12 Fun And Exciting Things To Do In South Island, New Zealand

things to do in south island nz

Are you looking for an adventure that will take you to breathtaking landscapes, unique attractions, and thrilling activities? Then look no further than South Island, New Zealand! From majestic mountains to lush green fields, this area of the world is full of wonders, and there are plenty of amazing things to do. Here are 12 fun and exciting things to do in South Island, New Zealand that will leave you with unforgettable memories. From skiing on the slopes of the Southern Alps to exploring the depths of Milford Sound, you're sure to have a blast!

Characteristic Tips
Natural Beauty Pack your hiking boots and camera to explore the diverse landscapes and take in the breathtaking views
Adventure Sports Try bungee jumping, skydiving, and jet boating for a rush of adrenaline
Wildlife Visit the local wildlife sanctuaries to get up close and personal with New Zealand’s native birds and animals
Local Cuisine Sample some of the delicious local produce and sample some of the local delicacies
Cultural Heritage Visit some of the area’s many museums and galleries to learn more about the region’s history and culture
Shopping Take some time to explore the local markets for unique souvenirs and gifts


Milford Sound

Source: New Zealand
Characteristic Description
NameMilford Sound / Piopiotahi
Rating / Review count4.8 / 1,950

The journey to Milford Sound is an adventure in itself. From Queenstown, the drive takes approximately four and a half hours, with plenty of stops along the way to take in the stunning views. Once visitors arrive at the Sound, they can take a cruise to experience the full beauty of the fjord, or go kayaking or hiking in the surrounding area.

The Milford Sound experience is truly awe-inspiring. Its stunningly beautiful landscapes, made up of towering cliffs, cascading waterfalls and lush rainforest, are something that must be seen to be believed. Visitors to the Sound can also spot a range of wildlife, including dolphins, seals, penguins and even the rare Fiordland crested penguin.

One of the best ways to experience Milford Sound is to take a cruise. Cruises usually last between two and four hours and take visitors up close to the towering cliffs and waterfalls. They also provide the opportunity to spot wildlife, such as dolphins and seals, from the boat.

For those looking for a more active experience, kayaking is a great way to explore the Sound. Kayaks are available for hire from the Milford Sound Visitor Centre, and visitors can paddle along the fjord, admiring the scenery and wildlife. For the more adventurous, there are also guided kayak tours which take visitors further out into the Sound.

Hiking is another popular activity in Milford Sound. The Department of Conservation has a range of walking tracks in the area, from easy-going riverside walks to more challenging mountain hikes. The most popular track is the Milford Track, a four-day tramp which takes visitors past some of the most spectacular scenery in New Zealand.


Mount Cook

Source: New Zealand
Characteristic Description
NameAoraki / Mount Cook
TypeMountain in New Zealand
Rating / Review count4.7 / 507

For those looking to experience the beauty of Mount Cook without the risks of mountaineering, a day trip is an excellent option. Visitors can experience the stunning views from nearby vantage points like Mount John, as well as from the air with a scenic helicopter flight. There are also plenty of walking tracks and trails in the area, with varying levels of difficulty and length, so there’s something for everyone.

If you’re feeling brave, you can also take on one of the more challenging hikes in the area. The Hooker Valley Track is a popular hiking trail that takes you up to the mountain’s base, giving you an up-close look at its majestic peaks. The Mueller Hut is another popular destination, offering a stunning view of Mount Cook and the surrounding mountains.

No matter when you visit, Mount Cook makes for an unforgettable experience. Winter is particularly popular with skiers and snowboarders, who come to take advantage of the area’s excellent slopes. In the summer months, the warmer weather brings out the wildlife, with hikers and photographers flocking to the area to experience the views and spot birds and other animals.

When visiting Mount Cook, it’s important to be prepared. Make sure you have the right clothing and equipment, and if you’re planning to hike, be aware of the area’s weather conditions. It’s also wise to plan ahead and book accommodation in advance, as the area can get quite busy during peak times.

Whether you’re a mountaineer, a hiker, or a casual tourist, Mount Cook is a must-visit destination. With its world-class views and activities, it’s an experience you won’t soon forget.


Abel Tasman National Park

Source: DOC
Characteristic Description
NameAbel Tasman National Park
TypeNational park in New Zealand
WebsiteGo to website
Rating / Review count4.8 / 1,770
AddressSouth Island 7183, New Zealand
Phone+64 3 546 9339

The Abel Tasman National Park offers a unique and unforgettable travel experience. One of the best ways to explore the park is by taking a guided kayak tour. These tours offer breathtaking views of the park’s golden sandy beaches, secluded coves, and rocky outcrops. You’ll also have the chance to spot some of the park’s wildlife, such as fur seals, dolphins, and even whales.

If you’re looking for a more leisurely experience, the Abel Tasman Coastal Track is a great option. This track meanders through the golden sands of the beaches and lush rainforest. Along the way, you can stop at some of the hidden coves and lagoons for a swim or a picnic. There are also plenty of opportunities for wildlife spotting, including seals, sea birds, and even dolphins.

For those looking for a more cultural experience, the Maori culture is alive and well in the Abel Tasman National Park. Experience the culture through guided tours, traditional Maori ceremonies, and even Maori cooking demonstrations. You can also learn about the history of the area, including the Maori legend of the Greenstone God whose body formed the land and sea around Abel Tasman.

For the adventurous traveler, the Abel Tasman National Park offers a variety of activities to suit all levels of fitness. Hiking, mountain biking, and even abseiling are all possible within the park’s boundaries. There are also a number of day trips available, including sea kayaking, sailing, and fishing.

The Abel Tasman National Park is an amazing destination for anyone looking for an unforgettable travel experience. With its stunning beaches, lush rainforest, and abundant wildlife, it’s a must-visit destination for any nature lover. With its unique cultural experiences, activities for all levels of fitness, and the chance to explore the area’s rich history, it’s an experience you won’t want to miss. So if you’re looking for an unforgettable travel experience, the Abel Tasman National Park is the perfect destination.

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Source: New Zealand
Characteristic Description
TypeTown in the South Island, New Zealand

When visiting Queenstown, it’s important to plan your trip in advance and make sure you have enough time to explore all the area has to offer. The best time to visit is during the summer months when temperatures are mild and the days are long. During the summer, you can take part in activities such as bungee jumping, white water rafting, and sky diving.

For those looking for a more relaxed experience, Queenstown also has plenty of options. Take a scenic gondola ride up to the top of the Remarkables Mountain Range and take in the stunning views of Lake Wakatipu, or explore the beautiful natural scenery of the nearby Milford Sound. If you’re looking for some culture, you can also visit the Queenstown Arts Centre and explore the many galleries, exhibitions, and workshops.

No matter what your interests, Queenstown has something to offer. From outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, and kayaking, to leisurely activities like shopping, dining, and sightseeing, there’s something here for everyone.

When visiting Queenstown, it’s also important to remember to take safety precautions. Make sure you have the proper equipment for activities like hiking and kayaking, and always check the weather before you head out.

If you’re looking for an unforgettable experience, Queenstown is the perfect destination. With its stunning landscapes, unique activities, and vibrant nightlife, Queenstown will leave you with memories to last a lifetime. Whether you’re a thrill-seeker or a sightseer, Queenstown is sure to provide an experience you won’t soon forget.

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Fox Glacier

Source: Wikivoyage
Characteristic Description
NameFox Glacier
TypeVillage in the South Island, New Zealand

The best way to experience Fox Glacier is to take a guided tour. The knowledgeable guides can take you to the best vantage points and explain the history and science of the glacier. There are also options for hiking, ice climbing, and heli-hiking. For those who prefer to stay on solid ground, the surrounding rainforest provides plenty of opportunities for exploration, with plenty of hikes ranging from easy to difficult.

For those looking for a unique experience, Fox Glacier also offers a unique combination of ice and snow adventure. You can experience the thrill of snowmobiling on the glacial ice, or explore the crevasses and ice caves created by the glacier’s movement.

When visiting Fox Glacier, it’s important to dress appropriately and wear sturdy shoes. The terrain can be quite slippery, and the weather can change quickly. It’s also important to be aware of the potential risks associated with visiting a glacier, such as avalanches and crevasses.


Lake Tekapo

Source: KimKim
Characteristic Description
NameLake Tekapo
TypeTownship in the South Island, New Zealand

For those looking for a peaceful escape, Lake Tekapo is the perfect spot for some relaxation. Take a leisurely stroll along the shoreline, admiring the stunning views of the Southern Alps, or hire a kayak and explore the pristine waters. Or why not take a boat trip and spot the rare native birds such as the black stilt, black-fronted tern or the New Zealand falcon.

If you’re after something a bit more adventurous, head to Lake Tekapo for some of the best skiing, snowboarding and other snow activities in the region. With several ski resorts and plenty of terrain to explore, visitors can enjoy the thrills of skiing or snowboarding in a stunning alpine setting.

For those who like to take things a bit slower, Lake Tekapo is also home to some of the most spectacular night skies in the Southern Hemisphere. Take a star gazing tour and explore the wonders of the night sky, or visit the Church of the Good Shepherd for a magical experience of the star-studded sky above.

When it comes to things to do, Lake Tekapo is bursting with activities. From skiing and snowboarding to hiking and mountain biking, fishing, horse riding, kayaking and more, visitors are sure to find something to fit their interests and abilities.

And if you’re looking for a unique experience, why not take a helicopter ride over the lake and its surrounding mountains? This is the perfect way to get a bird’s eye view of the stunning scenery and scenery of the area.


Franz Josef Glacier

Source: New Zealand
Characteristic Description
NameFranz Josef Glacier
TypeGlacier in New Zealand
Rating / Review count4.6 / 308

Visitors to the glacier can take a variety of guided tours, from heli-hikes to ice climbing. The latter offers an adrenaline-filled experience as you scale the ice formations created by the glacier. As you ascend, you’ll get stunning views of the surrounding landscape, including snow-capped mountains, lush rainforests and glacial rivers.

If you’re looking to explore the glacier at a more leisurely pace, there are several walking tracks to explore. The trails wind through the valley and along the glacier’s edge, giving you a unique perspective of the glacier up close.

In addition to the glacier, there are plenty of other activities to enjoy in the area. The nearby Fox Glacier offers the chance to see a different glacial landscape, while the nearby Lake Mapourika is perfect for swimming and kayaking.

When it comes to accommodation, there are plenty of options to choose from. From luxury lodges to backpacker hostels, there’s something for everyone. And if you want to get away from it all, you can even camp in the surrounding area.

No matter how you choose to explore Franz Josef Glacier, you’re sure to have an unforgettable experience. As the late Sir Edmund Hillary said, “The Franz Josef Glacier is an amazing natural wonder and should be experienced by all.”

So if you’re looking for a unique travel experience, add Franz Josef Glacier to your list. With its incredible scenery and diverse range of activities, it’s sure to be a trip you’ll never forget.

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Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park

Visitors to Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park will be able to experience some of the most breathtaking views in New Zealand. The park is home to the highest mountain in New Zealand, Aoraki/Mount Cook, which rises 3,754 meters above sea level. Not only is the mountain impressive to look at, but it also offers some of the best hiking and mountaineering opportunities in the country.

The park is also home to several glacial lakes and rivers, providing visitors with plenty of opportunities to take in the beauty of the landscape. The most famous lake in the park is Lake Tekapo, which is known for its vibrant blue and turquoise waters. The lake is a popular destination for kayaking and canoeing, as well as swimming and fishing.

When visiting Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, visitors should take some time to explore the area’s fascinating Maori culture. The park is home to several Maori tribes, who have a deep connection to the land. Visitors can learn about the tribes’ history, customs, and beliefs through local guides and stories.

There are also a number of activities and events that visitors can enjoy in the park. These include guided hikes, mountain biking, horseback riding, fishing, and more. Visitors can also take part in the park’s stargazing program, which allows them to view the night sky from the comfort of a viewing platform or the top of a mountain.

When traveling to Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, it is important to remember that the area can be quite cold and windy. Warm clothing and good supplies are essential. Visitors should also be aware of the park’s strict rules and regulations, which are designed to protect the environment and its wildlife.



Source: New Zealand
Characteristic Description
TypeTown in the South Island, New Zealand

For those looking to experience the best of Wanaka, there is no better way than to go on a guided tour. With a knowledgeable local guide, they can provide insight into the culture and history of the area, as well as provide tips on the best places to explore. With their help, visitors can get a unique and intimate view of this amazing place.

For a unique experience, visitors can also take part in a Maori cultural event. Wanaka is home to some of the most authentic Maori activities and ceremonies in New Zealand. From traditional haka displays to cultural storytelling and traditional songs, visitors can get a real feel for the culture of this region.

When visiting Wanaka, it is important to remember that the town is a small one and there are limited accommodation options. There are a few resorts and hotels, but the best way to experience the town is to stay in one of the many holiday homes. This is a great way to get the feel of the local culture and explore the area in a more relaxed way.

When visiting Wanaka, it is important to remember to make the most of the natural beauty in the area. While there are plenty of activities to take part in, it is also important to take some time to relax and enjoy the scenery. From the majestic Southern Alps to the pristine lakes and rivers, Wanaka is an incredible place to explore and experience.

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Te Anau

Source: Southland, New Zealand
Characteristic Description
NameTe Anau
TypeTown in the South Island, New Zealand

The town of Te Anau is nestled between towering mountains and the crystal clear waters of Lake Te Anau, making it the perfect destination for outdoor enthusiasts. The town is home to a variety of activities, such as kayaking, fishing, horse riding, and hiking. There are also plenty of opportunities for wildlife spotting, with rare species such as the rare Fiordland Crested Penguin and the Kea, a native mountain parrot, living in the area.

For those wanting a more relaxed experience, Te Anau is home to a number of tranquil walking trails and walkways, where visitors can take in the stunning views. There are also a number of museums and galleries, offering an insight into the culture and history of the region.

At night, visitors can experience the unique Maori culture of the area by attending a traditional Maori feast. This is a great way to sample traditional cuisine and also experience traditional storytelling, music and dance.

Those interested in learning more about the area’s history can visit the Te Anau Glow Worm Cave. Here, visitors can explore the underground cave system and witness the breathtaking glow worm display.

For those looking for some retail therapy, Te Anau has a range of shops and boutiques, offering everything from local arts and crafts to souvenirs and gifts.

For those wanting to visit Te Anau, the best time to go is during the summer months, when the weather is warm and sunny. The town is easily accessible by car, bus or train, and there are a range of accommodation options available.

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Source: New Zealand
Characteristic Description
TypeVillage in the South Island, New Zealand

When visiting Punakaiki, visitors can enjoy a range of activities, including exploring the Pancake Rocks, taking a scenic coastal drive and visiting the nearby Paparoa National Park. There are also plenty of places to stay, with options ranging from hotels to hostels and camping sites.

The Pancake Rocks are a must-see for visitors to Punakaiki. The rocks are made up of limestone and are full of fascinating features, including blowholes, arches and caves. The best way to experience the Pancake Rocks is to take a guided tour, as the guides can provide interesting stories and facts about this unique geological formation.

The nearby Paparoa National Park is a great place to explore the West Coast of South Island. There are numerous hiking trails and tracks, which offer stunning views of the coastline and mountains. Bird watching is also popular here, as the park is home to a variety of native birds.

For those wanting to experience Punakaiki’s unique culture, there are a variety of local restaurants and cafes to choose from. Punakaiki is also home to the Punakaiki Arts Centre, which is the perfect place to enjoy live music and art exhibitions.



Source: KimKim
Characteristic Description
TypeTown in the South Island, New Zealand

If you’re looking for a unique experience, try a sea-kayaking tour. The clear, calm waters of Kaikoura are perfect for paddling, and you can get up close to some of the local wildlife, including dolphins, seals, and whales. You may even get to spot some of the rare and endangered bird species that live in the area.

The area around Kaikoura is home to some of the best surfing in the country. If you’re an experienced surfer, you’ll be able to find some great waves. There are also plenty of places for beginners to learn, with plenty of surf schools and instructors available.

If you’re looking for a more relaxed experience, take a stroll along the beach, or go for a walk in the nearby hills. There are also several wineries in the area, offering tastings and tours.

No visit to Kaikoura is complete without trying the local seafood. The town is renowned for its crayfish and blue cod, which are caught locally and served in many of the town’s restaurants.

One of the best things about Kaikoura is that it’s easy to explore on foot. The town is small, but there are plenty of interesting places to discover. Don’t miss the local museum, which is full of fascinating stories about the area’s history and culture.

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Frequently asked questions

Popular activities in South Island NZ include adventure activities such as bungy jumping, skiing, and jet boating, as well as sightseeing attractions like Milford Sound, the International Antarctic Centre, and Queenstown.

Yes, there are many beautiful beaches in South Island NZ, including Kaikoura Beach, Punakaiki Beach, and Abel Tasman National Park.

Yes, there are many wineries in South Island NZ, including Mt Difficulty Wines, Gibbston Valley Winery, and Auntsfield Estate.

Yes, there are many wildlife species to see in South Island NZ, including dolphins, whales, seals, albatrosses, and tuatara.

Yes, there are many national parks in South Island NZ, including Abel Tasman National Park, Paparoa National Park, and Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park.

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