Best of New Zealand's South Island

Top itineraries and travel advice in and around South Island
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Fiordland National Park
Map of Highlights of New Zealand - 10 Days
Highlights of New Zealand - 10 Days

This action-packed itinerary dives into New Zealand's South and North Islands for a wide variety of landscapes and attractions. Kicking off in the adrenaline capital of the world, you'll kayak through the Milford Sound, explore the scenic capital (Wellington), take part in Rotorua's geothermal treatments, tour Hobbiton, and finish the adventure in the cosmopolitan city of Auckland.

Stunning view of Lake Tekapo on New Zealand's South Island
Map of Highlights of New Zealand: From North to South - 15 Days
Highlights of New Zealand: From North to South - 15 Days

Traverse New Zealand on this two-week adventure-packed trip, covering the highlights of North and South Island. Discover diverse landscapes, from world-class surfing beaches, volcanic islands, and fern forests to geothermal waters, glacial fiords, and imposing mountains. Along the way, you'll visit historic mining towns, go wine tasting and hike, paddle, and fly your way across the country.

Finish the trip in Queenstown for a slew of activities
Map of New Zealand's Ultimate Tour - 13 Days
New Zealand's Ultimate Tour - 13 Days

Perfect for first-timers, this 13-day itinerary covers an epic variety of landscapes and activities that only New Zealand could offer. Starting in Auckland, you'll head south passing through glowworm caves, natural mud baths, and famous film sets. Stay a few nights in Wellington before continuing to the South Island for the country's highest peaks, incredible natural wonders (like Milford Sound), and—if you so choose—a range of adrenaline sports to amp up this "Kiwi" adventure.

A beautiful view over a New Zealand Lake
Map of South Island Highlights & New Zealand Wines - 12 Days
South Island Highlights & New Zealand Wines - 12 Days

Travel through New Zealand's beautiful South Island, getting to know its cultural hotspots, famous landscapes and public gardens, and sprawling vineyards along the way. Over 12 days, you'll enjoy the cafes and fine art of Nelson, spend two days sipping wine in Marlborough, hike near beautiful Lake Wanaka and the famous Milford Sound, and more.

Fiordland National Park
Map of Best of New Zealand’s South Island - 10 Days
Best of New Zealand’s South Island - 10 Days

This 10-day road trip in the South Island combines the best New Zealand has to offer. Discover jaw-dropping scenery here, including Lake Tekapo and its turquoise waters, Mt. Cook and the surrounding glaciers, the peaks of Mt. Aspiring National Park and the magnificent fjords. You will also enjoy more intimate and off-the-beaten-path experiences, including the exploration of the Banks Peninsula, with its active wildlife setting, as well as immersing yourself in the historical gold rush of the small town of Clyde.

Reflection of Mount Cook on a hidden tarn in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park
Map of New Zealand Cities, Parks & Mountains - 12 Days
New Zealand Cities, Parks & Mountains - 12 Days

This 12-day tour features a perfect mix of adventure and relaxation. Explore New Zealand's cities, mountain landscapes, native bush, and beaches. Begin in Wellington working your way through parks and vineyards to Christchurch and to the mountains and fjords of Mount Cook and Milford Sound, ending your stay in Queenstown.

Lake Wanaka
Map of South Island Exploration: Christchurch, Akaroa, Lake Tekapo, Mt Cook, Wanaka, & Queenstown - 7 Days
South Island Exploration: Christchurch, Akaroa, Lake Tekapo, Mt Cook, Wanaka, & Queenstown - 7 Days

Spend seven days enjoying the best of the South Island of New Zealand. First, take in the popular sights of Christchurch and enjoy a mobile dinner via the Tram Restaurant. Then, visit Akaroa in the Banks Peninsula to get acquainted with the little blue penguins, followed by a trip to Lake Tekapo for a stargazing tour. Next, enjoy several scenic walks through Aoraki/Mount Cook and a trip to Wanaka to explore the highlights and Mt. Aspiring National Park. The vacation concludes in Queenstown with some wine tasting and final adventuring.

Moeraki Boulders
Map of New Zealand Self-Drive Tour: South Island, Southern Alps, & Wildlife - 7 Days
New Zealand Self-Drive Tour: South Island, Southern Alps, & Wildlife - 7 Days

In one week, enjoy an action-packed road trip through New Zealand's South Island. Begin in Christchurch to do some sightseeing. Then, explore the culture, wildlife and rock formations of Oamaru, the churches and cathedrals of Dunedin, and more. Tour native species along The Caitlins from different lookouts, followed by a full day of activities in Queenstown, from flying and cruising over the sounds and fjords to skydiving and bungee jumping over gorges and rivers.

Vineyards on Lake Wanaka
Map of South Island Tour: Queenstown, Te Anau, Wanaka, Akaroa, Christchurch, & More - 14 Days
South Island Tour: Queenstown, Te Anau, Wanaka, Akaroa, Christchurch, & More - 14 Days

With two weeks in New Zealand, there is plenty to discover on the South Island. Begin in Queenstown for some wine tasting, bungee jumping, scenic flights, and hot-pool soaks. Then, visit a glowworm cave in Te Anau, followed by hiking in Mt Aspiring National Park and more wine tasting in Wanaka. Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers are next, along with a stop at the Pancake Rocks in Punakaiki. Then, spend two days discovering Abel Tasman National Park, do more wine tasting in Blenheim, go sea kayaking in Akaroa, and wind down with a full day of sightseeing in Christchurch.

Mt. Cook
Map of New Zealand South Island Adventure - 5 Days
New Zealand South Island Adventure - 5 Days

On this five-day adventure through the South Island, explore four regions of New Zealand. Begin in Christchurch and go punting on the Avon River, followed by a ziplining excursion at the Adventure Park. Then, embark on several scenic walking tracks through the incredible terrain of Mount Cook National Park. Next, visit the town of Clyde for some sightseeing and wine tasting, followed by Queenstown for excursions like bungee jumping, skydiving, whitewater rafting, and more.

Akaroa
Map of South Island Tour: Christchurch, Akaroa, & Hanmer Springs - 5 Days
South Island Tour: Christchurch, Akaroa, & Hanmer Springs - 5 Days

Enjoy the outdoors of New Zealand's South Island on this quick, five-day trip. Begin in Christchurch and go punting on the Avon River, stroll Hagley Park, and zipline through the Adventure Park. Next, tour the Banks Peninsula, where time stands still. Discover the bays, villages, galleries, and cafés, as well as Akaroa, nestled in the heart of a volcano. Go swimming with Hector’s dolphins and view little blue penguins on a night tour. Then, head to Hanmer Springs for a therapeutic soak or two in the thermal pools, take a scenic hike, or go mountain biking along New Zealand High Country and Hanmer Forest Park.