11 Must do experiences in the South Island

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Aoraki / Mt Cook

Aoraki / Mt Cook is New Zealand's highest peak and possibly the most picturesque part of the country.  Experience this beauty on foot wandering the easy Hooker Valley Track, enjoy a birds eye view of the area from the air or take to the surrounding turquoise waters by boat. While you are here, don't miss a visit to the Mt John Observatory where you will witness the clear and vast starlit skies of the world's largest Dark Sky Reserve. Day or night, from up close to views across the water, this mountain takes our top spot for South Island experiences.

Nugget Point, Otago Coast

The dramatic Nugget Point is one of the most iconic coastlines of the South Island, but is surprisingly quiet.  This steep headland surrounded by a scattering of rocky islets, or "The Nuggets", is the entrance to the lush Catlins area filled with waterfalls, native forest, unique coastlines and plenty of marine wildlife including the playful seals lolling about and having fun in the rock pools of Nugget Point.  Easily accessible by a short 5 min track from the road, Nugget Point is 1.5 hours south of Dunedin.

Omarama Hot Tubs, Waitaki

Soaking in pure mountain water heated to perfection as you sip on local wines and enjoy the view, what could be better?  From your very own sanctuary tucked away in the tussocks with daytime views across a small lake to the mountain ranges or enjoy an evening sunset then lay back and breathe in the magic starscape of the Milky Way above you, Omarama is the perfect place to relax and refresh yourself for the adventures to come.

Fiordland National Park

Fiordland is, for many, the most memorable place in New Zealand. The Fiordland National Park, an UNESCO World Heritage site, features the majestic Milford and Doubtful Sounds which you can experience by boat, air or on foot.  But be warned, you will stop every 5 minutes to photograph this stunning area. Fiordland National Park is best accessed through picturesque town of Te Anau.

Marlborough Sounds by bike

The picturesque Marlborough Sounds boasts 20% of New Zealand's total coastline and the world-famous Sauvignon Blanc. Marlborough is also one of the best places to explore by bike; cycle between vineyards or take to one of the coastal ridge tracks to admire the view and keep your eyes open for playful marine wildlife frolicking in the waters.  

Christchurch Street Art Trail

The vibrant city of Christchurch is the perfect place to start your South Island Journey.  But before you hit the road make sure you spend some time soaking up the creative vibe of this city.  Grab a Flat White from one of the many eclectic cafes and wander the city streets to admire the creative art that meets you around every corner.

Adventure in Queenstown

The stunning lakeside resort of Queenstown is the Adventure Capital of New Zealand.  Here you can find thrills for any adrenalin seeker.  From the iconic bungy jumping and jet boating, to quad biking, white water rafting, river surfing, sky diving and canyon swings... there is something for everyone!


Mt Aspiring National Park, Wanaka

Fom soaring mountains to tranquil river flats, glaciers and turquoise lakes exploring the Mount Aspiring National Park wilderness is an unforgettable experience. This World Heritage area is easily accessible from Wanaka and has activities for all outdoor enthusiasts; wander, climb, jet boat, take in views from the air or even swim. There are plenty of options to enjoy… choosing where to start is the hardest part.

Wineries, Central Otago

Affectionately called ‘Central’ by those that know it, Central Otago is breathtakingly different with vast undulating landscapes, rugged snow-capped mountains, clear blue rivers, deep gorges and tussock-clad hills.  The gem of this area is the multitude of award-winning wineries.  Meet the wine-makers, stroll or bike through the vines, or simply savour some of the renown Pinot Noir as you indulge in fine food in an incredible setting.  Find a plethora of vineyards just 1 hour from Queenstown.

Hokitika Gorge, West Coast

If you are looking for a truly spectacular stop on you South Island journey make sure you check out the Hokitika Gorge. Sometimes you see photos of a tourist spot and think yeah right, it can’t look as good as that in real life. The Hokitika Gorge is one of those places. The vivid turquoise water surrounded by lush native bush looks too good to be true but trust us, it is well worth a visit. The Hokitika Gorge is 33kms from Hokitika on the West Coast.

Nin’s Bin, Kaikoura

Nin's Bin has been a favourite stop for Kiwis heading up the coast from Christchurch for years.  Serving up freshly cooked crayfish and Green Lipped Mussels, this local hot spot is worth the stop!  Take time to relax on the beach or have a chat with the manager, Rodney Clark, the son of Ronald Clark who first started the caravan in the 70's, he's only too happy to tell you all about the history of the place and share some of the local stories.  You can find Nin's Bin about 20km north of Kaikoura on State Highway 1. 

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