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Things To Do And See In South Island, New Zealand

novotel queenstown lakesideSouth Island Walks

Without a doubt, the very best way to explore New Zealand’s beautiful and diverse landscape is on foot. Hiking on the South Island is a must for all visitors, and a range of great trails ensures that there’s a walk to suit all ages, abilities and interests.

From epic three day adventures along the historic Hollyford Track and full day walks exploring impressive mountain ranges, rugged forests and lush glacial valleys, to short 30 minute strolls from Queenstown town centre, there’s something for everyone.

There are plenty of well trodden tracks to choose from on the South Island, but if you want to make the most of your time in the great outdoors, guided walks with friendly, local operators will give you more bang for your buck.

Here are a few guided tours we recommend:

New Zealand's Best Burger

Ferg Burger

Queenstown is fast becoming one of the world’s favourite dining destinations, with foodies from all over, descending on this small town to taste its local delights... and all thanks to Fergburger.

That name may just sounds familiar, because blogs, social media sites and even official news sources across the globe won't stop talking about Fergburger and their incredible burgers.   

CNN: “Fergburger may be the best burger joint on the planet”

Open 21 hours a day, Fergburger serves up a variety of classic and original burger options, so delicious that they must be eaten to be believed. Stop by day or night, even in the wee hours of the morning, to wrap your lips around one of these tasty treats.

Exploring Middle Earth - A Lord Of The Rings Tour

Heliworks Queenstown Lord of the Rings FlightsNew Zealand’s beautiful and diverse landscape plays a leading role in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies... and now it’s yours to discover.

Shot in more than 150 location around New Zealand, if you want to visit them all, you’ll have quite the journey ahead of you. Thanks to the popularity of the successful movie series there are a number of guided walks and speciality Lord Of The Rings tours.

Journey through Middle Earth with Dart River

Discover the land that inspired and impressed audiences around the world as you venture into the Dart River Valley, where mythology, history and fantasy come to life.

Dart River offer kayak and jet boat trips deep into the heart of the Mt Aspiring National Park, where you’ll take in spectacular sights and scenery from the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies.

Book Now >

Franz Josef Glacier

FGG walking over Glacier

South Island is home to New Zealand’s most impressive Glaciers, including the jaw-dropping Franz Josef.

Standing at over 2700m above sea level and 12 km long, Franz Josef Glacier reaches from the Southern Alps deep into the rainforest of Westland’s National Park.

Franz Josef Glacier Guides Offer Some Great Ways To Explore The Glacier.

With towering peaks and cavernous crevasses, there’s a wonderful world of brilliant blue ice to explore. Visit in winter time to ensure that you experience Franz Josef at it's best.

Glacier Valley Walk

Experience Franz Josef from the ground up, on an expertly guided walk along the glacier valley floor. During the three hour hike you’ll learn about the area's history, culture and geological make-up.

Suitable for all ages and abilities, this easy going walk won’t take you on to the ice.

Book Now >

Glacier Heli Hike

Only from the air will you truly be able to appreciate the glacier’s majesty, as white and ice rips across the lush green landscape. After an exciting scenic flight, you’ll touch down on the ice ready to explore the extraordinary landscape up-close.  

Book Now >

Ice Climbing

An experience filled with adventure, this adrenaline pumping day trip will get you closer to the ice than ever before and is the perfect introduction to the sport of ice climbing.

Book Now >

After a long day on the ice, unwind at Glacier Hot Pools, a luxurious oasis in the heart of the Westland National Park.

Fiordland National Park

The spectacular scenery and distinctive landscape of the Fiordland National Park makes it one of New Zealand’s best hiking destinations.    

From the snow capped mountain peaks of the South Island Alps and unspoiled rainforest, to the picturesque lakes and untamed coastline, The Fiordland National Park is as rugged and diverse, as it is beautiful.

Established in 1952, the park’s World Heritage protected status has allowed the native flora, fauna and wildlife to thrive in almost complete isolation, making it one of the world’s top spots for nature and bird enthusiasts. Only in the Fiordland National Park will you see species like the Takahe or the Kakapo (the world's only flightless parrot).

GWNZ Fantail

Within the National Park lie thirteen spectacular fiords, including one of New Zealand’s most popular travel destinations: Milford Sound. With its colossal mountain peaks, patches of unspoiled greenery and jagged rock formations piercing through crystal clear, glacier fed waters, it's easy to see why the world has fallen in love with Milford Sound.

Hollyford Track

Following the Hollyford Track is the ideal way to experience the Fiordland National Park. From the picturesque lakeside town of Te Anau, you will start your journey into the National Park travelling along the historic trail.

Kirk Munro Te Anau Sunset

Over three days, you’ll cover a lot of ground by foot, wilderness jet boat and helicopter, you’ll enjoy the warmth, hospitality, delicious food and luxury accommodation of two Fiordland lodges, all under the expert guidance of the experienced Hollyford Track team.

Find out more about Hollyford Track Guided Walks


Mount Aspiring National Park

Mount Aspiring National Park is a popular hiking destination with some of the most spectacular scenery on South Island.

Made up of lakes, snowfields, glaciers and one of New Zealand's tallest peaks, Mt Aspiring, the national park is an unmissable treat for tourists, travellers and hikers alike.

A great way to take in the full majesty and ecological diversity of the National Park, is to take a trip along the dramatic Dart River, as it tears its way through the landscape.

Dart River Jet is the only operator permitted on the Dart River and your best bet for exploring the Dart River and its surrounding areas. Based in Glenorchy, at the top of Lake Wakatipu, they offer two unique sightseeing options: Jet Boating and Kayaking.


DRJ Funyak chasm entranceDart River Wilderness Jet

A wilderness jet boat will take you on an exciting journey into the heart of the spectacular Mt Aspiring National Park with the only speed boat operator permitted on the river.

Dart River Funyak Inflatable Kayak

Take in the amazing scenery of the Mt Aspiring National Park as you paddle along the slow flowing river at your own pace.

Fins South Island's Best Pinot Noir

It could be the cool, dry climate and excellent soil conditions, or the local’s great taste for good wine, but New Zealand’s South Island is now home to some of the best Pinot on the planet.

Ask the experts and they’ll tell you how difficult it is to grow Pinot Noir grapes. Ask the experts again, and they’ll say how, until recently, it was only the French that could deliver the right environmental conditions and master the technique. That was until 1990’s, when New Zealand wineries began making award winning, internationally acclaimed Pinot Noir.

Today, wine is one of NZ’s top exports, and wine buffs from around the world are pouring into the country, specifically to taste our local tipple. So on your next visit to New Zealand, take the time to visit one of the many fantastic South Island wineries. Here are a few we recommend:

Skiing in Queenstown

From June to October a cool, dry climate and snow covered mountains make for perfect skiing conditions in Queenstown.

In the winter months, skiers and snowboarders from around the world come to New Zealand to experience Queenstown’s incredible snow conditions and ski culture, carving up the local mountain slopes and ski fields throughout the season.

DSC 0147 webSnowshoeing

If skiing isn't your thing, but you’d still like to enjoy the winter landscape, strap on a pair of snowshoes and come and explore the snow covered scenery. Snowshoes gives non-skiers the ability to walk comfortably across unbroken snow, to explore the white wilderness with ease.

Snowshoeing NZ offer a range of guided snowshoe walks, hikes and heli-hikes around the Queenstown area.

Book Now >

Helicopter Tour of South Island

There’s no better way to explore the stunning landscape and breathtaking scenery of New Zealand’s South Island than by flying above it. From mountaintop to valley floor, there’s nowhere these things can’t go. If price isn’t a problem or if you’re pushed for time, a helicopter guided walk is one of our top travel tips. Here are our recommendations for helicopter tours on South Island:

Heli Hike

With a helicopter hike, you’ll get more from your guided walk. Onboard your state-of-the-art chopper, you’ll cover a wider area in less time, allowing you to explore more of the rugged and diverse landscape. With an experienced pilot and an expert guide at your disposal, you will access parts of the South Island and experience things that most people can only dream about.

Book a Heli Hike

Franz Josef Glacier Heli Hike

An unforgettable day filled with adventure. You’ll flying high over brilliant blue glacial lakes, mountain peaks and snowfields, before touching down on the pristine ice of Franz Josef Glacier and beginning your guided walk.

Book a Glacier Heli Hike

Heli snowshoe Remarkables NZ 2Heli-Snowshoeing

On top of the world, surrounded by stunning snow covered scenery, you’ll walk among the snowy mountain peaks, just you, your walking party and your expert guide. There’s a wonderful world of pristine white to explore, just minutes from Queenstown. If you can walk, you can snowshoe, and now you can fly and snowshoe.

Book Heli-Snowshoeing

Wildlife on South Island

Nowhere else on earth can you encounter such geographical diversity, natural beauty and unique wildlife. In the space of a day you climb rugged mountain peaks, swim in brilliant blue lakes, conquer imposing glacier ice walls, trek through dense rainforest and experience the stunning ferocity of the harshest coastline - all under the watchful eye of the world’s most extraordinary and beautiful wildlife.

The Ultimate Nature Experience with Guided Walks New Zealand

Discover the amazing wildlife and bird life of New Zealand’s South Island on a day packed with adventure. From the mountains to the sea, jet boating along the Dart River and wilderness walking through the beech forests of the Mount Aspiring National Park, and onto scenic valleys and glacier fed lakes, enjoy adventure and nature in one incredible day.

Find out more about The Ultimate Nature Experience >

More Things To Do On New Zealand’s South Island

For your next visit to New Zealand’s South Island, here are a few articles you might enjoy:

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