a number of scenic coves that make up Abel Tasman National Park. You’ll discover glistening waters with a coloration somewhere between turquoise and emerald green here, and there’s a path that’s been kept in good condition all the way through.
The Abel Tasman Coast Track, which runs through the park, is one of the most popular ways to explore the area and is widely regarded as one of the most stunning multi-day walks in New Zealand.
It will take you anywhere from four to five days to complete the track, and there are huts along the way that you will need to book in advance due to the fact that it is one of the most popular tracks in the nation.
Dunedin is a unique and exciting city that can be found on the extreme eastern coast of the South Island. It is only a five-hour trip from Christchurch, and it takes less than four hours to go to Queenstown from Dunedin.
This charming town is well known for its old and historic structures, which makes it an ideal location to stay for a night or two while you are in the area, exploring the attractions that the surrounding areas have to offer.
6. Discover the City of Christchurch
Christchurch is the second-largest city in New Zealand, after Auckland. It is situated in the middle of the South Island’s east coast, and it is the country’s second-most populous metropolis.
The 2011 earthquake and the massacres at two mosques in Christchurch have combined to make the previous few years absolutely terrible for the city of Christchurch.
The city, on the other hand, takes great pride in its resilience, and as a result, it offers a great variety of lodgings, restaurants, bars, and attractions.
7. The Catlins Waterfalls as well as the Nugget Point Lighthouse
The Catlins are our top pick for the most beautiful place to visit in New Zealand. The journey from Queenstown or Dunedin all the way down to this region on the southernmost tip of the South Island is well worth it due to the abundance of breathtaking scenery that can be found in this often-overlooked part of the island.
The entire region is a playground for photographers, but the Nugget Point Lighthouse, which is located close to Kaka Point, is the most famous location in this area. There is a lot to discover here as well.
8. Explore the Surrounding Area of Aoraki Mount Cook Via a Scenic Flight or Hike
Mount Cook, also known as Aoraki, stands at an elevation of 3,724 meters (12,218 feet) and is the tallest mountain in New Zealand.
It should come as no surprise that only experienced mountaineers should attempt to ascend the summit; nonetheless, the area around the mountain is a national park with a variety of trails suitable for hikers of various skill levels and capabilities.
9. Take a Trip to Lake Tekapo
Lake Tekapo is a breathtakingly blue lake with milky waters, and it can be found in the center of the Mackenzie District, around midway between Aoraki Mount Cook and Christchurch. The color of the water is a result of a natural occurrence that happens when glaciers melt and cause runoff into the lake.
This discharge is full of fine rock flour that was ground into a powder by the glaciers and is floating around in the water of the lake.
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One of the nicest things to do on the South Island is to take in the view of the lake, and our preferred location for doing so is the Church of the Good Shepherd, which also happens to be an excellent backdrop for photographs.
10. Discover the Wonders of Wanaka
It will only take you one hour to drive from Queenstown to Lake Wanaka, which is found in the breathtaking southern Alps of the South Island. It is far enough out to get away from some of the hustle and bustle of the larger town, yet it is also close enough to a wide variety of trails and activities.
While in Wanaka, our top priorities are to go hiking in the summer and skiing or snowboarding in the winter.
New Zealand, which served as the location for the filming of the acclaimed “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, has a magnificent beauty that is reminiscent of Middle Earth.
The breathtaking scenery with cascading waterfalls, deep fjords, hot water springs, sizzling geysers, untamed wilds, crystal clear beaches, and sparkling glaciers is just the beginning of its magnificent narrative. Because there are so many amazing spots to see in New Zealand, it can be difficult for tourists to choose which ones to put on their travel bucket list and which ones they should skip.