Situated at the top of the South Island, Nelson Tasman enjoys a mild sunny climate year round. It's the perfect place for outdoor adventures and relaxation.
Wine and food is a key attraction for visitors to Marlborough and the beautiful Marlborough Sounds is the perfect setting to enjoy a glass of sauvignon blanc. For great wine, food, gorgeous scenery and a range of activities Marlborough has it all.
Whatever the season, Christchurch and Canterbury are inspirational as the heart of New Zealand's South island. From lush vineyards to sky-piercing mountains, pristine glacial lakes to wild coastlines, it's a region of remarkable contrasts.
The Aoraki Mount Cook Mackenzie region is situated in the centre of New Zealand's majestic South Island.
The region is renowed for its incredibly cleary starry nights, brilliant sunny days, remarkable turquoise blue lakes, valleys of gold and snow-capped mountains.
The West Coast of the Southern Alps is an easy flight from Christchurch, a stunning drive through one of several passes from Nelson, Canterbury or Otago or final destination of the spectacular TranzAlpine scenic train journey.
Surrounded by stunning natural beauty and with some of New Zealand's best 19th century architecture, the district offers visitors a welcoming experience. A haven for eco-tourism and wildlife including Oamaru Blue and Yellow Penguin colonies, shags, seals and an abundance of birdlife.
Wanaka is nestled in a spectacular location at the foot of the Southern Alps, where crystal clear lakes and rivers fed from the glaciers of Mt Apiring National Park.
Queenstown is New zealand's premier four season lake and alpine resort. Surrounded by majestic mountains and nestled on the shores of crystal clear Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown's stunning scenery is inspiring and revitalising.
Fiordland - one of the world's last great wildernesses and the essence of New Zealand's untamed splendor. Imagine standing high in the mountains, looking over a vast landscape of soaring peaks, glistening fiords, and mighty rivers winding through native forest. Fiordland is a 'must see' for anyone travelling in New Zealand's south.
Located on the south east coast of the South Island, Dunedin is nestled in tree-clad hills at the head of a spectacular harbour. As the gateway to the Otago region it is New Zealand's largest city by area and arguably the most spectacular in terms of contrasting landscapes.
For those who want to get off the beaten track, Southland - the southernmost part of New Zealand - is the ideal place to visit. Its long beaches, green farmland, lush forests, meandering rivers and rugged mountains are the settings for innumerable special adventures.
Enjoy a wide variety of activities in South Canterbury. Try white water rafting, horse riding, fishing, hunting, walking, mountain-biking, skiing or golf, or more gentle experiences such as local food and wine, museums, art galleries, Maori rock art, garden tours or farm visits.
Central Otago celebrates a World of Difference with a magnificent natural and historic wealth; distinguished through its expansive landscapes, defined seasons, distinctive gold heritage, year round
curling, wine trails and New Zealand’s first cycling / walking rail trail.
Location: Lake Tekapo
This site has been designed to assist you in putting together the best itineraries for a holiday in the South Island of New Zealand. Please feel free to use any content from this site including the wonderful images of the South that you’ll find in our gallery.
With spectacular mountains, pristine forests, crystal clear rivers and picturesque lakes, the South Island's stunning landscape and scenery is nature at its best. It's also a place rich in incredible experiences for you to enjoy; from the golden beaches in the north to the rugged coastline of the south - on the ground, in the air, or on the water.
With regular connecting flights via Asia and Australia, Christchurch International Airport is the main gateway to the stunning South Island and the perfect place to start your holiday.
With three National Parks within 90 minutes of the city, the Nelson Tasman region boasts an ever-changing landscape: from alpine lakes and raging rivers, to wide, sandy coastlines. It’s a place that provides a backdrop of stunning scenery and plenty of leisurely adventure, both on and off the water.
A rich and fertile countryside provides deliciously fresh produce, while grapes and hops are handcrafted into fine wines and thirst-quenching brews. As you pick your path through rolling hills and along the golden coasts, take time to visit the gourmet food producers, boutique wineries and breweries and the studios of the talented artistic community that thrives here.
With the largest fishing port in Australasia, Nelson Tasman is also the perfect place to indulge in New Zealand seafood. Fresh fish, scallops, clams and mussels are among the many delicacies to feature on menus throughout the area.
Marlborough is a region of spectacular scenic beauty from the stunning Marlborough Sounds to the magnificent high country and the wild Kaikoura coast. In the heart of all this are the Wairau and Awatere valleys - home to world famous Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, superb aromatics, elegant chardonnays, fine method traditionelle and rich pinot noirs that make Marlborough New Zealand's premier wine region.
The Marlborough Sounds is a coastal wonderland, with winding waterways, sheltered bays and ancient untouched forest. Cruise, kayak, or sail the endless bays. A warm welcome awaits you at the lodges and resorts along the way, from where you can walk or mountain bike along breath-taking scenic paths, including the famous Queen Charlotte Track.
With a rich ocean environment it’s home to a variety of marine life including seals, dolphins, whales and albatross. This makes Kaikoura an ideal spot for some of New Zealand’s best eco-tourism experiences complemented by fascinating Maori and European histories and a range of exhilarating sea and land-based activities.
Kaikoura is easy to visit by road, rail or air. Just a 2.5 hour drive from Christchurch, Kaikoura is located on the Alpine Pacific Touring route, linking it with Hanmer Springs alpine spa village and the Waipara Valley wine region. The Coastal Pacific scenic rail service connects Kaikoura with Christchurch and, combined with the Cook Strait ferry services, is an easy journey from Wellington.
Just a 90 minute drive from Christchurch, Hanmer Springs offers the best of New Zealand all in one setting. With its famous hot pools set beside a dramatic mountain and river landscape, Hanmer Springs is perfect for adventure or indulgence-or a bit of both!
A sensational area to visit all-year round, it’s hot in summer, bursting with lambs, daffodils and blossom in spring, an incredible mash of colour in autumn, while in winter expect to find postcard-perfect snowy scenes.
Kiwi to its core with warm hospitality, the region is highlighted by excellent boutique cafes and restaurants, which serve high quality local cuisine.
Witness Christchurch re-emerge, after earthquakes, as a world-leading, smart city. While part of Christchurch's centre is off-limits, there is still much to do. From the alps to the ocean it is the perfect setting for the beginning of your unforgettable South island experience.
Set on the Avon River, Christchurch rests between the sparkling Pacific Ocean, the majestic Southern Alps, and a spectacular peninsula dotted with charming townships and hidden bays.
Explore a myriad of open-air markets, indulge in the eclectic atmosphere of busy cafes, bars and restaurants dotted around the city and be entertained by talented performers and friendly locals. Enjoy a punt down the Avon or a leisurely stroll through the Botanic Gardens. Head to the city’s green heart, Hagley Park, for world-class entertainment at the pop-up events village or learn about the city’s seismic research, as history is being made.
Whether you're seeking relaxation in the peace and quiet of New Zealand's pure green landscapes, or nail biting, thrill seeking action, the West Coast has it all.
With a rich mining history, your journey along the West Coast will reveal the fascinating stories of settlers seeking greenstone and gold, old Maori settlement sites and ghost towns.
Explore the West Coast’s rich environmental heritage through the extensive walking tracks, the national parks and the spectacular glaciers. Savour the sights and sounds of the beautiful, wild coastline stretching from north to south for 600km. Marvel at the natural wonder of the Pancake Rocks and Blowholes, where you’ll see the magnificent limestone formations thought to be 30 million years in the making.
Rich golden landscapes, powder blue canals and bright turquoise glacial lakes form the tapestry of the Mackenzie Country. Located halfway between Christchurch and Queenstown in the heart of the Mackenzie, Lake Tekapo is renowned for its incredibly clear starry nights.
The Mount John Observatory in Lake Tekapo is one of the clearest places in the Southern Hemisphere to view the night skies above. The alpine village of Mount Cook, located in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park, provides a range of accommodation from an international style hotel to motels, backpackers and camping.
At 3754 metres, New Zealand’s highest mountain, Aoraki Mount Cook is dazzling. Enjoy 4WD safaris, boating on the glacier lakes, horse treks, fishing, scenic flights with snow landings and numerous walks and hikes. During the winter, there’s the chance to experience the ultimate guided ski trip onto New Zealand’s longest glacier, the Tasman.
Friendly South Canterbury welcomes visitors to have a memorable family holiday, romantic escape or relaxing break. Around two hours drive from both Christchurch and Dunedin, the “food bowl of New Zealand” is known for its high quality, natural fresh food and gourmet healthy food products.
With close proximity to rivers, the sea and the Southern Alps, a wide range of adventurous and more gentle activities are on offer all year round.
In Timaru, the urban centre of South Canterbury, take a beach-side stroll alongside sparkling Caroline Bay, and enjoy relaxed shopping and friendly cafes nearby. In the charming, historic village of Geraldine, enjoy the genuine country town atmosphere, delicious locally produced gourmet food and plenty of adventure activities nearby.
Other townships worth exploring include Pleasant Point and Temuka, both only around 15 minutes drive from Timaru.
Oamaru is a picturesque harbour town centrally located on the South Island's East Coast three hours south of Christchurch or 90 minutes north of Dunedin. Explore museums, shops and galleries within some of New Zealand's best 19th century architecture. With one of the country's oldest public gardens, two penguin colonies, four golf courses and many walking and cycling trails there are plenty of opportunities to experience nature as its best.
Discover the Waitaki Valley, an unspoilt, untouched paradise with some of the best scenery in New Zealand. A drive through the Valley will inspire you to get in touch with nature, either through camping, boating or picnicking by one of the four beautiful lakes (Lake Ohau, Benmore, Aviemore or Waitaki). There’s the fossil trail and other limestone wonders to discover, while the developing wine industry in the Valley is an opportunity to experience cold climate varietals while enjoying a platter of local produce.
Whatever the season, Wanaka offers you two things: the freedom to do as you please away from the crowds and the chance to enjoy the very best the South has to offer.
In summer, the lake and resort town become a playground for those that love the water and a real Kiwi holiday lifestyle, while autumn is a spectacular time of year to visit as trees turn to a mix of colours from glowing golds to vibrant reds.
In winter and spring, Wanaka’s pure mountain air, crisp sunny days and breathtaking vistas coupled with New Zealand’s largest skiable terrain means it’s a popular destination for skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts from throughout the world.
Escape into nature along Wanaka’s many walking tracks - from gentle lakeside strolls to high alpine treks – or explore the Mt Aspiring National Park wilderness. Whether you want to hike, climb, fish or enjoy a scenic flight or jetboating, your Wanaka experience is sure to be unforgettable.
Set in the magnificent landscapes of the Southern Alps, Queenstown boasts majestic beauty combined with an unrivalled range of activities and superior accommodation options. Its reputation as an adventure destination stems from the innovations of jetboating and bungy jumping. From the wild, to the mild, the region offers activities that will challenge your senses, while others will soothe and rejuvenate your soul.
Queenstown is home to the world’s southern most wine-producing region and several internationally renowned golf courses, as well as fantastic fishing, superb walking trails and many other invigorating outdoor pursuits.
Whether you are on the lake, a river, mountaintop or in the air, be prepared to experience some of the very best the South has to offer, all in one place.
Dunedin has several claims to fame and it's easy to experience them as you explore this Celtic-influenced city that prospered during the gold rush of the 1860s. Home to the world's steepest street, it also has New Zealand's only castle, while the Dunedin railway station is the most photographed building in the country.
Across Otago Harbour to the peninsula be enthralled by its natural beauty and amazing wildlife including the world’s rarest penguin - the yellow-eyed penguin - New Zealand sea lions, New Zealand fur seals and little blue penguins. Visit the only mainland breeding colony of the Northern Royal Albatross: large majestic seabirds with a wingspan of three metres.
To the west of the city explore the amazing landscape of Central Otago while to both the north and south there are quaint towns and villages dotted along the coastline.
Renowned as the home of the Mitre peak and the awe-inspiring fiords of Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound, Fiordland has achieved World Heritage status. Numerous short walks and multi-day hiking trails, including three of the New Zealand Great walks (the Milford, Routeburn, and Kepler Tracks), have earned Fiordland the reputation of one of the world's finest walking destinations. Combine your walk with a jet boat ride, a horse trek or a quad-bike trip and you have an adventure of a lifetime.
The attractive town of Te Anau, located on the shores of the South Island’s largest lake, is the gateway to Fiordland and provides a perfect base to explore the area. Here you can enjoy a range of activities on or off the water, fine restaurants, seven-days-a-week shopping and a large range of accommodation options.
From Te Anau it is a 2 hour drive through some of the most beautiful South Island scenery to Milford Sound or 20 minutes by road to the most picturesque lake in the world, Lake Manapouri, and the start of a Doubtful Sound excursion.
Central Otago is a place where memories are made.
The area has a continental climate – four distinct seasons each with its own beauty. Landscapes that inspire artists and photographers are prolific. The area's wines and fruit are world class – flavours nurtured by hand, crafted by nature. Some of New Zealand’s best cycling experiences are here – the Otago Central Rail Trail is just one.
Central Otago is a Must Do holiday destination. Cycle trails at your pace; indulge in a Central Otago wine – in stunning settings; eat summer fruit picked straight from the tree – bursting with flavour; try the ancient sport of curling; fish, boat and picnic on beautiful lakes and rivers; play golf on varied and uncrowded courses; and camp with the family like it used to be – at friendly holiday parks.
Pick your favourite Central Otago Must Do’s – then plan a visit to create your own Central Otago memories.
Every one of Southland's districts offer the traveller a unique discovery just waiting to be explored. From the unspoilt beauty of Stewart Island, the bright lights of Invercargill and the rugged coastline of The Catlins, visitors will be captivated with every destination in Southland.
Home to several rare New Zealand species, including Yellow-eyed penguins and Hector’s Dolphins, Southland is a wildlife and nature-lover’s dream place to be. It also offers some of the best walking tracks in the country. And to top it off, Southland produces some of the best seafood of the South. Its blue cod, Bluff oysters (in season) and crayfish are sure to please, while meat lovers are bound to enjoy Southland’s tasty and tender lamb and wild venison.
The best way to explore Southland is by campervan or car but the most important thing you need is time: because, if you don’t stop you’ll miss the true delights hidden throughout the region.
Be entertained from all areas of the city with the annual World Buskers Festival in Christchurch. Featuring a range of international street acts and comedy events, there’s a performance to suit any age and sense of humour. Enjoy fun, nonsense, acrobatics and daring feats of bravery.
Experience New Zealand’s premier wine and food festival in Marlborough, tasting the best that the region has on offer. From award winning wines to specialty cuisine and local produce, this event is not to be missed. Treat your taste buds to a day of gourmet delight and satisfaction.
Held on the 2nd Saturday of February.
One of the world's premier multi-sport events. Competitors race from Kumara Beach on the West Coast of New Zealand to Sumner Beach on the East Coast of New Zealand cycling, running and kayaking to traverse the South Island of New Zealand.
Enjoy a day at Paradise, Glenorchy and compete in the New Zealand Cross Triathlon National Championships. This event is a direct qualifier for the 2013 ITU Cross Triathlon World Championships, to be held in the Netherlands on 13 July 2013.
Stump the Hump is a 24hr walking event aimed at endurance sportspeople and adventurous trampers. Stump the Hump challenges you to walk the entire 55km of the Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track in a single day.
View spectacular gardens and floral exhibits from award-winning international and local garden designers at one of the best flower shows in the world. Modern and traditional gardens both have their place at this event, showcasing native and foreign flora and fauna.
Sample the weirdest and tastiest delicacies that the West Coast of the South Island has to offer. Local produce is the specialty, with the more unusual cuisine taking centre stage. Try a huhu grub, emu patty or local brew and see what the wild West Coast is all about!
Enjoy fresh local seafood at the iconic festival dedicated to mussels. A variety of wine, food and beer stalls offer a delicious array of treats, and a great entertainment line-up complements the always popular Marlborough event.
An air show not to be missed for aviation enthusiasts. Held in the scenic location of Marlborough, the event wows big crowds every year. There’ s also lots of other entertainment, wine, food, classic cars, live music and fun for the kids.
Held every second year (2013, 2015, etc.)
Feast of Canterbury® is a celebration of the food and hospitality industry in Canterbury.
The festival is designed to promote the quality produce, talent and lifestyle of our great foodie region and to reinforce Canterbury as the preeminent food and wine capital of New Zealand.
An air show featuring classic Warbird aircraft from WWI, WWII, Post WWII and non-military aircraft. This event is great day out for all the family with entertaining air stunts, acrobatics and synchronised performances over the picturesque skies of Lake Wanaka.
Held every second year at Easter (2014, 2016, etc.)
Lake Wanaka is stunning in autumn, so it’s no wonder they’ve made a festival to celebrate it. A week-long event full of live bands, performances, exhibitions and general entertainment. Suitable for the whole family, this festival is a tribute to the stunning region that is Wanaka.
Held every second year (2013, 2015, etc.)
Each autumn, as the trees and hillsides of this historic gold mining town turn vibrant red and gold, the local streets come to life in celebration.
At the bottom of New Zealand is a small town home to delicious, fresh seafood and a fantastic festival to celebrate it. Bluff oysters are world famous in New Zealand, and when paired with fantastic local cuisine, it makes for a must-do winter festival.
The Saint Clair Vineyard Half Marathon is a unique off road journey through the vineyards of Marlborough. On the second Saturday of May each year, entrants are offered the opportunity to run or walk through 21 vineyards privately owned by producers such as Cloudy Bay, Wairau River and of course Saint Clair Family Estate. The views from the course are stunning; with the Richmond Ranges in the background, the vines in their autumn colours and the panoramic views beside the Wairau River.
The Hanmer Springs Four Square Half Marathon and 10 km Run is held annually, in the picturesque
village of Hanmer Springs, 130km NW of Christchurch.
The race, which is organised by Hanmer Springs Multi Sport Club as a community fundraiser, takes competitors on a unique journey through Hanmer Forest amongst some amazing mountain scenery.
Oamaru "on fire" is a fire, steam, sound and lighting spectacular held in Harbour Streeet Oamaru from 5.30pm - 10pm.
Celebrating the distinctive Queenstown winter, this festival is one of the biggest winter parties in the Southern Hemisphere. A 10 day extravaganza of fun and entertainment, this is an iconic event that truly demonstrates the spectacular Queenstown region.
The South Island's premier running and walking event with options for all age and ability. Full Marathon, Half Marathon, 10K, Kids' Mara'Fun.
The Winter Music Festival has a veritable feast of exciting shows to entice you. The Festival has something for absolutely everyone – family, comedy, contemporary to classical – Nelson’s a great place to be – Nelson by Day, Music by Night.
The World Heli Challenge brings together a handful of top athletes from around the globe to compete in helicopter accessed competition. The goal is to find out which athlete is the best "all rounder" by combining their freeride and freestyle skills to showcase their overall talent.
First held in 2009, the Winter Games NZ is an elite, international winter sports competition, owned and run by the Winter Games New Zealand Trust with the support of the New Zealand Government, the New Zealand Olympic Committee and Sport NZ.
The Body Festival, Christchurch’s annual festival of dance and physical theatre, is a showcase and celebration of New Zealand’s dancing talent. Ranging from professional shows to amateur productions, the festival covers a variety of enjoyment for all audiences and participators. Focusing on the community aspect of dance, the Body Festival also incorporates a number of workshops and participation events.
Kaikoura is a small town with big scenery. With mighty mountainous alps in the background, and the Pacific ocean below, it’s a great venue for a seafood event. With live bands, great food and local beverages, it’s no wonder this is one of the most popular events of the year.
Head over to Akaroa, Bank’s Peninsula’s iconic French seaside township. Celebrating French culture and the heritage of the town, the event has a touch of Kiwi fun with entertainment for all ages. For a great weekend away with French cuisine, wine and culture, look no further.
Held every second year (2013, 2015, etc.)
Celebrating the arts is Dunedin’s specialty. The festival promotes exhibitions, performances and entertainment with a long term view of sustaining the festivity for years to come. Featuring fantastic local theatre, dance, circus, music, and gallery exhibits, this is the event for every arts lover.
Nelson is known for its passion for the arts. The area is bursting with theatre, music, dance, writing and visual art, so it’s no wonder their annual festival is a huge success. Celebrating and supporting the arts is a special part of Nelson’s rich, creative heart.
The race held every Labour Weekend runs through the streets of the central business district of Greymouth, on a tight 1.3km circuit and is 8 hours of non stop action.
The Queenstown JazzFest is a live music celebration which brings music to the masses and showcases the breadth of jazz styles from around New Zealand and the world.
Hunter's Garden Marlborough is the premier 'Top of the South Island' Spring Garden Festival. A celebration of Marlborough's stunning landscape, it showcases the very best the region has to offer.
A technical cross country MTB race, following a range of single tracks in the beautiful Hanmer Springs forest.