About the South Island
New Zealand’s rugged South Island is home to spectacular scenery, mesmerising southern stars and endless intrepid adventures.
The two main airports are Christchurch and Queenstown which both offer easy access to the rest of the South Island’s diverse areas. A more impressive arrival is by Cook Strait ferry from the North Island. Your journey leads you into the scenic Marlborough Sound, a network of sea drowned valleys that create a protective and welcoming cove as you reach the South Island mainland.
Running the entire length of the South Island, you’ll find the towering peaks and glaciers of the Southern Alps. Franz Josef and Fox Glacier on the west coast offer visitors an opportunity to admire ice flows or take a scenic helicopter to get a staggering bird’s eye view. In the south, mountains collide with the ocean in a series of magnificent fiords, including Milford and Doubtful Sound.
Situated within the heart of the Southern Alps you’ll find lively and exciting Queenstown, known as the adventure capital of New Zealand. Activities here range from tranquil cruises of the sounds and walks through historic Arrowtown, to more thrilling jet boating, bungy jumping and luging from the top of the Skyline. There are also several long distance walking tracks in this impressive area.
The South Island’s largest city is Christchurch, set at the base of the wildlife rich Akaroa Peninsula. Christchurch suffered a devastating earthquake in 2011 but the city’s passion for re-building with style and pulling together as a strong community is keenly felt. The creative Cardboard Cathedral, welcoming Hagley Park and buzzing new food districts are all great to visit. Just north of Christchurch, discover the sperm whale-watching port of Kaikoura where you can choose to enjoy these magnificent animals from a boat or helicopter tour.
In the very south of the South Island, uncover the unique Scottish heritage of the city of Dunedin, Gaelic for Edinburgh, which boasts New Zealand’s only castle. Off the southern tip of the South Island, remote Stewart Island is one of the last places to see kiwis in the wild.