Photo: Destination Queenstown

 

The South Island

The South Island is a magical land where the air is pure and the lakes an unearthly shade of blue, watched over by mountains cloaked in forest.

From forest-fringed beaches to soaring mountains, the scenery of the South Island is an unforgettable backdrop to adrenaline-pumping adventure and indulgent relaxation. But did you know that in addition to its famous landscapes, the South Island is also home to rich cultural heritage and fascinating cities? You’ll find beach life, maritime pursuits and relaxation in the north in Abel Tasman and the Malborough Sounds. Further south, Kaikoura is a base for incredible wildlife encounters. Christchurch, where modern culture blends with historic atmosphere, is the South Island’s largest city. The picture-postcard Mackenzie region is dominated by mountains and lakes, and in world-famous adventure capital Queenstown and Wanaka, you can ski before dinner at a world-class restaurant amid a panorama of mountains. Dunedin, the other major city of the South Island, is set on a harbour, and offers access to both historic cultural experiences and the amazing wildlife of the Otago Peninusla. 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 rugged scenery.

Get ready for the trip of a lifetime – the South Island’s diversity is awe inspiring.

Photo: Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism

Christchurch & Canterbury

Christchurch and Canterbury is a region of contradictions and contrasts, from stately heritage buildings and picture-perfect gardens to unforgettable outdoor adventures. Christchurch City, the largest city in the South Island, is the gateway to the Canterbury region. Fondly known as the ‘Garden City’, Christchurch is one of the nation’s most beautiful and cultured cities with its expansive gardens, grand stone buildings and excellent shopping opportunities.

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Photo: Destination Queenstown

Queenstown

It’s the soul-touching, ‘anything is possible’ atmosphere in a region of unrivalled scenic diversity that gives Queenstown its edge. Add to this the endless action-packed itineraries, untold leisure and pampering options, and some of the world’s best wine and food, and you couldn’t find a more inspiring resort town. First-timers are continually awed by Queenstown and visitors find themselves wondering how they can feel challenged and relaxed all at the same time.

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Photo: Destination Marlborough

Marlborough

Situated in the northeast corner of the South Island, the Marlborough region encompasses the lush forests and inlets of the Marlborough Sounds as well as the drier plains around Blenheim. Picton, northern gateway to the region, is a pretty town at the head of the magnificent Queen Charlotte Sound. This is where ferries arrive from Wellington in the North Island. Good restaurants and a range of accommodation options make it an ideal base for relaxation or adventure activities.

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Photo: Nelson Tasman Tourism

Nelson

Situated in the northwest corner of the South Island, the Nelson region is a place where nature shows no restraint. Golden sand beaches meet sparkling turquoise water in bays sheltered by lush native forest. Nelson’s abundant sunshine and beautiful landscapes draw those seeking a laidback lifestyle and authentic cultural experiences. Explore art and craft galleries showcasing the creations of those inspired by the beautiful surroundings.

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Photo: West Coast Tourism

West Coast

In an increasingly developed and hectic world, the West Coast of the Southern Alps remains one of the world’s special places. Famed as New Zealand’s pioneer heartland, the West Coast is vast and rugged, characterised by dramatic landscapes and rich human history. Within the 550 kilometre-long region – no wider than 70 kilometres at any point – the mountains look closer, the lakes clearer, the rivers larger and faster, and the forests more lush than anywhere else in the country.

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Photo: Whale Watch Kaikoura

Kaikoura & Hanmer Springs

From a coastal playground with unforgettable marine wildlife and forested mountains to a picturesque alpine spa resort and vineyard-draped valleys, the Alpine Pacific Touring Route invites exploration.

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Photo: Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism

Mackenzie & South Canterbury

The Mackenzie is one of New Zealand’s most refreshing and energising areas to visit. The region is an extraordinary scenic highland that extends from Fairlie, just two and a half hours’ drive south of Christchurch, to the township of Twizel, which is two and a half hours north of Queenstown. Incredibly clear starry nights, brilliant sunny days, remarkable turquoise blue lakes, valleys of emerald green, snow-capped mountains and glaciers contribute to a truly breathtaking experience.

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Photo: Tourism Dunedin

Dunedin & Costal Otago

In the far southeast of the South Island, Dunedin is a fascinating city that invites lingering exploration. Nineteenth-century stone architecture forms a dignified backdrop to a sophisticated modern culture, and the student population in this university city adds a colourful and vibrant element to local culture. From world-class museums and galleries, to fantastic shopping and unparalleled wildlife experiences, Dunedin is an essential destination for any visitor.

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Photo: Venture Southland

Southland & Stewart Island

Southland is an unspoilt land of contrast. Situated in the far south of New Zealand’s South Island, the region offers breathtaking scenery, from pristine waterfalls and rugged coastlines to windswept emerald green hills, combined with wonderful southern hospitality. Invercargill is the region’s cosmopolitan hub. Art galleries showcase local talent, while cafés and bars provide delectable cuisine and entertainment.

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Photo: Lake Wanaka Tourism

Wanaka

Lake Wanaka is beautiful in any season – the fresh greens of spring; long, sunny summer days; the rich golds of autumn; and clear, frosty winters. Sunny summer days are spent on the waterfront and walking in the mountains, while skiers and snowboarders flock to the town in winter to make the most of the top ski areas right around the corner.

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Photo: Destination Fiordland

Fiordland & Te Anau

This dramatic land of rivers, lakes, mountains and forests was carved thousands of years ago as glacial rivers ground valleys out of granite mountains and inched their way to the Tasman Sea. Today, water still dominates the landscape as one of the highest rainfalls in the world transforms mountains and forests into spectacular waterfalls, tumbling pristine rivers and precious bogmires that contain unique and endangered flora and fauna.

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