New Zealand’s South Island has some of the most magnificent natural landscapes you are likely to see anywhere. It’s like all the world’s beauty is contained in one area – from glacial valleys, fiords, wildlife, incredible wineries and breathtaking star-filled skies. You could choose to stay in one area or take a road trip from Picton down to Bluff. No matter where you roam around this magical island, you’re sure to be gasping at the magnificence of its unrivaled, unbridled terrain.
If you are the kind of elite traveler who likes adventure and the outdoors while unhooking from your normally hectic life, you might want to consider South Island for your next getaway.
There are plenty of thrilling activities to create some very memorable moments – everything from bungy-jumping, jet boating and mountain biking to skydiving, hiking and more. Please read on if you wish to get some ideas of what this lush island has to offer.
Spend the Day in Christchurch
You will find so much to do here like the lovely Botanical Gardens to the Arts Centre. This eclectic city combines the innovation of urban regeneration with culture, heritage and exhilarating activities. The central city is filled with cutting-edge architecture alongside some of the oldest buildings in New Zealand. The Avon River intersects the city, bringing a natural landscape to the urban environment. Christchurch is the basecamp for South Island exploration, with the Banks Peninsula within reach, as well as the stunning Southern Alps and famed Canterbury Plains.
The picturesque coastal town of Kaikōura is the ideal place for marine life encounters, coastal walks, and tucking into a plate of tasty crayfish that the locals love. Kaikōura's environment is truly spectacular – the village is sandwiched between the rugged Seaward Kaikōura Range and the Pacific Ocean. In winter the mountains are covered with snow, adding an extra depth to the landscape. Kaikōura is known for marine mammal encounters – whales, fur seals and dolphins live permanently in the coastal waters. Whale-watching trips leave the town several times a day and the local seal colony is always willing to put on a show. There are plenty of cafés, restaurants and shops to explore as well.
Marlborough Wine Region
New Zealand produces some very lovely fine vintages with Marlborough being South Island’s top producer. If you are a fan of wine, there are vineyards galore to explore. Stop in some of these wineries for tastings and tours. At the top of the South Island is the stunning Marlborough Sounds, with a multitude of intricate waterways accessible only from the sea. You can explore the area on a boat tour or by kayak, or hike a section of the Queen Charlotte Track. You could easily spend a couple weeks exploring this breathtaking area.
Lodge at the Hills
When you’re exploring all the things to do in South Island, at the end of the day you want to come home to a little slice of heaven. Lodge at the Hills is prime when it comes to South Island luxury accommodations. This residence is in a stunning glacial valley surrounded by snow-capped mountains. Spellbinding interiors present a delectable fusion of contemporary chic refinement and industrial panache. Steel beams support the streamlined vaulted ceilings in an elongated great room flanked by immersive floor-to-ceiling glass walls. Up to 12 guests can enjoy the outstanding outdoor facilities including a championship-sized grass tennis court, heated infinity swimming pool, sauna, and spa. There are also numerous outdoor seating spaces to enjoy. Guests can choose to dine under flowering cherry trees or snuggle in front of the fire pit in the enclosed seating area.
Nose to Nose with a Great White Shark
Come eye to eye with an array of sharks from the safety of the Shark Experience dive cage giving you a true adrenaline rush and special moment with nature, all while in a safe environment! The team at Shark Experience have been specializing in shark cage diving and sightseeing tours in the Foveaux Strait out of Bluff, for the last 12 years. The crew is committed to providing education, protection and the promotion of the special marine environment. They also really love sharks. The fantastic Foveaux Strait and the beautiful northern Titi Islands are home to amazing fish life, some beautiful birds and sights.
Bungy-Jumping in Queenstown
Did you know commercial bungy-jumping (incidentally, in New Zealand it’s spelled bungy, not bungee) was actually born on New Zealand’s South Island? The very first commercial bungy-jump in the world was the Kawarau Bridge Bungy, now considered one of the best adventure activities in Queenstown. There are three unique spots in Queenstown to partake of this adventurous activity. The first is the aforementioned 43 meter-high Kawarau Bridge Bungy offering hair-raising views. This is also the only place on the South Island where you can do a tandem bungy jump. Next is the Ledge Bungy right in Queenstown at the top of the gondola. The bungy is only 47 meters high but with an elevation gain of 480 meters over Queenstown it sure has stunning views! Last is the Nevis Bungy – the highest in the country at 134 meters, so you’re sure to get one heck of an adrenaline rush!
Skydive Over the Majestic Southern Alps
The best place to skydive in New Zealand is on the South Island. Imagine skydiving over the breathtaking Southern Alps! You will be falling from 9,000, 12,000, or 15,000 feet over huge mountain peaks, glaciers, and lakes. It’s basically a scenic flight and skydive all in one.
Tackle the Roy’s Peak Hike
If you’re an avid hiker and you want a challenge, Roy’s Peak is it. The trail starts just outside of Wanaka and can be hiked in one day. Although stunning, the trail is considered hard. In fact, there is more than a 1,300-meter elevation gain over the 16-kilometer trail. Certainly not for the faint-hearted, but so worth it. Once at the top you’ll get to enjoy one of the best viewpoints in the country. Stare out over Lake Wanaka and the Southern Alps and make sure your camera is ready.
Franz Josef Glacier Heli-Hike
Fly over the Southern Alps, home to more than 3,000 small glaciers. Visit Franz Josef Glacier on the western face of Aoraki/ Mt. Cook or the Tasman Glacier on the east side. Enjoy the flexibility of seeing either glacier in case of poor weather conditions. Via helicopter, you’ll go out to a deep part of the glacier. Pass over the deep crevasses of the icefalls and waterfalls to land at the upper Franz Josef Icefall. Alternatively, take a scenic helicopter flight over the Tasman Terminal Lake to the Tasman Glacier. You will be fitted with crampons for your trek out onto the glacier, exploring ices caves, and seeing the natural, ever-changing wonders of these magical South Island glaciers.
When adventures in a ruggedly beautiful destination like South Island New Zealand is on your travel list, rest assured LVH can make it happen for you with luxury accommodations, full services and 24/7 support. Your South Island holiday will also be accompanied with a tailor-made itinerary brimming with experiences that will leave your heart beating just a little faster. We invite you to reach out to one of our client relations professionals who will begin helping you to plan your journey with the knowledge that every moment matters. Our main concern is that you have the incredible trip you have always dreamed of!