New Zealand’s South Island may not be big, but it’s big on experiences. To help you make the most of your tour, here are our top 5 South Island sightseeing activities.
The South Island of New Zealand maybe small when it comes to square metres, taking around 13 hours to drive from top to tail in good traffic… but don’t confuse small with snore. You’ll be hard pressed to pin down an exact itinerary, torn between paths well-travelled, local favourites, tour stalwarts and unexpected wonders hidden along the road.
From the sweeping Southern Alps and the world-renowned Milford Sound, to the glacial lakes of Mackenzie and the glassy vistas of Lake Wakatipu, Te Waipounamu delivers a million unmissable micro-moments, must-see sights and delicious dishes in a blink of an eye.
Where will your New Zealand sightseeing adventure take you? We’ve pinned down five stops included in our tours or ideal for day trips on your free days.
1. Milford Sound Cruise
When researching New Zealand sights and staples, Milford Sound is always a must, crowning a very long list of other “do-it-now’s” in the area. Why? Board a small boat and find out for yourself, slowly winding your way down stream, camera at the ready and awed gasps in your throat. Between the sleepy fur seals resting on the rocks and rumbling, rainforest waterfalls, you’ll wonder how the ‘Sound still exists. And feel very happy that it does.
Float into the heart of Middle Earth on an unexpected funyak river journey. Combining gentle adventure with screen-saver views, this gradual paddle down the delightful Dart River and its lovely little annexes will leave you smiling from ear to ear.
Get away from the hustle and bustle of the city streets and explore rocks pools, side streams and chasms instead – and then take a route rarely mentioned, sighting special movie locations identifiable to Lord of the Rings fans. A perfect day, courtesy of an inflatable canoe!
3. Franz Glacier Heli-Hike
The Franz Josef Glacier Heli-Hike is not for the faint hearted. Exhilarating, captivating and occasionally tiring, this full-day trek along the Hollyford Track will challenge your senses while surrounding you with vistas that make you want to stop every 30 seconds.
Beginning briefly in the air, a private helicopter charter deposits your hiking party in a wonderland of untouched blue ice, vast crevasses and towering pinnacles that put multi-level buildings to shame.
4. Scenic Flights over Mt Cook
Scenic flights with Air Safaris to take in the magnificence of the mighty Mt Cook is also highly recommended. Aoraki (Mount Cook) is the highest mountain in New Zealand and you can explore it’s majestic west face, before the helicopter descends down into the valleys below. Get your camera ready for the towering peaks, crevasse filled glaciers and sparkling waterways right up close.
5. Te Anau Glowworm Caves
Looking for an adventure on one of your free days? Journey underground on a subterranean adventure through limestone chambers and passages at the Te Anau Glowworm Caves.
You will be suspended in awe and silence, surrounded by cave decorations and a galaxy of tiny living lights. As you glide quietly beneath the lights of thousands of glowworms, only the gentle sounds of dripping water reminds you that you are deep underground and not beneath a star filled sky.
When was the last time you did something for yourself? Discover more of New Zealand’s South Island on one of our beautiful tours.