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 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.

Larnach Castle, Dunedin

Discover Victorian grandeur and intrigue with a visit to Australasia's only castle. Built by William Larnach in 1871, the castle and its creator offer a fascinating look into Dunedin's history. Boasting a 3,000 square foot ballroom, a tower with sweeping views of the Otago Peninsula and stunning Victorian style gardens, Larnach Castle is a must-do. Soak up the atmosphere and stay for high tea, hosted each day at 3pm.

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, enjoy the daytime views across a small lake to the mountain ranges or experience an evening sunset 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.

Explore the Marlborough Sounds

The picturesque Marlborough Sounds boasts 1,500km of New Zealand coastline. Home to secluded bay, historic sites, marine reserves and precious island sanctuaries, which foster kiwi and other native species. Cruise or kayak your way through the Sounds, spotting the wildlife along the way. Starting at Ship Cove, walk or cycle bush clad ridgelines to admire the view from the Queen Charlotte Track.

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 33km from Hokitika on the West Coast.

Kaikoura

The name Kaikoura literally means 'to eat crayfish', something for which the town has become famous. However, delicious seafood is just one reason that makes Kaikoura a must-do. With its array of unique wildlife, there are plenty of opportunities to get up close to some of the country's friendliest animals. Encounter marine giants aboard a whale-watching cruise, swim with dolphins or take a Seal Kayaking tour for an unforgettable wildlife encounter.

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