With so much to see and do in New Zealand, it can be tricky to know what to put on your travel itinerary. Fortunately, the South Island provides a neat loop trail, allowing you to see all the sights and sounds and return to a major city to fly out with no trouble. The southern half of the country is home to amazing alpine scenery, as well as stunning lakes and rugged coastline. A combination of adventure and relaxing activities forms the perfect balance for any holiday, and no matter which highlights you pick you’re certain to have an unforgettable time.
- Lake Tekapo. Not only is Lake Tekapo a scenic and lovely alpine lake during the day, it offers an uncomparable view to the night skies. Throughout the day you can fish, swim, kayak, hike and go for a drive, and at night all you have to do is look up. If you want to know more about the stars, you can book a tour at the nearby Mt Johns observatory.
- Milford Sound. Though it’s a bit of a trek along the winding road in, the journey is worth it. Milford Sound is a pristine national forest park, with lush mossy trails through native bush. In addition to the many hikes, there are also boat tours which guide you through the isolated sound, giving you amazing views from the water.
- Punakaiki. Located on the West Coast, the unique “pancake rocks” of Punakaiki are well worth a visit. A walking trail takes you around them, and the blow holes spout columns of water into the air. There are sign posts that explain the layers of rock, and a cafe nearby to grab lunch or afternoon tea. There’s also lots of native forest to explore nearby, with walking tracks and lookouts.
- Abel Tasman.The Abel Tasman National Park is filled with hiking trails, beaches, camping spots and lagoons that provide the perfect natural playground for anyone who loves the outdoors. The park is world renowned for its clear water, sparkling sands and lush green forest. Book accommodation well in advance, as this area gets very popular.
- Kaikoura. Located on the east coast, Kaikoura is where the sea meets the land. Here you’ll find fresh seafood prepared to perfection, as well as lots of treasures from the sea such as paua shell and pearls. There are also whale watching tours that depart daily, offering you a chance to glimpse whales and dolphins in their natural habitat.
These destinations provide an excellent starting point for planning your South Island travels, but there is so much to see and do that anywhere you go will leave you with a fantastic experience.