Lakes so blue you’d think they’d been photoshopped if you hadn’t seen them with your own eyes, mighty ancient glaciers, rolling green hills, snow capped mountains and rugged beaches where you can spot whales and dolphins playing between the waves.
If you like a bit of breathtaking beauty thrown in with your travel experiences then this could be your little slice of heaven. Here are our favourite ways to really get the very best from your time.
Watch the whales in the ocean off Kaikoura.
How to Squeeze the Most Amazing Experience from New Zealand’s South Island
Spot a Sperm Whale
Kaikoura, a small town in the north of the South Island, is one of the best places in New Zealand to spot magnificent sperm whales breaching up close.
Cruise Milford Sound
One of the purest and most awe-inspiring landscapes in New Zealand, Milford Sound is such a common site on New Zealand “bucket lists” that there must be something particularly special about it.
We can’t lie, it rains. A lot. But the result of that is lush green hills, flanked by thousands of small (and not so small) waterfalls, and making for pretty epic photo opportunities. Take a boat trip for the best views and to get right into the heart of the sound.
Cruise around the landscape of Milford Sound.
Imagine if your daily walk to work involved waterfalls, lakes and edging past a group of chilled out penguins – it would probably put you in a better mood for the day right?
Get yourself a working holiday for New Zealand and you could quite literally flip your life upside down.
Climb a Glacier
Franz Josef and Fox glaciers are thousands of years old. They have been growing, changing and retreating since before humans invented the wheel. So taking a trek up the surface will not only provide you with spectacular views, but also a humbling and unforgettable experience.
To add a little extra ‘OMG’ (as if it needed it), take a helicopter ride to the top and watch the glacier appear below you as you glide over the edge.
A trek up the Franz Josef glacier is an unforgettable experience.
Christchurch has had a bit of a rough time over the past few years as the earthquake in 2011 devastated the entire heart of the city. But Christchurch is back – in a big way. Cathedral Square has reopened so head there as well as the botanical gardens, and embrace the cities arty edge with a trip to the arts centre.
It’s also is the gateway to the South Island, fly to Christchuch and explore directly from the city.
Bungee Jump in Queenstown
Queenstown is New Zealand’s legendary adventure centre and the spiritual home for thrill seekers from around the globe.
Go white water rafting, scare yourself stupid on the canyon swing, jump out of a plane or take a jump from one of 3 different bungy sites. It’s an unforgettable experience but beware, it’s not for the faint hearted.
Have you got the guts to Bungy?
Kayak in Abel Tasman National Park
The South Island’s own little bit of paradise, Abel Tasman National Park is a place of long white sandy beaches, undisturbed forests, granite rock formations and turquoise waters. Explore the area from the water in a kayak and you’ll be rewarded with the very best views for your efforts.
Abel Tasman is New Zealand's own little drop of heaven.
See Dolphins in Kaikoura
Back to Kaikoura, and if you take a sunrise trip out into the chilly waters off the coast, you’ll be met by pods of dolphins eager to come and say hello.
What follows is an incredible opportunity to interact with these amazing animals – don a wetsuit and swim beside the boat as anywhere up to 200 dolphins dart in and out of the water around you at all angles. Knowing that they are there because they choose to be makes for one hell of an experience.