South Island, New Zealand


South Island
North Island


The South Island of New Zealand (Te Wai Pounamu), is known for its breathtaking scenery and adventurous activities. We drove clockwise around the Island through Dunedin, Queenstown, Westport, and Nelson and ended at the ferry terminal in Picton - a distance of about 2500 kilometers, during which we saw the dramatic peaks of the Southern Alps, lakes, glaciers, fiords, rugged coastline and pretty towns.

Queenstown is reknowned as a base for exploring the region's vineyards and historic mining towns, and for adventure sports such as hang-gliding, bungee jumping and jet-boating.

Lake Wakipitu, the Remarkables Range and the region around Queenstown served as the film location for many of the scenes in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and Narnia.

The small town of Glenorchy serves as the starting point for walking and hiking trails, horse-trekking and boating excursions.

Wanaka is the gateway to Mount Aspiring National Park and home of Puzzling World, an attraction with an outdoor maze, and optical illusion artwork and sculptures.

In Fiordland National Park, there are two fiords with boat tours and tramping tracks available, Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound. The Road to Milford Sound provides spectacular views of canyons, waterfalls and rainforest.

Although distances appear short on the map, driving routes on South Island take a long time due to the winding roads and the multiple stops at scenic viewpoints.


We passed groups of vintage cars several times as a rally was taking place in which drivers circled the island in the opposite direction we did.


In Te Anau, a giant replica of the distinctive pukeko bird (swamphen) signifies its ecological and mythological significance.

There are two temperate maritime glaciers on the west coast of South Island, Fox and Franz Josef.

Both glaciers feature scenic flights and glacier walks to see the glaciers extent from the Southern Alps to the temperate rain forest just 300 meters above sea level.


Milford Sound has spectacular waterfalls including thousands of temporary ones that form during rain storms.


At Buller Gorge there are bushwalks and a swinging bridge.


The road between Fox and Franz Josef Glacier has several scenic waterfalls, lookout points and Blue Pools.

Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki are eroded and layered limestone formations where blowholes and swell basins can be seen.

At Hokitika, there are competitions to build structures and sculptures out of driftwood.

Abel Tasman National Park is at the northern end of a range of marble and limestone hills. It is an area of sandy beaches, coastal forests, inlets and bays.

We accessed Abel Tasman Park by taking a water taxi from Kaiteriteri Beach and then hiking a coastal track along Tasman Bay. 

The Wild West Coast of the South Island is a rugged landscape of cliffs, outcroppings and rainforest.

Picton is known as the gateway to the islands and inlets of Marlborough Sound. Diving excursions are available to view shipwrecks and a marine reserve.

Home | Adelaide | Melbourne | Sydney | Queensland | Christchurch | South Island | North Island | Auckland

This site was last updated 01/13/21