The South Island is strikingly different to its northern counterpart, with steep mountain ranges and more extreme weather conditions. Temperatures can range from below freezing in winter to hot summer days without a cloud in the sky. It is very easy to navigate by car, and we can help put together your dream self-drive itinerary.
It is a playground for hikers, with several iconic treks including the Milford Track, the Routeburn, the Kepler, and the Hollyford Track. Among the “must sees” that are often listed are the Abel Tasman National Park, Fox and Franz Josef glaciers, Aoraki/Mount Cook, the Southern Lakes region (encompassing Queenstown and Wanaka), Milford Sound, and the city of Dunedin and the nearby Otago Peninsula with its albatross colony and yellow-eyed penguins.
This is a pretty good list to start with that will occupy most visitors to this stunning island. However, there are many more beautiful locations to explore for those who have a longer stay or the opportunity to return. Read our articles for our first-hand experiences with some of these locations...
New Zealand isn't particularly well known overseas for its wildlife but there are a wide variety of animals to see. The animal life that you can find in the North and South islands is quite different so if you're a big nature lover we recommend exploring them both.Find out more
Have fun on this easy two hour kayak safari, to photograph the royal spoonbill and find out more about the other birds of this wetland habitat.Find out more
You can't get much more off the beaten path in New Zealand than the Catlins Coast and its remoteness is a huge part of its charm. It's a reasonably small and fairly isolated region tucked away down in the south east corner of the South Island, below Dunedin and to the east of InvercargillFind out more
Banks Track is incredibly varied; from the elevated farmland at the start of the track that overlooks Akaroa and the Caldera, to the bays we passed through to end up in the bush. This walk is well-known amongst locals but escapes the attention of most overseas tourists.Find out more
Fifty minutes of pure happiness, this scenic flight is most definitely one of the most amazing on offer in NZ. The time just, ahem, flew by for us.Find out more
The Otago Peninsula is known for its wildlife and is one of the best places to see the endemic yellow-eyed penguin or "hoiho". There are several companies offering tours but our approach is always to work with the provider who can benefit the most from the financial support.Find out more
The perfect family holiday without a tablet screen in sight! Experience the best of the South Island with a whole heap of wildlife and the outdoors included.Discover More
An awesome trip itinerary for anyone wanting to cover the best of the South Island in very little time, with some adventure and wildlife thrown in!Discover More
Once Upon a Trip have been an amazing company to deal with. We are particularly thankful for the clear, friendly and prompt communication from Romain who dealt with us throughou... - Wayne & Gabrielle, AustraliaRead all reviews