An ornate castle, a scenic cycle ride and playful wildlife are some of the must-do experiences on the Discover the South Journey.

Relive the Victorian era

Step back in time in Oamaru's Victorian precinct, where you can see what life was like in the 1800s. Visit the fascinating Steampunk Playground and Museum(opens in new window), shop for antiques and traditional crafts, or sample some world-class whiskey. You may even be lucky enough to experience the annual Victorian Fete(opens in new window).

Cycle a historic rail trail

When it comes to New Zealand’s best cycle trails – the Otago Central Rail Trail led the way. Its the original 'Great Ride' and the locals think of it not so much as a trail, but an escape route for people who lead busy lives. The whole trail takes 4 days but can be split into shorter rides. Experienced operators(opens in new window) offer a range of half, full and multi day tours and great gear for hire.

Enjoy a dolphin encounter

Whether you want to swim with dolphins(opens in new window) or simply admire the playful marine mammals from the comfort of a cruise(opens in new window), there's no better place than Christchurch's Akaroa Harbour. Depart the historic French town for a cruise around an extinct volcanic crater and see how many dolphins, fur seals and penguins you can spot!

Explore New Zealand's only castle

Discover Victorian grandeur and intrigue with a visit to Australasia's only castle, Larnach Castle(opens in new window). Built by William Larnach in 1871 and lovingly restored since, the castle offers a fascinating look into Dunedin's history. Wander the award-winning gardens, enjoy high tea in the ballroom cafe or marvel at the sweeping views of Otago Peninsula from the tower. 

Hike through the wilderness

Experience New Zealand nature first-hand on a back-country trek in Queenstown. With panoramic views, native beech forest and views of the Southern Alps, it's the perfect place for a wilderness adventure. The three-hour Queenstown Hill Time Walk offers spectacular views while the slightly more challenging Ben Lomond track is definitely worth the effort.

Skip along the Moeraki Boulders

Weighing several tonnes and measuring up to two metres in height, the Moeraki Boulders can be found scattered across Koekohe Beach on the Otago Coast. Created about 65 million years ago, the unusal rock formations are easy to get to, fun to skip along and well worth a photo.

Take a heritage tram tour

With creativity and innovation blossoming among urban regeneration, Christchurch is a unique destination. Hop on the restored heritage tram(opens in new window) and learn about the local landmarks from your knowledgable driver before stopping at Christchurch Botanic Gardens, the Avon River or the Canterbury Museum(opens in new window).

Indulge in award-winning wine

Central Otago(opens in new window) is known for its Pinot Noir and what better way to sample the luscious Burgundy-style wines than by touring the region’s cellar doors or dining in vineyard restaurants(opens in new window).  Hire a bicycle(opens in new window) to explore the vineyard or collect the 4 Barrels Walking Wine Trail(opens in new window) map and enjoy the 8km lakeside loop, visiting four boutique cellar doors.

Pan for gold in Arrowtown

Learn about the Otago gold rush era and wander the tree-lined streets of Arrowtown, a living historic settlement just outside central Queenstown. Established in 1862, the charming town nestled among the mountains features heritage buildings, boutique shops and The Lakes District Museum - one of New Zealand's best small museums.

Encounter rare wildlife

From the endangered yellow-eyed penguin, to fur seals and sea lions, you will find an abundance of wildlife on Dunedin’s doorstep. Take a guided tour(opens in new window) of the Otago Peninsula for up-close encounters or head out to sea on a wildlife cruise(opens in new window) to spot royal albatross, sea birds and maybe even dolphins!

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