Top things to do

Top ChoiceLake in Queenstown

Lake Wakatipu

Shaped like a cartoon lightning bolt, Lake Wakatipu is NZ's third-largest lake. It reaches a depth of 372m, meaning the lake bed actually sits below sea level. Five rivers flow into it but only one (the Kawarau)...

Top ChoiceNational Park in Arthur's Pass

Arthur's Pass National Park

Arthur's Pass National Park

Straddling the Southern Alps, known to Māori as Ka Tiritiri o Te Moana (Steep Peak of Glistening White), this vast alpine wilderness became the South Island's first national park in 1929. Of its 1144 sq km,...

Top ChoiceBird Sanctuary in Oamaru

Blue Penguin Colony

Blue Penguin Colony

Every evening the tykes from the Ōamaru blue penguin colony surf in and wade ashore, heading to their nests in an old stone quarry near the waterfront. Stands are set up on either side of the waddle route....

Top ChoiceIsland in Ruby Coast & Moutere Hills

Moturoa/Rabbit Island

With a Māori name that translates as 'Long Island', this low-lying expanse forms an 8km-long barrier to the ocean with a gorgeous sandy beach spread along its entire length. A pine plantation forest provides...

Top ChoiceWildlife Reserve in Otago Peninsula

Nature’s Wonders Naturally

Nature’s Wonders Naturally

What makes the improbably beautiful beaches of this coastal sheep farm different from other important wildlife habitats is that (apart from pest eradication and the like) they're left completely alone. Many of...

Top ChoiceWildlife Reserve in Stewart Island (Rakiura)

Ulva Island

A tiny paradise covering only 269 hectares, Ulva Island / Te Wharawhara is a great place to see lots of native birds. Established as a bird sanctuary in 1922, it remains one of Stewart Island/Rakiura’s wildest...

Top ChoiceMuseum in Blenheim

Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre

When Sir Peter Jackson has a passion for something, there are no half measures. That's abundantly clear in the 'Knights of the Sky' exhibition, which features the movie director's personal collection of WWI...

Top ChoiceNatural Feature in Collingwood & Around

Farewell Spit

Bleak, exposed and positively sci-fi, Farewell Spit is a wetland of international importance and a renowned bird sanctuary – the summer home of thousands of migratory waders, notably the godwit, Caspian tern and...

Top ChoiceMuseum in Invercargill

Transport World

A kingdom of shiny chrome lies beyond the doors of Transport World, touted as the largest private automotive museum on the planet. Across 15,000 sq metres of warehouse space you'll find classic cars, hulking...

Top ChoiceHouse in Dunedin

Olveston

Although it's a youngster by European standards, this spectacular 1906 mansion provides a wonderful window into Dunedin's past. Entry is via fascinating one-hour guided tours; it pays to book ahead. There's also...

Top ChoiceArea in Oamaru

Victorian Precinct

Victorian Precinct

Consisting of only a couple of blocks centred on Harbour and Tyne Sts, this atmospheric enclave has some of NZ’s best-preserved Victorian commercial buildings. Descend on a dark and foggy night and it's downright...

Top ChoiceGardens in Christchurch

Botanic Gardens

Botanic Gardens

Strolling through these 30 blissful riverside hectares of arboreal and floral splendour is a consummate Christchurch experience. Gorgeous at any time of the year, the gardens are particularly impressive in spring...

Top ChoiceSpring in Takaka

Te Waikoropupū Springs

Te Waikoropupū Springs

Around 14,000L of water per second bubble up from underground vents here, making it the largest freshwater spring in the southern hemisphere. It's also among the clearest in the world. The colourful little lake...

Top ChoiceNatural Feature in Punakaiki & Paparoa National Park

Pancake Rocks

Punakaiki's claim to fame is Dolomite Point, where a layering-weathering process called stylobedding has carved the limestone into what looks like piles of thick pancakes. Aim for high tide (tide timetables are...

Top ChoiceGardens in Akaroa

Giant’s House

An ongoing labour of love by local artist Josie Martin, this whimsical garden is really one giant artwork, a combination of sculpture and mosaics that cascades down a hillside above Akaroa. Echoes of Gaudí and...

Top ChoiceShopping Centre in Christchurch

Tannery

In a city mourning the loss of its heritage, this post-earthquake conversion of a 19th-century tannery couldn't be more welcome. The Victorian buildings have been beautifully restored, and are crammed with all...

Top ChoiceMuseum in Dunedin

Toitū Otago Settlers Museum

Storytelling is the focus of this excellent interactive museum, which traces the history of human settlement ion the South Island. Pass through the new albatross waharoa (entranceway) by master carver James York...

Top ChoiceNatural Feature in Kaka Point & Around

Nugget Point

Reach one of the South Island's most jaw-dropping coastal lookouts via the 900m Nugget Point (Tokatā) walkway. Wave-thrashed cliffs give way abruptly to sapphire waters dotted with toothy islets known as the...

Top ChoiceBeach in Collingwood & Around

Wharariki Beach

This remote, dramatically beautiful beach is a magnificent introduction to the West Coast, with a seal colony at its eastern end and otherworldly rock formations scattered about including, just offshore, the...

Top ChoiceCafe in Papatowai & Around

Whistling Frog

Colourful and fun, the Frog is the best dining option in the Catlins, offering craft beer on tap and crowd-pleasing meals, often garnished with flowers from the garden. We're talking seafood chowder, wood-fired...