South Island Highlights

Discover New Zealand’s South Island

Discover New Zealand’s South Island

In this article we’d like to introduce you to New Zealand’s South Island and a few of the major highlights you really should not miss. The South Island – known to the indigenous Maori as Te Waipounamu – is the largest of the New Zealand islands. Here you can explore idyllic lakes amidst alpine landscapes, tranquil beaches and massive fjords. Apart from the adventure capital Queenstown you won’t find a lot of thrill. With only 30,000 people living in the south you instead get a chance to relax in Mother Nature’s very own paradise.

Here is some of the most fascinating locations and activities the South Island has to offer:

  • Bluff is the southern most township in the South Island. Once you get to Stirling Point you won’t be able to get any further south. It’s also the end of State Highway 1 – the country’s most famous highway starting all the way at Cape Reinga in the north and winding its way to the south. Bluff seaport is the home of the oyster fishermen and also an important starting point for anyone wanting to venture to the Antarctic.

  • Christchurch became a city by Royal Charter on 31 July 1856, making it officially the oldest established city in New Zealand. Unfortunately it has lost some of its tourist appeal after the major earthquakes in recent years that destroyed large parts of the inner city. The biggest loss for its people was the Christ Church Cathedral.

  • Dunedin is the second largest city in the South Island and houses New Zealand’s oldest university. As the name might suggest Dunedin has a strong Scottish heritage and has been built copying Edinburgh architecture. Even today the people of Dunedin celebrate Scottish traditions which is reflected in dances, music and food. Due to gold findings in 1861 the city became one of the country’s most important trade centres and was at one stage even New Zealand’s richest city. You will also find Dunedin in the Guinessbook of Work Records thanks to Baldwin Street which is the steepest street in the world with a 35% decline.

  • Fjordland National Park is the country’s largest National Park and was acknowledged by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1990. It encompasses more than 500km of hiking tracks and offers kayaking, diving and boat trips, often with dolphin sightings. Nature lovers will be astounded by 800 year old trees and a rather primeval looking scenery. Read more about New Zealand’s National Parks in this article.

    Milford Sound

    Milford Sound

  • Franz Josef Glacier was named by a German explorer after Franz Josef I. of Austria. The 11km long glacier along stretches along the west coast in Westland National Park. If walking to the glacier on the main track is not enough you can start a guided tour from the nearby Franz Josef Village – offers include hiking, helicopter scenic flights or ice climbing.

  • Fox Glacier is another glacier just south of Franz Josef. Depending on your fitness level you can chose between various short and day hikes or take a helicopter for a more scenic approach.

  • Hokitika is a sleepy little town in the northwest that was once part of New Zealand’s biggest gold rush 150 years ago. Have a look at a Greenstone factory or treat yourself to a piece of traditional New Zealand greenstone jewellery.

  • Kaikoura is a rather beautiful spot at the bottom of a stretch of the Southern Alps. All year round you can admire snowcovered mountain tops ascending from the sea. Kaikoura is famous for its sealife encounters. Numerous charter companies offer whale watching trips, swimming with dolphins experiences or snorkeling with seals.

  • Lake Wanaka is a picturesque town welcoming visitors with idyllic shops, restaurants and cafes with scenic views over New Zealand’s fourth largest lake with the same name. You can chose between hiking along the shores of the lake or up to Mt. Roy.

  • Milford Sound is the most famous of the sounds encompassed by Fjordland National Park. This 15km long sound is surrounded by sheer rock faces that rise 1,200 metres or more on either side and houses two permanent waterfalls. Milford Sound has been judged the world’s top travel destination in an international survey and has also been repeatedly called the Eighth Wonder of the World. If you’re feeling energetic sign yourself up for the 4 day Milford Track which is one of the 9 Great New Zealand Walks.
  • Queenstown is known as the Adventure Capital of New Zealand. Skydiving, White Water Rafting, Bungee-Jumping, Flying foxes, Paragliding and more. There is nothing adrenaline junkies won’t find here. Also famous for its skiing the city offers spectacular views of nearby mountain ranges like The Remarkables.

The Work-Travel-Fun New Zealand team is more than happy to assist you organizing your travel plans.

If you’d like to learn more about the North Island please follow this link.

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