Welcome to South Island


Wandering Wild

With just over a million people scattered across 151,215 sq km, you'll have no trouble finding your own slice of wilderness on New Zealand's 'mainland'. The only problem will be choosing between the sublime forests, mountains, lakes, beaches and fiords that make this island one of the best outdoor destinations on the planet. Lace up your boots and tackle one of the South Island’s six Great Walks, or choose from countless other options ranging from short nature strolls to multiday, backcountry epics. The Department of Conservation's track and hut network makes it easy to find a way in.

Adventure Ahoy

Hiking (known as 'tramping' here) may be the South Island's quintessential activity, but there are racier ways to immerse yourself in its landscapes. Tumble down the Buller or Rangitata Rivers in a raft, or paddle the glassy coves of the Marlborough Sounds, Abel Tasman National Park or Fiordland. In winter, slice up the slopes around Wanaka, Queenstown or Mt Hutt, while in warmer weather the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail and Central Otago Rail Trail beckon to those on two wheels. For the hardcore thrill-seekers, Queenstown's gravity-defying menu of bungy, paragliding or skydiving is sure to get your adrenalin pumping.

Tantalise Your Tastebuds

Epicurious travellers will delight in the South Island's smorgasbord of seasonal produce, from luscious berries, stone fruit, asparagus and root vegetables, to local seafood, lamb, beef and a plethora of artisanal dairy delights. Roadside kiosks sell everything from farm eggs to grandma's tomato relish, while world-class regional restaurants skim the cream of local crops for innovative tasting menus. Add some of the world's best cool-climate wines, from Central Otago's superb pinot noir to Marlborough's renowned sauvignon blanc, as well as some of the most exciting craft breweries in the country, and you have a recipe for a foodies' paradise.

Meet the Locals

Prepare to meet the South Island’s idiosyncratic wildlife. Whales, fur seals, dolphins and penguins all frequent the coastal waters around Kaikoura; endangered Hector’s dolphins cavort alongside penguins in Akaroa Harbour and the Catlins; and the Otago Peninsula shelters penguins, sea lions and even a colony of royal albatrosses. Further south, remote Stewart Island is the perfect place to spot the iconic but shy kiwi, alongside a profusion of other feathered friends. The South Island is also home to two special parrots, the kaka and the kea – the latter is particularly partial to car aerials and unattended tramping boots.


Top experiences in South Island

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South Island activities

$162.01 Day Trips & Excursions

Fiordland National Park, Milford Sound Cruise from Queenstown

Upon entering the Fiordland National Park, the largest National Park in NZ, travel up along side the Eglington River to three mountain lakes at the head of the Eglington Valley. During this part of the journey you will make the first of our many sightseeing stops that also allow for some great photo opportunities. You have a couple of different locations for lunch and will endeavor to select the best spot on the day. With some fantastic walks in the area, this is a great opportunity to experience the beautiful alpine forest up close. After lunch you head towards the Homer Tunnel, taking in some incredible mountain views while driving along side the crystal clear waters of the Hollyford river. Once through the Homer Tunnel, you'll wind the way down the Cleddau Valley. At this time you arrive in an area called Fiordland but are visiting a "Sound", the difference will be explained. You link up with a scenic cruise for a 1hour and 45 minute excursion on the fjord. The barbecue lunch includes a classic Kiwi BBQ of marinated lamb kebabs, chicken kebabs and sausages, a good range of salads, fresh bread and fruit juice. Vegetarian patties are available on request. Please be sure to specify any dietary requirements at the time of booking. Important Note: During the months of May to October and the Early Bird Summer departures the itinerary for this tour will be modified. In place of the BBQ lunch enroute to Milford Sound, the tour will include a full scenic cruise with a BBQ lunch on board the cruise boat. Important Note: Please be aware that this is a full day excursion (up to 13 hours for our Summer tours) due to road distances.

$51.71 Food, Wine & Nightlife

Queenstown Skyline Gondola and Restaurant

The Stratosfare Restaurant and Bar is located on Bob's Peakat Skyline, perched high above the resort town of Queenstown in the beautiful Southern Lakes region of New Zealand's South Island. From the gondola base, located within a 10-minute walk from downtown Queenstown, you'll ride the Gondola to the restaurant. Take in the breathtaking panoramic views from Coronet Peak to Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu, the Remarkables and surrounding mountains. At the Stratosfare Restaurant and Bar, enjoy a mouthwatering four-course buffet lunch or six-course buffet dinner that offers the very best of New Zealand’s local produce. Feast on South Island salmon, seafood, salads roast meats and delicious desserts.Complete your dining experience with a drink in the fully licensed bar (at own expense) before boarding the gondola for your round-trip to the gondola base.Christmas Day:Christmas day lunch and dinner includes a round-trip gondola ride, Christmas themed buffet, live entertainment, two luge rides and an appearance from Santa. Christmas dinner has two sitting times to choose from. Please note the Kiwi Haka is closed on Christmas.New Year's Eve:New Year's Eve dinner includes a round-trip gondola ride, NYE festive themed buffet and live entertainment, two luge rides. NYE dinner has two sitting times to choose from. Please note the Kiwi Haka is not included.

$330.23 Outdoor Activities

Franz Josef Helicopter Flight and Glacier Hike

Choose from four different morning departure times to suit your schedule, then head to the centrally located tour base in Franz Josef to meet your guide. Wrap up against the elements with the protective jacket, trousers, hats, gloves and leather boots provided, and don’t forget to grab your crampons! When you’re fully kitted out, head to your helicopter and start your journey with a short flight up onto the Franz Josef Glacier.Enjoy breathtaking views of the glacier and surrounding area from your vantage point high in the sky, then land gently on the glacier and set off with your guide. An amazing sight to behold, there are forests of ice formations jutting out at different angles from the mighty glacier .Follow your experienced guide through the maze of ice as you explore the magnificent natural landscape. Discover first-hand the dramatic environmental changes that are affecting the glacier and gain insight into the amazing geological forces at play.At the conclusion of your glacier hike, return to Franz Josef by helicopter and relax with a soak in the Glacier Hot Pools. Nestled in a lush rainforest on the edge of town, the hot pools are fed by pure glacier water. Sit back, relax and rejuvenate your muscles in the soothing water — the perfect way to end the day in style!

$182.70 Cruises, Sailing & Water Tours

Doubtful Sound Wilderness Cruise from Te Anau

You'll be picked up from your Te Anau hotel and travel to Lake Manapouri to West Arm. You'll board a coach and cross over the 670-meter high Wilmot Pass. You'll stop here to view Doubtful Sound far below. Your journey continues to Deep Cove where you'll board a spacious catamaran for a three-hour Doubful Sound Wilderness Cruise that takes in the most dramatic scenery of Doubtful Sound. The skipper will provide detailed commentary and point out highlights. Ten times larger than Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound is an unspoiled wilderness of many moods, one minute clear, blue and sun drenched, the next mysterious and mist shrouded. A wild place of dense rainforest, rugged peaks, cascading waterfalls and deep still waters quiet, serene and green. Keep a look out for wildlife as bottlenose dolphins frequently come alongside the vessel, fur seals bask on the rocks around the fiord and rare penguins can at times be observed.

$120.65 Shore Excursions

Dunedin Shore Excursion: Taieri Gorge Railway and City Tour

After being collected from Dunedin port and taken to the grand Dunedin Railway Station, built in an elaborate ‘gingerbread’ style in 1906, board the legendary Taieri Gorge Railway.New Zealand’s longest tourist railway, the Taieri Gorge Railway takes you on a four-hour journey from Dunedin to Pukerangi, a distance of 28 miles (45 km). Traveling in a historic wooden train carriage, you’ll follow the course of the Taieri River, passing through almost a dozen tunnels and climbing the edge of the steep-sided Taieri Gorge.You’ll also cross century-old wrought-iron viaducts with magnificent views of the surrounding countryside, and enjoy several photo stops to capture the spectacular panoramas.Returning to Dunedin, enjoy a stop for lunch (own expense) before joining a coach for a scenic two-hour city sightseeing tour at 2pm.While listening to informative onboard commentary detailing the city’s history, travel past Otago University, New Zealand’s first university, and see how the scenically hilly city surrounds a volcanic bay, looking onto the Otago Peninsula. Plus, visit the world's steepest street! Your sightseeing tour also takes in the city's neo-Gothic churches, town hall, opulent theaters, imposing banks and other 19th-century buildings. Then admire the beautifully landscaped trees and plants of the Dunedin Botanical Gardens and the spectacular views of the Otago Peninsula & Harbour before being returned to the Dunedin port.Worry-free Shore Excursion:We will ensure your excursion ends with ample time for you to return to the Dunedin port for your ship’s departure. In the extremely unlikely event your ship has departed, we will arrange for transportation to the next port-of-call. If your ship is delayed and you are unable to attend this activity, your money will be refunded. See our terms and conditions for full details.

$165.46 Day Trips & Excursions

Milford Sound 12.5-Hour Coach Tour and Cruise from Queenstown

Take an unforgettable journey into the heart of Milford Sound, New Zealand's most famous tourist destination. You'll experience the world-famous fiord in all its natural glory – surrounded by dense rainforest, glacier-carved valleys and beautiful waterfalls. Leaving Queenstown, travel in comfort along the shores of Lake Wakatipu and into southern farmland to Lake Te Anau, the largest lake in the South Island. After a morning tea stop (own expense), travel along the lake and into Fiordland National Park. Enter the picturesque Eglinton Valley, a place of ancient alpine forest and gushing waterfalls and one of only a few road-accessible glacier valleys in New Zealand, and take advantage of the photo opportunities on offer along the Milford Road, like the stunning Mirror Lakes, where on a calm day the surrounding mountain ranges are perfectly reflected in the still waters, and Knobs Flat, where glaciers have carved their mark on the terrain. Your glass-roof coach will provide amazing views of the dramatic skyline as you cross the Main Divide of the Southern Alps, with stunning mountain peaks all around. Stop at Monkey Creek and sample some of the purest water in the world (but watch out for cheeky kea - native mountain parrots!). Travel under the mountains through the Homer Tunnel, a 1.2km passageway drilled into solid rock, then experience The Chasm, a short but impressive walk over footbridges spanning a series of powerful, swirling waterfalls and rapids. At Milford Sound, board your 1 hour 45 minute cruise and travel the length of the fiord and out to the Tasman Sea, gliding past glacier-scarred rock walls and waterfalls that tumble into the sea. Lush native forest clings to steep cliffs, while wildlife including seals, penguins and dolphins are regular visitors to the icy waters. Your cruise will take place on the newest and most luxurious cruise ship in Milford Sound. This impressive three-level catamaran has extensive outdoor decks so you can get up close to nature. Inside you'll find comfortable seating as well as unique glass roofs and HD screens projecting live outdoor footage, so you won't miss a thing. A gourmet buffet lunch featuring fresh local ingredients will be served on board (included in your tour). Along the way your captain will provide lively and informative commentary. Translation sheets are provided in Japanese, German, Spanish, French, Korean and Mandarin.