Places to See: South Island, New Zealand

The South Island (Te Waipounamu) is the bigger of New Zealand’s two major islands and is well-known for its spectacular natural scenery, with a plethora of breathtaking glaciers, mountains, and lakes. Perhaps you’re asking now, “What’s the difference between the two islands?” The North Island (Te Ika-a-Maui) has a higher concentration of Maori culture and geothermal marvels, whilst the South Island is mostly filled with harsh terrain and exhilarating experiences!

Places to See: South Island, New Zealand
via Wikimedia Commons/Krzysztof Golik

The snow-sprinkled mountains, golden beaches and bucket-list activities make this place a must see. If you’re thinking of planning a visit to the South Island, our succinct guide is here to help. From the best time to track to activities you cannot miss, we have covered it all.

Let’s go!

Best time to travel

Winter lasts from June to September, with temperatures ranging from below freezing to 50F, while summer lasts from December to March, with temperatures averaging 60F to 78F.. Because of New Zealand’s southern latitude, summer days are lengthy, with the sun sinking about 9 p.m. In the winter, it can set as early as 5 p.m.

Places to See: South Island, New Zealand
via Wikimedia Commons/Krzysztof Golik

The best time to visit South Island depends on the activities you’d like to do. For adventures such as skiing, we recommend visiting during peak winter. For spring and summer friendly activities, you might want to plan your trip for  January to March. 

How To Get There  

via Wikimedia Commons/Daniel Elias

Whether you’re traveling to a specific destination or intend to circle the island, Christchurch city’s central position makes it an ideal starting point. Flights to Christchurch are often less expensive — and more reliable — than flights to the island’s other international airports such as Queenstown and Dunedin in the south. After this you can take a flight, a bus or a rental car to the South Island.

What to do when you’re in South Island

On foot, take in the splendor of Aoraki/Mount Cook. Wander the simple Hooker Valley Track or one of the numerous constructed and well-marked routes that start near Aoraki/Mount Cook Village.

via Wikimedia Commons/Michal Klajban

Stewart Island has the biggest and most diversified bird population in New Zealand. You may go birdwatching here and observe kk, albatross, penguins, weka, and even kiwis while walking. With over 240 kilometers of walking trails, you may explore the beaches and rainforests at your leisure, or join one of the numerous tour companies to uncover the island’s hidden jewels.

You Shouldn’t Miss…

The Hokitika Gorge

Places to See: South Island, New Zealand
via Wikimedia Commons/Stewart Nimmo / Development West Coast

Located 33 kilometres west of Hokitika on the West Coast, it is one of those places that looks just as good in photos as it does in person. The vibrant turquoise water surrounded by lush native bush appears too good to be true, but believe us when we say it is well worth a visit. Take a tour with Hokitika Gorge Tours or Explore West Coast to access some unique and secret sites.

Milford Sounds

Places to See: South Island, New Zealand
via Wikimedia Commons/Krzysztof Golik

Milford Sounds was carved by glaciers over a thousand years ago. The extraordinary marine life and steep cliffs make it a place to witness atleast once in a lifetime.

You’ll Love South Island If…

You love backpacking

It’s an excellent backpacking location since everything is conveniently accessible, plus the landscape makes it perfect for road excursions! Furthermore, there are so many things to do on the South Island that you will never be bored!

You love street art 

Places to See: South Island, New Zealand
via Wikimedia Commons/Bernard Spragg. NZ

Go on a street-art trail in Christchurch. New Zealand is famous for its murals, the streets of Christchurch are its epitome.

You love fine wine 

Central Otago is right out of a fairytale. While you soak in the scenery of snow-capped mountains and pristine rivers, visit wineries.

Look out for


South Island offers a variety of kayaking options where you can get up and personal with nature’s animals as well as its magnificent coastline formations in clear subtropical seas. Some of the greatest sites to do it are Nelson Lakes National Park, Lake Tekapo, and Abel Tasman National Park, to name a few.

Bungee Jumping adventures

There are over a dozen locations in South Island perfect for bungee jumping. For discounts, you can book your tickets beforehand.

Bicycle journeys

Explore South Island on bike trails.

Guided tours

There are numerous options to explore the area with guided tours, available both online and on-spot.

Are vou ready to pack your bags and head to this divine destination?

If you liked our guide on South Island, you will also like to explore Los Cabos in Mexico after reading this guide.

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