A Guide to New Zealand's South Island • Freedom Destinations
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Discover The South Island Falls, fjords, mountains and more!

South Island New Zealand

With more sheep than people, you are never short of wide open spaces in New Zealand, especially in the less populated South Island. Discover this outdoor lover’s paradise, from the world famous wine-producing regions in the north to the impressive glaciers and fiords in the south.

Christchurch – New Zealand’s garden city and main gateway to the South Island combines traditional English heritage with modern and creative re-build designs.

Queenstown – set against the striking Southern Alps, Queenstown also affords views of Lake Wakatipu and is an adventure playground for adrenalin junkies throughout all seasons.

Around South Island – explore further with a cruise through grand Milford Sound, a scenic flight over Franz Joseph Glacier or the excitement of whale watching in Kaikoura.

Plan your holiday

Things to do in the South Island

  • See breath-taking views along the Abel Tasman Coastal Track
  • Land on Franz Josef Glacier with a scenic helicopter tour
  • Observe Punakaiki’s Pancake Rocks and Blowholes on the west coast
  • Spot sperm whales off the shores of Kaikoura
  • Get closer to the falls with a cruise of photo-worthy Milford Sound
  • Ride the Skyline gondola for panoramic views of Queenstown
  • Relax under a blanket of southern stars in Lake Tekapo’s hot pools
  • Uncover historical architecture in Dunedin
  • Take a wine tour by bike through Marlborough’s world-famous vineyards
  • Search for dolphins on an Akaroa boat cruise

Getting There

South Island is perfect for adventure travellers.

By Boat – The Interislander ferry is a vehicle and passenger ferry that operates between the North and South Islands, taking around three hours.

By Air – Most major UK airports fly into Christchurch and Queenstown. There are many smaller airports throughout the South Island that offer domestic flights around New Zealand.

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.

Create the Ultimate New Zealand Holiday

However you’d like to experience New Zealand, our team of expert staff can make it happen.

For a holiday designed for you, call 0333 234 3209 or Enquire online