Featuring dramatic glaciers, snowy mountains and glorious lakes, the South Island of New Zealand is full of adventure, fun and, of course, incredible food and wine. Here are 5 of the best reasons to include the South Island on your New Zealand itinerary.
The South Island has every activity imaginable to keep the thrill seekers occupied – from skiing and snowboarding on the mountains, to bungee jumping, jet boating, hiking and downhill luging. If outdoor adventure is your thing, you will be spoiled for choice on the South Island. The west coast is wild with rivers and rainforests, as well as glaciers and other amazing attractions to explore. There are plenty of cycling trails to enjoy through the central region, while the southern areas are home to unique rock and boulder formations and rugged coastlines filled with nature walks.
It was a tough choice not to put this first, but if you love amazing wine, this should be your number one reason for visiting the South Island (no judgement from us). Home to the Central Otago and Marlborough wine regions – arguably two of New Zealand’s best – you’ll be filling your glass with world class wines wherever you go on the South Island. Bordering the Marlborough wine region, Nelson is worth a visit to try their Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris varieties.
It just so happens that the South Island is home to some of the best events on New Zealand’s calendar. Along with the big ticket annual events such as the Queenstown Winter Festival, the Christchurch Marathon, and the Audi Quattro Winter Games in Wanaka, there’s also an abundance of smaller arts, theatre, food and wine, film and cultural events held across the South Island all year round that celebrate the best the regions have to offer.
Home to rare birds, reptiles and mammals, New Zealand is full of unique wildlife. While you would be lucky to spot a kiwi – New Zealand’s national animal – in the wild, venture just off the coast of the South Island to Stewart Island, where you can spot around 20,000 of the flightless birds in one small place! Considered to be the number one bucket list item for visiting New Zealand, swimming with Hector’s Dolphins is another experience not to miss – with the rare mammals found only in the inshore waters of the South Island near Akaroa.
The whole of the South Island is full of amazing foodie experiences from incredible seafood to farm fresh produce. Experience the local delicacy, Pāua (the Maori word for abalone), and of course, you can’t leave without trying the South Island’s signature dish – lamb – expertly served up at many of the restaurants around the country. If you love a good burger (let’s face it, who doesn’t?), make time for the taste sensations at Christchurch’s Bacon Brothers or Queenstown’s famous Fergburger. Join the queue that’s often leading out the door and up the main street of town – trust us, it’s worth the wait.
Mount Hutt Lodge is only an hour from the city of Christchurch. The lodge looks out across the glistening waters of the Rakaia River and the spectacular snow-capped Mount Hutt Mountain Range. Surrounded by tranquillity and natural beauty, this comfortable and modern resort takes full advantage of its hilltop position, and guests will enjoy views that are both stunning and tantalising, in equal measure. Mt Hutt Lodge units are fully self-contained and sleep four. All have spectacular river and mountain views. There is a children's playground, a pool, and beautiful vistas wherever you turn. Waking up to the majestic Southern Alps, Rakaia Gorge and the Pacific Ocean make this an awe-inspiring place to stay. Start the day with a dip in the outdoor pool before heading off to explore. Whether you saddle a horse or take to the skies in a hot air balloon, you'll discover a new appreciation for Mother Nature's craftsmanship. It's something you can reflect on later as you enjoy a delicious meal in the restaurant. Mount Hutt not only has the longest ski season in the Southern Hemisphere, it is also blessed with most reliable snowfall. It's excellent for skiers, snowboarders and aprÃ¨s skiers of all levels. But there's more to the area than fun in the powder. There are hikes through breathtaking scenery, first-class golf courses and, of course, salmon fishing. You're also convenient to Springfield Station, where you can board the Transalpine Express, one of the world's great railway journeys. It's a must do! Combine a breathtaking location with warm hospitality and you have the Mt. Hutt Lodge - vacation perfection!
Set against the breathtaking Remarkables Mountain Range and boasting immediate Lake Wakatipu frontage, Oaks Shores offers spacious Queenstown apartment-style accommodation in New Zealand’s most popular ski town. Simply perfect for families, couples and individuals looking for deluxe accommodation to meet their holiday needs, all Oaks Shores rooms offer privacy and plenty of space to ensure complete comfort during your stay. There is a communal landscaped courtyard with barbecue facilities, a gymnasium and sauna to enjoy. and a range of guest services including a 24-hour reception, a drying room for your ski equipment, undercover car parking, a complimentary city shuttle bus service and guest laundry service. Oaks Shores is ideally located just 15 minutes’ drive from Queenstown International Airport and within easy reach of some of the best ski fields in the world including Coronet Peak, The Remarkables, Cardrona and Treble Cone. We’re only minutes away from world-class golfing, boating, wineries, shopping, walking trails, a host of high-adrenaline sports and the Queenstown Convention Bureau. For a ski trip or a comfortable getaway, think of Oaks Shores. So much to do and an ideal place to be.
Pines Resort is an oasis of tranquility at the foot of New Zealand's Southern Alps. Carved by glaciers and surrounded by statuesque mountains, Lake Wanaka is stunningly beautiful. At times, the reflections on the mirror-like surface of the lake simply take your breath away. Sitting on the southern shores of the lake, the resort boasts incredible views of the snow-capped peaks of the Mount Aspiring range. Relax by the resort's heated indoor pool, play a set or two of tennis, or borrow a bike and head into town. You'll find a number of great restaurants and cafes serving delicious local produce. During the winter, guests can enjoy hiking, mountain sightseeing (by plane) and breathtaking glacier walks. With three world-class ski fields on its doorstep, this small mining town has become a winter sports haven. If you haven't tried it, heli-skiing is a must-do. In summer, the lake becomes an aquatic playground, the air buzzing with the hum of outboard motors as water sports enthusiasts take to the lake. There's everything from jet boating, rafting and trout fishing, to water skiing and windsurfing. If that's not enough to keep you busy, there are also horseback riding and hiking. However, the real hero of your holiday at The Pines Resort will always be the scenery, forming a spectacular tapestry of vivid colours and rich textures into which your holiday adventure is woven.
A world of adventure and stunning panoramic views awaits you at The Ridge Resort. Nestled amongst the majestic mountains overlooking the spectacular waters of Lake Wakatipu, you can't help but think that you've found your own slice of paradise. The views from the windows change throughout the year; different colour palettes and textures give each passing season a distinctive beauty. A comfortable, self-service, apartment-style resort, you'll be just four kilometres from the centre of Queenstown, the premier four-season lake and alpine destination, making it the perfect launch pad to discover New Zealand's South Island. Hop on a bus and, in next to no time, you'll find yourself relaxing in one of the many exquisite cafés before indulging in a little retail therapy, or partying at one of Queenstown's fabulous nightspots. Depending on the season, you'll either be off on the slopes of one of the four International ski fields, or you'll be immersing yourself in water sports on the lake and nearby rivers. Bungee jumping is always fun, but not necessarily after you've done the rounds of the many local wineries. Whether you walk beneath the verdant canopy of the rainforest, fish for salmon in the rivers, or wander through one of the historic gold mining towns, you won't be disappointed. But whatever you do, don't miss the sublime beauty of the fiords of Milford Sound. It's as close to heaven as anywhere on earth. For a destination that will change the way you holiday, visit The Ridge Resort.
The Sands offers a range of apartments overlooking a picturesque beach in the very heart of the spectacular Tahunanui area, only five minutes from the center of Nelson. This is where you’ll find the highest number of sunshine hours on the Island of the Long White Cloud! The Sands Nelson is a two-minute stroll to the white sands of Tahunanui beach and, when your tummy starts to rumble, head for one of the many cafés, bars or takeaway food options, both on-site and within easy walking distance. Nelson is a dream holiday destination with great beaches, glorious national parks, exquisite wineries and magnificent golf courses. It also brims with many other delightful temptations. With stunning views stretching across the Tasman Ocean to the Alps of the South Island, and a host of restaurants, bars and cafes on your front doorstep. There is really no better place to relax and enjoy this pristine natural paradise than The Sands Nelson.