The South Island of New Zealand is renowned for its natural beauty, an untamed paradise dominated by a rugged and unspoilt landscape.
No need to forgo the comforts of civilisation though – South Islanders like to balance the wilderness of their surroundings with the best of fine food, wine and accommodation. Whatever your budget, there is a multitude of accommodation options scattered against the wild backdrop.
Outdoor adventure aficionados will find themselves well served in the South Island. In the north the theme is maritime. Sheltered coves invite exploration by kayak, while the forest nudging the beach is ideal for a scenic walk. In the northeast, Blenheim is the centre of a renowned wine producing region, while Kaikoura is a base for whale watching. Christchurch, where modern culture blends with historic atmosphere, is the largest city in the South Island.
Further south, the pretty picture-postcard Mackenzie region is dominated by mountains and blue lakes. In Otago’s lakeside resorts of Queenstown and Wanaka, you can dine in a world-class restaurant amidst a panorama of mountains. In winter, the ski areas offer fantastic skiing and snowboarding. Dunedin, the other major city of the South Island, is set on a harbour. This is a city with strong roots in the past: stately historic buildings, including New Zealand’s only castle, are a must-see.
Take a trip to Stewart Island, the smallest of New Zealand’s three major islands, where you can spend a day or plan a longer stay to allow time to explore this unique area and see the abundance of wildlife. To truly experience the untamed beauty of nature, any visit must include the West Coast. From Karamea in the north through to Fiordland in South Westland, in this extraordinary region you’ll be spellbound by the lush rainforests and exotic scenery.
Outdoor activities The South Island offers an unparalleled diversity of outdoor activities, from the relaxing to the extreme. You can ski at a world-class alpine resort, play golf, bungy jump, go rafting, mountain biking, wind surfing, whale watching or visit world-class wineries and gardens.
Extreme landscapes The South Island landscape is truly astounding! Particularly awe-inspiring features include the forest-fringed beaches of Nelson and Marlborough, the glaciers of South Westland, the lakes of Mackenzie Country and the majestic fiords and lakes of Fiordland.