7 Reasons To Visit New Zealand's South Island

New Zealand's South Island features towering alps, rugged coastlines and sweeping plains, so if you are looking for a destination that offers spectacular scenery, a wide range of natural attractions combined with plenty of health rejuvenating activities then the South Island makes for a perfect holiday destination.

Dominating the South Island of New Zealand are the Southern Alps which take in the full length of the island. Queenstown is known as the adventure capital of New Zealand, and is a great location to start your South Island exploration as Queenstown makes for a perfect jumping point to dive in and explore the Milford Sound and Fiordland National Park.

To the south lies Dunedin which is filled with Scottish heritage and a diverse range of wildlife and classical buildings. To the north are the sunny regions of Nelson and Marlborough both famous for their crisp white wines and fabulous food.

Getting There

New Zealand's South Island is serviced by three international airports being the Christchurch International Airport, Queenstown International Airport and Dunedin International Airport.

1. Queenstown

New Zealand's number one year round resort destination is Queenstown situated near Lake Wakatipu with the Remarkables mountain range looming in the background. Queenstown makes a picture perfect location for photographers and nature lovers alike.

There is much to keep a tourist occupied in Queenstown including taking a trip on the Skyline Gondola to the top of Bob's Peak which provides spectacular views over Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu towards the Remarkables. Visitors can stop to enjoy a delicious meal, or take a luge ride. Its possible to take a trip back on the gondola or walk down. Its even possible to take a tandem paragliding ride to the base.

Queenstown-New-Zealand Queenstown Vista

Adrenaline junkies will really enjoy taking a heart stopping ride in the jetboat or maybe bungy jumping or even sky diving. Visitors can also participate in a range of sailing activities, mountain biking or simply enjoy a round or two of golf at any one of the four golf courses dotted around Queenstown.

2. Christchurch

The city has well and truly bounced back since the Canterbury earthquakes of 2010 and 2011, with many new attractions now available alongside the old favorites. Christchurch is a six hour drive from Queenstown with the journey providing visitors with a range of beautiful vistas throughout the drive.


Whether punting along down the Avon River, wandering through the world famous Botanic Gardens or shopping and dining along the famed precinct, Christchurch is a great destination for visitors to the region.

3. Marlborough Region

The Marlborough region of the South Island is nestled in the north eastern corner. Together with the Nelson region, Marlborough is blessed with plenty of sunny days making it an ideal growing region for its world famous white wines. The Marlborough region extends from Kaikoura on the east coast through to the Marlborough Sounds and includes the picture perfect towns of Blenheim and Picton.

Blenheim is the largest wine growing region of Marlborough with over 4,000 hectares of grapes planted, and almost 300 grape growers. Although the region is best known for its Sauvignon Blanc it is also proud of its locally produced Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Riesling and Pinot Gris.


Along with the number of wineries Marlborough has a reputation for gourmet foods including high quality seafood, which has resulted in the region having some of New Zealand's best small cafes and restaurants, where visitors can sample the local cuisine.

4. West Coast Glaciers

The West Coast region of New Zealand extends approximately 600 kilometres from north of Karamea and Westport, south of Haast. The West Coast region is no wider than 70 kilometers at its widest point and is famous for its diverse range of flora and fauna which live in the alpine mountains, rainforest and coastal wetlands. Visitors to the area can see the beautiful flowers of the rata, the yellow flowering Kowhai, nikau palms and podocarp forests.

Fox-Glacier-New-Zealand Fox Glacier

5. Hanmer Springs

Hanmer Springs is positioned within the Canterbury Region of the South Island. The town was built around the local hot spring which is the main attraction of the area, which as a consequence has a thriving tourism industry.

hanmer-springs-thermal-pools Source/Credit: Hamer Springs

Visitors should take advantage of one of the most natural forms of relaxation by giving your muscles relief. The warm springs waters will wash away all your stress - of that there is no doubt. After relaxing in the hot springs, why not spoil yourself and be pampered with a facial, or a full body massage.

6. Fiordland National Park

The Fiordland National Park has some of the most extraordinary and dramatic scenery to be found throughout the whole of New Zealand. The National Park is a World Heritage wilderness area and includes Milford Sound, Mitre Peak and Doubtful Sound amongst its many scenic attractions.

Mitre-Peak-New-Zealand Mitre Peak

Visitors can reach Fiordland on a full day trip from Queenstown. It's recommended though for visitors to base themselves at the small town of Te Anau which is the main centre for the whole Fiordland National Park. From Te Anau, its possible to reach Milford Sound in an short two and a half hour drive, or in 20 minutes if going to Manapouri, the start of the Doubtful Sound excursion.

7. Dunedin

Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula have a long and rich heritage with a genuine Scottish feel. The history of Dunedin began with the gold rush in the 1860's with many of its buildings dating back to the period which imparts a very Victorian and Edwardian influence no matter where you are in Dunedin.

Dunedin-Railway-Station Dunedin Railway Station

Dunedin also has what is possibly New Zealand's most photographed building, the Dunedin Railway Station. Built in a Flemish renaissance style with very distinctive Clock Tower featuring light and dark tiling and an intricate mosaic floor.

There's just so much to see and do in New Zealand be it a visit to the North or South Island, from Wellington, Auckland, Queenstown, Christchurch or the Milford sound. New Zealand really is a must visit destination for any traveler.

There is a great range of accommodation options in and around the South Island of New Zealand, so check out booking.com to secure the best rates around.

Sandra Hawkins

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