50 Best Things to do in South Island, New Zealand | 2024 (with Photos)

Nataša Obradovic

Nataša Obradovic - Travel Writer

Last Updated: March 28, 2024

Hey there! Natasha here, a travel enthusiast sharing my favorite spots and activities in South Island, NZ to make your trip unforgettable. Let's explore the beauty and excitement this incredible destination has to offer together!

Best Things to do in South Island, New Zealand

South Island, New Zealand, often referred to as Te Waipounamu, is a land of stunning landscapes, rich culture, and boundless adventure.

From the snow-capped Southern Alps to the pristine beaches of Abel Tasman National Park, every corner of this island offers something truly remarkable.

Whether you're seeking adrenaline-pumping activities or serene moments in nature, South Island has it all.

Let's embark on a journey with another Travel-Lingual guide to discover the 50 best things to do in this captivating region.

Most Recommended Thing to Do

Milford Sound

Top Choice Hotel

The Rees Hotel & Luxury Apartments

Our Top Choice Restaurant

Fleur's Place

Our Top Choice Bar for Nightlife

Cassels & Sons Brewery

Best Time to Visit

Best time to visit South Island, New Zealand: Summer.

Average Temperature

Moderate temperatures with cool summers and mild winters.

Transportation Options

Car rentals, buses, trains, and ferries available in abundance.

Average Cost ($, $$, $$$)


My Top Recommendation

In CITY, immerse yourself in the stunning natural beauty of South Island, New Zealand, by taking a leisurely stroll along the pristine shores of Lake Wakatipu as the sun sets, casting a golden glow on the surrounding mountains.

For a taste of local culture, explore the charming streets lined with artisanal boutiques and galleries, sampling delicious local cuisine at quaint cafes nestled amidst the breathtaking landscapes that define South Island, New Zealand.

What You'll Need to Bring

  1. Warm clothing

  2. Waterproof jacket

  3. Hiking boots

  4. Camera

  5. Portable charger

  6. Travel guidebook

  7. NZ dollars

  8. Travel itinerary

  9. Reusable water bottle

  10. Sense of adventure

What Not to Miss

In South Island, New Zealand, do not miss Milford Sound and Franz Josef Glacier for incredible natural beauty. Additionally, make sure to visit Queenstown for adventure activities and stunning scenery.

In the city of Christchurch, don't miss the Botanic Gardens and the Canterbury Museum for a taste of the city's culture and history. Additionally, explore the street art in the city center for a unique and vibrant experience.

What to Avoid

  1. Over-touristy spots
  2. Rushing through attractions

1. Visit Milford Sound with Cruise Milford

Cruise Milford

Embark on a mesmerizing journey through geological formations and rich Māori legends relating to one of the most iconic natural wonders of New Zealand, Milford Sound, nestled within the expansive 1.2 million hectares of UNESCO World Heritage-listed national park.

Stretching 16 kilometers to meet the Tasman Sea, Milford Sound Piopiotahi unfolds under the majestic presence of Rahotu / Mitre Peak.

Encounter dolphins, penguins, and seals sheltered within the sanctuary of the Piopiotahi (Milford Sound) Marine Reserve.

2. Explore Fiordland National Park

Fiordland National Park

Stretching across the southwestern coastline of New Zealand, Fiordland National Park epitomizes the nation's picturesque beauty: rugged mountain peaks, intricate glacial valleys, and sparkling fjords.

Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this park is a sanctuary for some of New Zealand's most remarkable natural marvels, such as Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound, and Lake Te Anau.

It's also home to elusive Fiordland penguins, playful dolphins, and serene populations of seals and sea lions.

3. Join a Wine Tour with Queenstown Wine Trail

Queensland Wine Trail

Indulge in the exquisite flavors of New Zealand's world-renowned wines with a guided tour through the vineyards of Central Otago.

You will be able to savor award-winning pinot noirs and rieslings while taking in the picturesque landscapes of the region.

Related Article: Things to do in Queenstown

4. Dolphin Watch in Akaroa with Black Cat Cruises

Black Cat Cruises

Hector’s dolphins hold the title of the world's smallest dolphins, and Akaroa is one of the rare spots where you can catch a glimpse of them.

Embark on a nature cruise departing from Akaroa, and you'll not only encounter these dolphins but also witness penguins, seals, and seabirds, and enjoy distinctive vistas of the volcanic crater.

Offered by Black Cat Cruises, the 2-hour eco tour sets sail from Akaroa. They are so assured of your Hector’s dolphin sighting that if you happen to miss them, your cruise is complimentary.

5. Hire a Campervan with JUCY


Experience the ultimate freedom of exploring South Island on your own terms by renting a campervan from JUCY.

With fully-equipped vehicles and endless scenic campsites, you'll have the flexibility to discover hidden gems at your own pace.

6. Kayak in Abel Tasman National Park

Abel Tasman Kayaks

Abel Tasman National Park, situated along the northern coast of the South Island, is a compact yet captivating destination.

Its highlights include kayaking, day hiking, and embarking on the popular Abel Tasman Coast Track, one of New Zealand's esteemed Great Walks.

Paddle through the crystal-clear waters of Abel Tasman National Park and meet seals basking on rocks and dolphins gracefully gliding through the waves on this unforgettable kayaking adventure.

7. Cruise the Marlborough Sounds and Walk the Queen Charlotte Track

Seafood Odyssea Cruise

Embark on a cruise through the Marlborough Sounds and trek the Queen Charlotte Track. Situated near Nelson at the top of the South Island, these four picturesque sounds offer stunning scenery.

The Queen Charlotte Sound is the most frequented among them.

Though slightly less renowned than the nearby Abel Tasman Coastal Track, efforts by locals have sought to establish the Queen Charlotte Track as one of New Zealand’s Great Walks. In our view, its beauty closely rivals that of its neighbor.

8. Visit Nugget Point Lighthouse and The Catlins Waterfalls

Nugget Point Lighthouse

The Catlins, often overlooked, lies on the southern tip of the South Island, boasting an abundance of breathtaking landscapes that make the drive from Queenstown or Dunedin worthwhile.

With plenty to discover, the entire region serves as a haven for photographers, but the highlight is undoubtedly Nugget Point Lighthouse near Kaka Point.

Offering stunning vistas of the lighthouse and the rugged cliffs, this scenic spot is best experienced just before sunrise, when you can position yourself on a rocky outcrop to witness the first light of the day emerging behind the lighthouse.

9. Go Whale-watching in Kaikoura

Whale Watch Kaikoura

Kaikōura stands out as one of the rare destinations worldwide where Giant Sperm Whales can be observed year-round, often near the shore.

These majestic creatures are drawn to this area due to the presence of the Kaikōura Canyon, which plunges to depths of 2km right along the coastline.

This unique geographical feature generates a complex system of sea currents, fostering an exceptionally abundant marine food chain.

10. Experience Shotover River Jet Boat

Shotover River Jet Boat

Experience the world-renowned Shotover Jet, the ultimate jet boat adventure, which has delighted nearly 4 million visitors since its inception in 1965.

Only Shotover Jet can take you through the breathtaking Shotover Canyons, as we are the sole company permitted to operate within this stunning natural wonder.

With high-performance V8 twin-engine boats designed specifically for the canyons, our thrilling ride offers gravity-defying stunts and speeds of up to 90 kilometers per hour, navigating through rapids and narrow passages just centimeters from towering cliff faces.

11. Hike Around Aoraki Mount Cook

Around Aoraki Mount Cook

Aoraki Mount Cook is the tallest peak of New Zealand's tallest mountain, soaring to 3,724m (12,218 ft). While summiting the mountain is reserved for seasoned mountaineers, the surrounding national park offers an array of trails catering to hikers of all skill levels.

The Hooker Valley Track is the most popular short hike, spanning 10km (6.2 miles) round-trip and requiring just 3 hours to complete. Its stunning vistas make it a must-do for visitors, offering unparalleled views relative to its moderate difficulty.

For a more adventurous trek, the Mueller Hut Route beckons, taking approximately 4 hours one way to reach the Mueller Hut, an option for overnight stays.

Exploring the extensive network of hiking trails is the best way to immerse oneself in the splendor of Aoraki Mount Cook, making this one of the most amazing things to do in South Island.

12. Visit Onsen Hot Pools

Onsen Hot Pools

Situated in Queenstown, the Onsen Hot Pools earned recognition as a recipient of the prestigious World Luxury Spa Awards in 2021, making this one of the most indulgent things to do in the South Island.

Featuring a day spa facility and cedar-lined hot pools offering panoramic views of the Shotover River, Onsen provides a tranquil retreat. The hot pools are supplied with water sourced from the neighboring mountains, ensuring a continuous flow of fresh water.

Other notable hot pool destinations on the South Island include Tekapo Springs Hot Pools, Hot Tubs Ōmarama, the Waiho Hot Pools in Franz Josef, and the Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa.

13. Walk the Routeburn Track

Routeburn Track

The Routeburn Track is one of New Zealand’s best hiking routes.

Stretching 32 km (20 miles) from The Divide, nestled along the route to Milford Sound, to Glenorchy, this point-to-point trail offers breathtaking scenery.

While commonly completed over 2 or 3 days, exceptionally fit hikers can tackle it in a single day.

Every step of the journey unveils stunning landscapes, from verdant rainforests to cascading waterfalls, culminating in panoramic vistas of the Southern Alps towering overhead.

14. Stargaze in Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo

Escape to the tranquil shores of Lake Tekapo, renowned for its crystal-clear night skies and dazzling celestial displays. On a clear night, southern hemisphere constellations and the Milky Way shine spectacularly.

Lake Tekapo is renowned for its mesmerizing milky aquamarine hue, derived from the glacial silt originating from the Southern Alps. Additionally, it serves as a favored location for witnessing the vibrant blooming of lupins from mid-November through December.

The vicinity of Lake Tekapo, characterized by minimal light pollution, holds accreditation as an International Dark Sky Reserve.

Within this reserve lies the Dark Sky Project, providing an extraordinary stargazing encounter at the Mount John Observatory.

15. Visit Larnach Castle, Dunedin

Larnach Castle, Dunedin

Located atop the Otago Peninsula near the village of Pukehiki, Larnach Castle, also known as "Larnach's Castle," stands as a mock castle and notable landmark within Dunedin, New Zealand.

Constructed by the prominent figure William Larnach, this grand estate is among the few of its kind in the country. Since 1967, the castle has been under private ownership by the Barker family, who have opened it to the public as a tourist attraction, proudly claiming the title of "New Zealand's only castle."

The gardens of Larnach Castle hold the esteemed distinction of being one of only five nationwide to be recognized as a "Garden of International Significance" by the New Zealand Gardens Trust, marking them as the first such gardens in the South Island to receive this honor

16. Try Bungee Jumping in Queenstown

AJ Hackett Ledge Bungy & Swing

Experience the ultimate adrenaline rush with a bungee jump off the historic Kawarau Bridge, the birthplace of commercial bungee jumping in 1988.

Since then, his adrenaline-pumping activity has since expanded to numerous locations across the country and globally.

Experiencing the leap firsthand is both daunting and exhilarating, leaving an indelible impression that you'll fondly recall long after your journey through New Zealand.

17. Explore the Otago Peninsula

Otago Peninsula

Bordering Dunedin's extensive harbor, the Otago Peninsula presents contrasting landscapes: rugged and elevated along the ocean, while offering warmth and shelter along the harbor. With volcanic origins, it forms part of the crater wall from an ancient volcano.

The scenic drive along the peninsula is breathtaking, starting from Vauxhall and winding past quaint settlements and beaches toward Taiaroa Head, home to an albatross colony. Nearby attractions include fur seals at Pilots Beach and sea lions at Te Rauone Beach.

On the southern side, the terrain is steep and wild, with walking trails leading to cliff-top viewpoints, penguin habitats, and seal colonies. Victory Beach features an Egyptian-like rock formation known as "The Pyramids," while Allans Beach offers sightings of yellow-eyed penguins, fur seals, and sea lions.

18. Visit Mount Aspiring National Park

Mount Aspiring National Park

Mount Aspiring National Park lies within the Southern Alps of New Zealand's South Island, situated to the north of Fiordland National Park. It spans across the Otago and Westland regions and is a designated part of the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage Site.

Home to more than 100 glaciers, Mount Aspiring continues to shape the park's landscape, contributing to the formation of its U-shaped valleys with steep sides.

These features were carved out during the Ōtira Ice Age approximately 16,000 to 18,000 years ago, showcasing the park's glacial history.

19. Visit the Moeraki Boulders

Moeraki Boulders

Moeraki has gained renown for its iconic boulders, peculiarly spherical stones strewn along the coastline.

These massive boulders, weighing several tonnes each and reaching heights of up to two meters, have intrigued scientists for their calcite concretion formation around 65 million years ago.

According to Maori legend, these boulders are remnants of gourds from the Araiteuru voyaging canoe, which met its fate upon landing in New Zealand centuries ago.

Take a leisurely stroll along the shoreline and ponder the mysteries of these ancient geological formations.

20. Go Skiing in Wanaka

Coronet Peak

Treble Cone, nestled in Wanaka, New Zealand, stands as the largest ski area within the Queenstown Southern Lakes District, offering access to 550 hectares of terrain for skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts.

With a substantial vertical drop of 700 meters, it is renowned for its extensive runs and the lack of crowds on both groomed and off-piste trails. The panoramic vistas, showcasing Lake Wanaka, enhance the unparalleled experience of skiing at Treble Cone.

Whether you're a seasoned pro or a first-time skier, you'll find pristine powder and breathtaking alpine vistas at every turn.

21. Explore Christchurch Botanic Gardens

Christchurch Botanic Gardens

After Auckland, Christchurch ranks as New Zealand's second-largest city and is located about halfway down the east coast of New Zealand's South Island.

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and immerse yourself in the tranquil oasis of Christchurch Botanic Gardens. Wander through lush native bush, vibrant floral displays, and serene waterways in this urban paradise.

22. Visit the International Antarctic Centre

International Antarctic Centre

Embark on an Antarctic adventure without leaving Christchurch at the International Antarctic Centre.

The International Antarctic Centre in Christchurch, New Zealand, is a popular visitor attraction and science discovery center situated at Christchurch International Airport. It is adjacent to the bases for the Antarctic programs of the US, New Zealand, and Italy.

The Centre offers Antarctic exhibits, a café, and a bar. Visitors can experience an Antarctic snowstorm room, meet husky dogs, and take rides in Hägglunds all-terrain vehicles.

There is also an exhibit featuring little blue penguins, and the Centre provides assistance for penguins in need.

23. Go Whale Watching in Bluff

Whale Watching

The Bluff, a coastal suburb within Durban's port area in South Africa, boasts remarkable natural beauty and abundant wildlife on both land and sea. It recently introduced a Whale Watching Route and hosts the Welcoming of the Whales Festival annually to celebrate the arrival of humpback whales.

The Old Whaling Station is undergoing transformation into a Heritage Site and Eco Tourism Hub by the Sodurba community tourism organization, aiming to share their history and promote ocean conservation.

The residents are deeply committed to preserving their heritage and cetacean connections through various events, guided walks, and whale watching activities.

24. See the Glowworms in Te Anau Caves

Te Anau Caves

The Te Ana-au caves, situated on the western bank of Lake Te Anau in the southwest region of New Zealand, hold significant cultural and ecological value.

Lawson Burrows rediscovered these limestone caves in 1948, locating the upper entrance after three years of meticulous searching, guided by clues found in ancient Māori legends.

After a scenic cruise across the stunning Lake Te Anau, knowledgeable and amiable guides lead you on an exploration of the caves via paths and small punts.

Witness the intricate rock formations sculpted by the rushing water, then glide through the serene darkness to reach the enchanting glowworm grotto. Here, the delicate radiance of hundreds of tiny glowworms creates a truly magical spectacle.

25. Explore Stewart Island

Stewart Island

Stewart Island, known as Rakiura in Māori, translates to 'glowing skies'. It stands as New Zealand's third-largest island, positioned 30 kilometers (16 nautical miles) south of the South Island.

The island takes on a roughly triangular shape, with its 164-kilometer (102-mile) coastline deeply indented by Paterson Inlet to the east, Port Pegasus to the south, and Mason Bay to the west.

Characterized by hilly terrain, Stewart Island is densely covered in forests, with its highest point, Mount Anglem, rising to 980 meters (3,220 feet). The island supports thriving populations of flightless birds, including penguins, owing to the scarcity of predators.

26. Try Skydiving in Queenstown

NZONE Skydive Queenstown

Queenstown, renowned as the adventure capital, holds the distinction of being the birthplace of tandem skydiving in New Zealand. The drop zone operated by NZONE Skydive, nestled at the base of the Remarkables, is hailed as "one of the premier locations worldwide for leaping out of a perfectly sound airplane."

Embark on an exhilarating journey as you soak in the breathtaking vistas of the Wakatipu basin before hurtling towards it at speeds of 200 kilometers per hour.

Queenstown's skydiving operators boast full qualifications and impeccable safety records, ensuring you can fully embrace the thrill with peace of mind.

27. Visit Arrowtown


Arrowtown, situated in the Otago region of New Zealand's South Island, holds historical significance as a former gold mining town.

Positioned alongside the Arrow River, approximately 7.5 kilometers from State Highway 6, it lies 19.5 kilometers east of Queenstown.

Accessible via State Highway 6 at Arrow Junction, as well as through Arthurs Point with direct road access to Queenstown, and a picturesque route via Lake Hayes, Arrowtown offers diverse travel options.

The town boasts numerous well-preserved buildings once utilized by European and Chinese immigrants who settled during the gold mining era, providing insight into its rich heritage.

28. Check out Hokitika Gorge

Hokitika Gorge

The Hokitika Gorge Walk stands out as a must-visit destination, offering the West Coast's most accessible and visually stunning experience throughout the year, regardless of weather conditions.

This leisurely stroll, spanning 2 kilometers and taking approximately 1 hour to complete, winds through mature forest alongside the picturesque Hokitika River. The trail leads visitors to the breathtakingly turquoise waters of the sheer rocky gorge, surrounded by striking white limestone cliffs and vibrant green rainforest. Hokitika Gorge is a true photographic marvel, showcasing nature's magnificent color palette.

Accessible via an easy, well-maintained forest trail, this iconic site is one of the West Coast's most recognizable and easily reached attractions, promising an unforgettable encounter with nature's splendor.

Also Read: Things to Do in New Zealand

29. See Albatross at Taiaroa Head

Taiaroa Head

Situated at the windswept tip of the Otago Peninsula, Pukekura/Taiaroa Head holds global acclaim as the sole mainland colony of albatross in the Southern Hemisphere.

Pukekura holds significant cultural importance for Māori, later dubbed Taiaroa Head by European settlers. Today, it is renowned worldwide as the sole mainland habitat for albatross in the Southern Hemisphere.

Management of this site is overseen by a collaborative trust comprising members from the Kāi Tahu rūnanga, Korako Karetai Trust, Dunedin City Council, and the Department of Conservation (DOC).

30. Drive Lindis Pass

Lindis Pass

Embark on a scenic drive through the heart of the Southern Alps on the breathtaking Lindis Pass. The picturesque Lindis Pass serves as a vital link connecting the Mackenzie Basin to Central Otago.

This pass traverses a saddle nestled between the valleys of the Lindis and Ahuriri Rivers, reaching an elevation of 971 meters above sea level. Throughout many months of the year, snow blankets the mountainous terrain, often extending down to the roadside.

Adjacent to the highway lies the Lindis Conservation Area, characterized by vast expanses of snow tussock grassland. Longslip Mountain, towering at 1494 meters, hosts one of the largest populations of buttercup ranunculus haastii in the Mackenzie Basin.

Among the diverse native bird species found here are the titipounamu (rifleman), riroriro (grey warbler), piwakawaka (fantail), and karearea (falcon).

31. Visit the Catlins Coast

Catlins Coast

The Catlins, also known as The Catlins Coast, encompasses a region located in the southeastern corner of New Zealand's South Island. Stretching between Balclutha and Invercargill, it straddles the boundary between the Otago and Southland regions and includes Slope Point, the southernmost point of the South Island.

Characterized by rugged terrain and low population density, the Catlins are habitats for numerous endangered bird species, notably the rare yellow-eyed penguin. The coastal area also attracts various marine mammals, including New Zealand fur seals and Hooker's sea lions.

The region frequently experiences wild weather and heavy ocean swells due to its exposed location, making it a draw for big-wave surfers but also posing risks, as evidenced by numerous shipwrecks.

32. Explore Nelson Lakes National Park

Nelson Lakes National Park

Nelson Lakes National Park is located in the north of New Zealand's South Island. The gateway to the park is St Arnaud, a 1-2 hour drive from Nelson or Blenheim.

Immerse yourself in the tranquil beauty of Nelson Lakes National Park, home to shimmering alpine lakes and rugged mountain peaks.

Hike through ancient beech forests, kayak on pristine lakes, or simply relax amidst the pristine wilderness, snow-covered mountains, and valleys created by glaciers during the ice ages.

33. Try White Water Rafting on Buller River

White Water Rafting

Experience the thrill of white water rafting on the exhilarating rapids of the Buller River.

Navigate through narrow gorges, turbulent waters, and adrenaline-pumping drops on this unforgettable rafting adventure.

34. Visit Wine Country in Marlborough


Indulge your senses with a visit to Marlborough, New Zealand's premier wine region, renowned for its world-class sauvignon blanc.

Explore boutique wineries, cellar doors, and vineyard restaurants amidst stunning rural landscapes.

35. Go Mountain Biking in Queenstown

Around The Basin Bike Queenstown

Embark on an adrenaline-fueled mountain biking adventure in the adventure capital of New Zealand. Choose from a variety of thrilling trails, from scenic rides along Lake Wakatipu to challenging downhill descents in the surrounding mountains.

36. Visit Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa

Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa

Relax and rejuvenate in the soothing thermal waters of Hanmer Springs, nestled amidst the picturesque landscapes of North Canterbury.

Soak in mineral-rich pools, indulge in spa treatments, and unwind in the tranquility of nature.

37. Go to Akaroa Harbour

Akaroa Harbour

Akaroa is a small town that sits on Akaroa Harbour, which is the largest body of water on Banks Peninsula. Here, you can find some fantastic restaurants, a museum and memorial, a small cinema, grocery stores, and restaurants.

You can also go on a scenic cruise through the pristine waters of Akaroa Harbour, a haven for marine life and natural beauty.

Spot playful dolphins, fur seals, and rare Hector's dolphins as you explore this tranquil coastal paradise.

38. Explore the West Coast Glaciers

Franz Josef Glacier

Witness the breathtaking spectacle of the West Coast glaciers, Franz Josef and Fox, as they descend from the Southern Alps to the lush rainforests below.

Situated along the West Coast of New Zealand's South Island, the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers captivate with their grandeur and magnificence. Close neighbors, it's common for visitors to explore both. Yet, if time is limited and a choice must be made, prioritize Franz Josef Glacier, often considered the more breathtaking of the two.

Take a guided glacier hike or scenic helicopter flight for an up-close encounter with these icy giants and enjoy one of the most unique things to do in the South Island.

39. Visit the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks

Punakaiki Pancake Rocks

Marvel at the unique geological formations of Punakaiki Pancake Rocks, where limestone cliffs have been sculpted by wind and waves into pancake-like layers.

Explore the network of walkways and blowholes for stunning coastal views.

40. Try Paragliding in Queenstown

G Force Paragliding

Soar like a bird above the stunning landscapes of Queenstown with a thrilling paragliding adventure.

Take to the skies with experienced pilots and enjoy panoramic views of Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding Southern Alps.

41. See Stars at Aoraki Mackenzie Dark Sky Reserve

Aoraki Mackenzie Dark Sky Reserve

Discover the wonders of the universe with a stargazing experience in the Aoraki Mackenzie Dark Sky Reserve.

Marvel at the brilliance of the Milky Way and observe distant galaxies, nebulae, and constellations in the pristine night sky.

42. Explore Queenstown Gardens

Queenstown Gardens

Escape the hustle and bustle of Queenstown with a leisurely stroll through the picturesque Queenstown Gardens.

Discover tranquil ponds, vibrant flower beds, and majestic old trees amidst stunning lake and mountain views.

43. Visit Te Papa Museum in Wellington

Te Papa Museum

Immerse yourself in New Zealand's rich cultural heritage with a visit to Te Papa, the country's national museum in Wellington.

Explore interactive exhibits, Maori artifacts, and natural history displays that celebrate the diverse stories of Aotearoa.

44. Drive to Glenorchy


Embark on one of the most scenic drives in the world along the shores of Lake Wakatipu to the picturesque town of Glenorchy.

Marvel at the majestic landscapes made famous by the Lord of the Rings trilogy and discover hidden gems along the way.

45. Explore Milford Track

Milford Track

Embark on a legendary journey along the Milford Track, often referred to as the finest walk in the world.

Trek through pristine wilderness, past cascading waterfalls and towering peaks, on this iconic multi-day hiking adventure.

46. See Wildlife on Otago Peninsula

Otago Peninsula

Encounter a diverse array of wildlife on the Otago Peninsula, from rare yellow-eyed penguins to majestic royal albatross.

Explore scenic reserves and secluded beaches, keeping an eye out for seals, sea lions, and a variety of bird species.

47. Try Surfing at Raglan

Raglan Surf School

Catch a wave in the laid-back surf town of Raglan, renowned for its world-class breaks and bohemian vibe.

Whether you're a seasoned surfer or a novice, Raglan offers perfect waves and stunning coastal scenery for all levels.

48. See The Wanaka Tree

Wanaka Tree

Sitting on Lake Wanaka, just a short distance from the shoreline, you can see a small willow tree, which also happens to be one of the most photographed spots in New Zealand.

It’s actually so famous on Instagram that it is called #ThatWanakaTree.

Photographed against the backdrop of snow-capped mountains, this solitary tree is seen as a symbol of natural splendor and serenity.

49. Go to Fox Glacier

Fox Glacier

Embark on a glacier adventure at Fox Glacier, one of the most accessible glaciers in the world.

Take a guided hike onto the icy terrain or soar above the glacier on a thrilling helicopter flight for a truly unforgettable experience.

50. Check out Lake Wanaka

Lake Wanaka

Nestled within the awe-inspiring Southern Alps of New Zealand's South Island, Lake Wanaka is conveniently located just an hour's drive from Queenstown. This proximity allows visitors to enjoy the tranquility away from the bustling town while still being surrounded by numerous hiking trails and attractions.

Two quintessential experiences in Wanaka include hiking during the summer months and skiing or snowboarding in winter.

The renowned Roy’s Peak Hike offers a challenging but rewarding trek, spanning approximately 8 hours round-trip with an elevation gain of 1,258m (4,127 ft) to reach breathtaking vistas.

FAQs Relating to New Zealand's South Island

Here are also some of the frequently asked questions relating to the best activities to do in South Island

Is NZ South Island worth it?

Absolutely! With its stunning mountain ranges, pristine lakes, rugged coastal scenery, and adrenaline-pumping activities like bungy jumping and jet boating, the South Island of New Zealand is definitely worth a visit.

While the North Island offers a blend of natural beauty, urban life, and indigenous culture, the South Island offers picturesque landscapes and remote wilderness, so it's worth exploring both the North and South Islands of New Zealand.

What is South Island known for?

The South Island is renowned for its breathtaking natural beauty, including majestic mountain ranges, crystal-clear lakes, pristine rivers, and dramatic coastal landscapes.

It's also famous for being the filming location for iconic movies like the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies.

How many days do you need in South Island?

While the ideal duration varies depending on your interests and itinerary, most travelers recommend spending at least 7 to 10 days on the South Island to fully experience its diverse attractions and stunning landscapes.

Summing Up: 50 Best Things to do in South Island, New Zealand

From adrenaline-pumping activities to serene moments in nature and historic sites, South Island, New Zealand, offers an endless array of experiences to suit every traveler's taste.

The South Island of New Zealand stands as a haven for adventure seekers and nature enthusiasts alike, boasting an unparalleled diversity of experiences.

With its stunning landscapes and boundless opportunities for exploration, it's no wonder the South Island of New Zealand remains a top destination for those seeking unforgettable adventures and tranquil moments in nature.