South Island

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Top attractions in South Island


Our most recommended things to do in South Island

  • Otago Central Rail Trail E-Bike Self-Guided Cycling Trail

    1. Otago Central Rail Trail E-Bike Self-Guided Cycling Trail

    In Clyde, you are fitted with your E-bike and briefed for your tour. Your driver will then take you to Auripo, on the way go through historic Ophir crossing one of New Zealand’s most iconic bridges, the Daniel O Connell Bridge. Built in the 1880's, Lord of the Rings fans may recognise it and your driver will give you a full commentary on all things local on the way. On arrival at Auripo, you will cycle off down the trail to the Poolburn Gorge. First up is the 40m high Railway Viaduct, closely followed by 2 tunnels. You will then cross the longest bridge on the Trail, and find little village of Lauder with the original train station (returned to the original spot after years of fundraising) awaits. From Lauder continues onto Omakau, from here you can add on a short detour to Ophir, check out New Zealand’s oldest operating Post Office, cross the historic stone bridge and re-join the Trai...

  • Mount Cook Ultimate Alpine Helicopter & Ski Plane Experience

    2. Mount Cook Ultimate Alpine Helicopter & Ski Plane Experience

    Explore the Mount Cook area from the ground and the air on this thrilling helicopter and ski plane tour. Start off by driving through the Kawarau Gorge for stunning views, enter the fruit and wine region of Cromwell as you pass huge fields of vines, cross Lake Dunstan and follow this beautiful lake towards Lindis Pass, which offers stunning views of the valleys below. See several of the famous Merino sheep on the drive before arriving in Omarama and continuing to Lake Pukaki, a brilliant blue lake framed by Aoraki and Mount Cook. Next, get ready for an unforgettable ski plane experience and helicopter ride which includes a glacier snow landing on the Tasman Glacier. Spend two and a half hours of free time in the national park before making your way back to High Country Salmon, a local salmon farm, where you can feed the fish and taste some of the freshest salmon in New Zealand.

  • TSS Earnslaw: Queenstown Cruise & Walter Peak Gourmet BBQ

    3. TSS Earnslaw: Queenstown Cruise & Walter Peak Gourmet BBQ

    This half-day activity begins and concludes with a 45-minute cruise across Queenstown’s Lake Wakatipu onboard the historic TSS Earnslaw. Spend a few hours enjoying the culinary delights at Walter Peak High Country Station, including an entertaining farm demonstration the whole family will enjoy. Feel free to take advantage of the extensive lay-out of this incredible steam-ship – she is a floating museum of her own history, and you are more than welcome to enter the engine room where you can watch our hardy coal-stokers as they keep this beautiful lady of the lake gliding across the aqua waters of Lake Wakatipu. Overlooking Lake Wakatipu and Queenstown’s incredible alpine scenery, the Colonel’s Homestead at Walter Peak is the perfect place to spend a beautiful day in Central Otago. It’s colonial architecture and sweeping grounds evoke the elegance of a bygone era. Spend your time wanderi...

    The steam boat and watching the engine being fueled was great. The food and service was fantastic at Walter Peak. We had a great relaxing time

  • TSS Earnslaw: 1.5-Hour Cruise From Queenstown

    4. TSS Earnslaw: 1.5-Hour Cruise From Queenstown

    Join the TSS Earnslaw for a 1.5-hour cruise across Lake Wakatipu. Admire spectacular alpine scenery and enjoy plenty of time to explore a piece of living history. Listen to engaging commentary from your experienced captain who will highlight points of interest throughout your cruise. Make your way to Steamer Wharf at Queenstown’s waterfront. Climb aboard the oldest working coal-fired passenger steamship in the southern hemisphere and feel free to explore! View the collection of historical photos in the small onboard museum and check out the skipper’s wheelhouse. Visit the engine room to feel the heat of the giant steam engines at work and see the stokers shovel coal into the glowing fireboxes.  Soak in the dramatic mountain views surrounding Lake Wakatipu and relax at the cafe where you can enjoy a wine or beer and snacks are also available for purchase. 

    Wonderful to watch coal being hand shoveled in to the boat's boilers and see the pistons working. Wonderful to feel like you have stepped back in to another day and age. Well worth the trip cost.

  • From Queenstown: Milford Sound Full-Day Trip by Bus & Boat

    5. From Queenstown: Milford Sound Full-Day Trip by Bus & Boat

    Take the hassle out of driving to Milford Sound and join a guided coach tour from Queenstown. Sit back, relax and enjoy magnificent scenery and informative commentary. Your experienced local coach driver will show you the best views along the Milford Road and connect you seamlessly with a 2-hour nature cruise. Travel in a spacious coach with USB charging ports. Marvel at the native rainforest, spectacular waterfalls and glacial lakes. Pause briefly in Te Anau before continuing along the spectacular alpine Milford Road. Admire incredible views at Eglinton Valley, Mirror Lakes, Knobbs Flat or Monkey Creek and pose for photos. Be wowed by the glaciar-carved Milford Sound as you approach the visitor terminal. Seize your cruise and lunch passes from the driver who’ll help you find your cruise departure gate.  Climb aboard a purpose-built catamaran for a nature cruise along the fiord’s de...

    We had a wonderful time in the Milford Sound bus tour and cruise with Southern Discoveries. Even though it was raining, our guide and driver, Brad, made sure we stopped for photos along the drive and kept us entertained with useful and interesting knowledge about the area. Due to high winds,however, we had to turn back from going on the cruise around the Milford Sound. Our guide was sincerely apologetic about the cancellation and I reckon he felt worse than we did! So we re-booked to go on the tour again the next day (complimentary passes) to a lovely clear day and were thoroughly mesmerized by the scenery of the road trip to the Sound and the Sound itself! It was 2 tours for the price of 1! We truly live in God's country and many thanks to Brad for sharing his inexhaustible knowledge and genuine love of the South Island with us. His recommendations on eateries and places to visit was also spot on. We will certainly be back! Thank you very much for making our trip so memorable!

  • TSS Earnslaw: Cruise and Walter Peak Farm Tour

    6. TSS Earnslaw: Cruise and Walter Peak Farm Tour

    Start with a scenic cruise, crossing Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak High Country Farm. Explore the decks, visit the steam room, or chat with the captain in the wheelhouse. You’ll find a licensed cafe on board. Disembark at Walter Peak and join the host for a farmyard tour. Get up close to sheep, deer, and highland cattle. Help feed the farm animals, watch a farm demonstration, and explore the lakeside gardens. Enjoy a morning or afternoon tea including scones, muffins, coffee, and tea. The Walter Peak Farm tour is the perfect way to get a taste of New Zealand's farming lifestyle in an interactive way. This 3.5-hour tour is suitable for all ages.

    Great day overall. Old steamer very interesting and nice cafe and bar. Farm trip was brilliant and well organised. Beautiful facilities at Walter Farm and the animals and dog display were fun and educational.

  • From Te Anau: 1-Day Milford Sound Coach & Cruise

    7. From Te Anau: 1-Day Milford Sound Coach & Cruise

    If Milford Sound is the 8th wonder of the world, the road to Milford is surely the 9th. The overland journey is a spectacular showcase of sheer mountains and towering cliffs, rugged valleys and the native rain forest surrounded by spectacular waterfalls and glacial lakes. Be taken to Milford Sound while you sit back, relax and enjoy the magnificent scenery and informative commentary. Your experienced, local coach driver will show you the best short walks and photo stops on the Milford Road, and will connect you seamlessly with the Milford Sound Nature Cruise. Milford Sound is approximately a 5-hour drive or 45 minute flight from Queenstown. The Milford Coach & Cruise trips depart daily from Queenstown and Te Anau with return scenic flights available (weather permitting) – meaning you’ll see even more.

    Best Milford Sound experience you could book! Southern Discoveries are a great company for this tour! Thanks again to our driver who was spectacular!

  • Queenstown: Spirit of Queenstown Lake Wakatipu Scenic Cruise

    8. Queenstown: Spirit of Queenstown Lake Wakatipu Scenic Cruise

    Cruise farther and see more on this 1.5-hour Queenstown scenic cruise. Sit back, relax and enjoy spectacular views of the Remarkables, Bob’s Cove, Cecil Peak and Mt. Earnslaw from the comfort of the Spirit of Queenstown – an environmentally friendly and luxurious cruise boat. Take in panoramic views from the open top deck. Enjoy refreshments, snacks and lunch served in the café on board. Cruise across spectacular Lake Wakatipu as you enjoy entertaining commentary provided by the local skipper.

    It was good. Obviously be better if we were not in level 2.5 Staff were great. Found it hard to hear the commentary but the scenery made up for that. Fantastic value for money too.

  • Te Anau: Glowworm Caves Guided Tour

    9. Te Anau: Glowworm Caves Guided Tour

    Experience a mysterious underground world of rushing water before drifting in darkness beneath the luminous shimmer of hundreds of glowworms.  Your trip to the Te Anau Glowworm Caves begins with a cruise to the western shores of Lake Te Anau. At the entry to the caves, view the informative displays and learn about this geological wonder before you head underground. On the tour of the caves, your friendly guide will point out the highlights and share their knowledge of the caves and its history. This underground world is astonishingly beautiful. The cave are 12,000 years old which by geological standards is still very young and they are still being carved out by the force of the river that flows through them. The result is a twisting network of limestone passages filled with sculpted rock, whirlpools and a roaring underground waterfall. Deep inside the caves, beyond the roar of the wat...

    Fantastic adventure, beautiful trip across the lake followed by incredible caves and native forest. Helpful and informative guides made the trip that much more engaging.

  • Abel Tasman: Scenic Cruise to Anchorage Bay from Kaiteriteri

    10. Abel Tasman: Scenic Cruise to Anchorage Bay from Kaiteriteri

    Cruise from Kaiteriteri to Anchorage Bay and back on a scenic boat shuttle ride. When you arrive, take your time relaxing on the beach or choose between several short walks. Explore Anchorage Bay and see the DOC (Department of Conservation) Hut. Walk on the golden, sandy beach with its sheltered and calm waters, making it an ideal destination for families. After walking, swimming, sunbathing, and relaxing, board the boat shuttle to return to Kaiteriteri at 11:45 AM or 3:45 PM departure. You can also ask your captain if there are any more departure times that day. Walks you may wish to explore from Anchorage Bay include: • Te Pukatea Bay: 50 minutes return • Te Pukatea Bay via Pitt Head and panoramic viewpoints: 1.5-hour loop track • Cleopatra’s Pool (Torrent River): 2 hours return • Watering Cove: 50 minutes return • Astrolabe Lookout (turn right for 5 minutes at top of Watering Cove...

    Perfect weather day. Saw Split Rock, fur seals and the final destination, Anchorage Day was SPECTACULAR. We stayed 3 hours. Opted out of the various bush walks as we had done several. Instead we walked along the long fine golden sandy beach. Barefeet. Needed that! Loved it

Frequently asked questions about South Island

Which tours in South Island are taking additional COVID-19 precautions?

These experiences in South Island are taking additional COVID-19 precautions:

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Other Sightseeing Options in South Island

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What people are saying about South Island

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 6,841 reviews

A wonderful experience seeing Kiwi hospitality at its best and the most beautiful South Island scenery. great value for money. Enjoyed every minute. thanks.

A wonderful experience seeing Kiwi hospitality at its best and the most beautiful South Island scenery. great value for money. Enjoyed every minute. thanks.

Totally magical experience go when it’s raining (which is often) and get wet just beautiful!

Highly recommend. We had such a Blast. Staff were excellent & really friendly

Very well organised. Excellent and informative driver, Gabe.