South Island Highlights

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Prepare for a journey that will fill your memory with stunning landscapes, unique wildlife experiences and plenty of thrilling activities along the way.

Something new around every corner

Christchurch - Canterbury
Kaikoura Whale Watching, Christchurch - Canterbury

By @kiwivraverra

Nelson
Kayaking the Abel Tasman, Nelson

By @serenalisney

West Coast
Fox Glacier, West Coast

By @ruliak

Marlborough
Marlborough Sounds, Marlborough

By Mike Heydon

Christchurch - Canterbury
Stargazing in Lake Tekapo, Christchurch - Canterbury

By @jonah_montebello

Wanaka
Funyak on the Dart River, Wanaka

By @ejscreative

Queenstown
Ferg Burger, Queenstown

By @tobyandtamar

Fiordland
Fiordland waterfalls, Fiordland

By @__smeg

Christchurch - Canterbury

Christchurch - Canterbury

Kaikoura is known for mesmerising marine encounters.

Highlights

  • Whale watching and marine encounters
  • Catch and eat crayfish
  • Coastal walks

Kaikoura’s Top Attractions

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Nelson

Nelson

Among its many wonders is the Abel Tasman National Park.

Highlights

  • Abel Tasman Coastal Track
  • Sea kayaking
  • Stunning coastal scenery

Discover Abel Tasman National Park

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West Coast

West Coast

This is a region of untamed natural wilderness & glaciers.

Highlights

  • Punakaiki Pancake Rocks & Blowholes
  • Fox & Franz Josef glacier walks
  • Lake Matheson & Haast Pass

Top Attractions on the West Coast

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Marlborough

Marlborough

Savour world-class wines & fresh seafood in Marlborough.

Highlights

  • Wineries and restaurants
  • Marlborough Sounds
  • Queen Charlotte Track

Discover Top Things to Do in Marlborough

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Christchurch - Canterbury

Christchurch - Canterbury

Marvel at Lake Tekapo’s turquoise waters & clear skies.

Highlights

  • Glacial-fed turquoise lakes
  • Salmon Farm at Lake Pukaki
  • Stargazing

Recommended experiences in Lake Tekapo

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Wanaka

Wanaka

This alpine wonderland is every outdoor enthusiast’s dream.

Highlights

  • Mount Aspiring National Park
  • Hiking and tramping
  • Water skiing & wake boarding

Discover Wanaka’s Top Attractions

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Queenstown

Queenstown

Home of THE ultimate adventure bucket list & a great vibe.

Highlights

  • Skydive, bungy, jet boating
  • Soak in hot pools
  • Best burgers in town – Fergburger

Top Attractions in Queenstown

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Fiordland

Fiordland

A hiking paradise & home to the world-famous Milford Sound.

Highlights

  • Milford and Doubtful Sound
  • Milford, Kepler & Routeburn Tracks
  • Scenic flights

Top Attractions in Fiordland

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Plan this trip

  • Getting around New Zealand

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  • What you need to know about New Zealand

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  • Find somewhere to stay

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From golden beaches and whale watching in the north to adrenaline-pumping activities and serene fiords in the south, this trip covers the best of New Zealand’s South Island.

Your adventure begins in Kaikoura, a couple of hours drive north of Christchurch. This small coastal settlement is home to grand marine encounters. Keep your cameras handy as you come up, close to giant whales, friendly dolphins and baby seals. From here, travel west to Nelson to explore the sun-kissed coastline of the Abel Tasman National Park by foot or kayak. Indulge in world-famous wines and fresh seafood in Marlborough before continuing your journey to the centre of South Island – Lake Tekapo. Glacial-fed turquoise lakes and star-lit night skies – the best in the world to stargaze – are the highlights of this region.

On the west, ‘the Coast’ as the locals call it is a part of the country that can only be described by superlatives. From the drama of ancient pancake rocks to walking on glaciers and amidst mountainous national parks, West Coast is an outdoor playground unlike any other.

Yet another scenic alpine drive south takes you to the resort town of Wanaka. The gateway to Mount Aspiring National Park, Lake Wanaka has an easy vibe and adventure activities galore.

Then gear yourself up for Queenstown! It’s impossible to cover everything there is to do in “the adventure capital of New Zealand”, but here’s a start: bungy, jet boating, skydiving, hiking or simply kicking back and soaking in the majestic views from the comfort of a hot pool. Fiordland is a relaxing contrast to the go-go-go of Queenstown. Unwind on a cruise to the Milford Sound or, if you’re up for a sublime adventure, try kayaking. This pristine region is also home to three of New Zealand’s Great Walks – some of the best multi-day hikes in the world.

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