The South Island of New Zealand is one of my absolute favorite places in the whole world. Breathtaking landscapes consume every square inch of the island, and the people all welcome you with open arms. If you have never been there, I highly recommend adding this to your bucket list. Below are a few places and things that really stood out to me during my time there! Regardless of where you go though, you are bound to be amazed by the beauty.
This place has to be #1 on your to-do list. It was my favorite part of my visit to the South Island. There are dolphins, baby seals (I mean, come on!), beautiful mountains, and breathtaking waterfalls. There are many different types of boat tours that can take you around on guided tours, so definitely sign up for one of those! During our boat tour, dolphins and seals both joined us alongside the boat.
Queenstown is one of the biggest cities on the South Island, and reminds me of beautiful Telluride, Colorado. There is a quaint main street, a gondola to the top of the mountain, and the weirdest, but coolest, thing in the city was the graveyard. It rests at the top of the mountain overlooking the city and is absolutely gorgeous.
The Remarkables: Lake Wakatipu
The Remarkables are a famous mountain range on Lake Wakatipu near Queenstown. Their name describes what they look like perfectly…and it’s hard to think of any other way to convey what they look like except remarkable. Definitely a must when visiting the South Island.
Franz Josef Glacier
This glacier is a great day hike activity for anyone. It is a beautiful glacier, and you get outfitted with cool spiky shoes to climb to the top. On both sides of the glacier are breathtaking mountain ranges. Make sure to bring a clean water bottle as well! There are fresh glacier pools everywhere, and it is the most refreshing, cold water I’ve ever tasted.
This destination is famous due to its scatterings of limestone rocks all over the hill where rock climbers set up camp. It’s a beautiful landscape where you can enjoy watching rock climbers scale the large limestone walls. If movies are important to you, this was a shooting spot for Lord of the Rings and the Chronicles of Narnia. Yes, please.
Lake Te Anau: Glow Worm Caves
The city of Te Anau connects Milford Sound to Queenstown. It is a quaint town that is home to the largest lake on the South Island. Mountains surround the whole lake, similar to everywhere else in New Zealand. There are paths all around the lake for hiking or casual walks. There is also a 15,000 year old bio-luminescent glow-worm cave which is a short boat ride to the other side of the lake. I would highly recommend going to see the glow worms! It is looks like a sky full of bright stars…when in reality it is thousands of lit-up worms clinging to the walls.
Marlborough Region: Wine Tasting
Because…wine. This is a whole region on the northern tip of the South Island, and is famous for its vineyards and wines. Enough said.
Punakaiki: Pancake Rocks
This is also a lovely day trip and hike. The Pancake Rocks are famous in New Zealand because of their flat, stacked nature. They are located on the coastline, which creates dramatic splashes and waves every time water comes into the shore. The trail around the park where the rocks are takes about 20 minutes to complete, and there are natural blowholes that spray you with water along the way.
Blue Penguin Colony: Oamaru
This is a nesting ground for the blue penguins in the area, and can attract up to 300 penguins during their nesting periods (in November and December mainly). They arrive in groups, called “rafts”, right before dark while the sun is setting. It’s definitely a must see if you are in the area!
If you are headed to New Zealand, or merely dreaming about going one day, I am extremely jealous of you. New Zealand is one of the places I tell everyone that they must visit before they die. This place is too beautiful to pass up.