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South Island

Day Trips

Our most recommended South Island Day Trips

Te Anau: Glowworm Caves Guided Tour

1. 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 water, you will be taken by small boat into a silent hidden grotto inhabited by thousands of glowworms, unique to New Zealand. In the subterranean darkness, they produce a glittering display that is nothing short of extraordinary.

Milford Sound Nature Cruise on Premium Glass-Roof Catamaran

2. Milford Sound Nature Cruise on Premium Glass-Roof Catamaran

Climb aboard 'Gem of the Sound', the newest vessel to cruise in the fiord, for a Milford Sound nature cruise. Capture the best views of the incredible fiord with three-levels of indoor and outdoor seating, unique glass roofs, and large viewing decks. Your friendly crew will welcome you on board and embrace you as one of the family, whilst you marvel at one of the most stunning places on earth. Relax in the comfortable booth seating with stylish decor and ambient lighting. High-definition cameras project outdoor footage live onto TV screens throughout the vessel - so no matter where are, you won't miss a thing. Admire New Zealand fur seals basking on rocks and feel the spray of cascading waterfalls. Look out for playful dolphins and, if you’re lucky, catch a glimpse of the rare and elusive Fiordland Crested Penguin. Travel the length of the fiord and out into the Tasman Sea, to see why Captain Cook failed to discover Milford Sound after charting the Fiordland National Park.

Franz Josef Glacier: 2.5-Hour Hike with Helicopter Transfer

3. Franz Josef Glacier: 2.5-Hour Hike with Helicopter Transfer

Soar to Franz Josef Glacier and see this 12-kilometer-long behemoth from above on a roundtrip helicopter tour from Franz Josef. Touch down on the glacier and follow your guide on a guided hike. Take in dazzling ice formations and stay warm with winter clothing and snacks along the way. Start your journey at the glacier base in Franz Josef Town, where the team will check you in. Get kitted out with the essential gear and listen to a safety briefing. Once you are ready, follow your guide on a short walk through the native forest to the helipad to board the helicopter. After a thrilling scenic flight high above rugged terrain, land on Franz Josef Glacier and set off on a 2.25-hour guided hike. With an eye for the most spectacular ice formations, your guide will lead you through some of the most awe-inspiring glacier scenery New Zealand has to offer. Each trip is tailored to the ability of your group, as well as the conditions on the day of your tour. During the hike, your guide will tell you stories about the local area and share their knowledge of the glacier and surrounding terrain. The glacier's features are constantly changing, so you might find yourself sliding through a narrow crevasse or between towering walls of ice, crawling through blue ice tunnels, hanging out in ice caves, or witnessing the glacier calving.

Mount Cook: Scenic Helicopter Flight with Alpine Landing

4. Mount Cook: Scenic Helicopter Flight with Alpine Landing

Experience Mount Cook National Park from the sky. Enjoy a 25-minute scenic adventure that includes an alpine landing amongst the mountains. Have exceptional views of Aoraki (Mt Cook) and the surrounding snow-capped mountain ranges right from take off.  Be captivated throughout the entire flight. Explore the valleys and peaks of the national park. Journey through the Tasman Valley and over a breathtaking blue glacier lake. Experience an alpine landing on the stunning upper snowfields in the Southern Alps.  Disembark the aircraft and enjoy the elevated alpine landscape before returning to the helicopter to fly back to Mount Cook Airport. Your expert pilot will offer informative and interesting commentary throughout the flight to ensure you receive the best possible experience.

From Te Anau: Milford Sound Small Group Bus Tour and Cruise

5. From Te Anau: Milford Sound Small Group Bus Tour and Cruise

Start your day in central Te Anau as you board a modern tour bus and begin to explore Fiordland's stunning natural beauty. Knowledgeable local guides will share everything their homeland has to offer through informative commentary, scenic photo stops, and short nature walks. Cruise the full length of Milford Sound, and take in the spectacular scenery as mountains plunge into the deep waters of the Fiord. Ancient rainforests give way to towering waterfalls dropping from hanging valleys sparkling into the ocean below. Milford Sound is abundant with unique birds and wildlife. See seals lounging on the rocks and playing in the shallows. On occasion dolphins, whales, and the very rare Fiordland Crested Penguin visit the sounds providing privileged photo opportunities. Enjoy the fantastic scenery and nature walks without large crowds in order to fully admire the true wilderness and grand scenery of Fiordland National Park. Hop on board Milford Sound's only premium glass roof catamaran for a 2-hour scenic cruise. Enjoy a picnic on board while you take in the scenery from a different perspective.

Queenstown: Pilot's Choice Helicopter Tour & Alpine Landing

6. Queenstown: Pilot's Choice Helicopter Tour & Alpine Landing

Enjoy a 20-minute scenic helicopter tour and alpine landing for incredible views of Queenstown from above. Your pilot will choose your flight path and landing location for the best possible experience on the day. After pickup from your central Queenstown hotel, enjoy the short drive to the helicopter base at the airport. Meet the friendly crew and check in for your flight. Then, take to the skies to marvel at Lake Wakatipu and Queenstown from above. Your experienced pilot will share local insights with you and point out areas of interest. Your pilot will choose the best location on the day for your alpine landing. Only a helicopter will be able to land in the remote spot. In winter, you’ll have snow at your feet, and during summer expect stunningly rugged terrain. Fly back to the helicopter base where your tour will conclude with a transfer back to your hotel.

Fox Glacier: 3-Hour Hike with Scenic Helicopter Transfer

7. Fox Glacier: 3-Hour Hike with Scenic Helicopter Transfer

Enjoy a thrilling hiking and helicopter experience on Fox Glacier. Marvel at dramatic landscapes from above, including spectacular ice caves, icefalls and Victoria Falls, which is the melted river from the hidden Victoria glacier. Land on the ice in a remote and exceptionally beautiful part of the glacier. At this stage, your guide outfits you with crampons, specially designed for ice conditions and you follow the ice steps cut by your guide as you explore the amazing formations and ice caves which are only seen here. Each departure is a truly unique experience as there are so many changing features, even the guides always find something new. Depending on the weather, spend up to 3 hours on the ice before boarding your helicopter to return to the helicopter base.

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

8. 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 deep blue waters. Savor a freshly prepared picnic lunch. Marvel at the impressive natural landscape and keep a lookout for native wildlife like dolphins, seals and penguins. Be fascinated by live commentary from your skipper in the open wheelhouse. Get within touching distance of impressive glaciar-carved rock walls and feel the full force of the powerful 15,000-year-old Stirling Falls on your face. Awed and satisfied, rejoin your driver for the scenic return journey to Queenstown. 

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

9. From Queenstown: Milford Sound Full-Day Trip by Plane & Boat

Combine a flight and a cruise on Milford Sound on this excursion from Queensland. Take in the area's outstanding natural beauty as you savor the sights from both air and water. Enjoy a pickup and transfer to the air hanger in Queenstown. Listen to informative commentary in English and marvel at the stunning views of lakes, mountains, and waterfalls on the 40-minute flight. Upon landing, transfer to the Milford Sound Boat Terminal. Board in Milford Sound and experience 2 hours onboard an intimate vessel with English commentary by your skipper, and complimentary tea and coffee. Cruise to the mouth of the Tasman Sea, while enjoying views of waterfalls and marine life like fur seals, dolphins, and penguins. Next, board your scenic flight back to Queenstown. Take a different flight path from your outbound flight as you admire the spectacular views of Fiordland National Park. After the 40-minute journey back to Queenstown, enjoy complimentary transfer back to your accommodation.

Cruise & Kayak Milford Sound

10. Cruise & Kayak Milford Sound

Your tour starts off with a cruise along the entire length of the sound and out to the Tasman Sea on a Nature cruise. Each cruise has a different focus and explores a different part of the sound, so pick the one that's best for you! Towards the end of your cruise you will be dropped off at the Milford Sound Underwater Observatory to journey through the history, geology and wildlife of Milford Sound and visit New Zealand's only floating underwater observatory to view rare black coral. Then, your specialist kayak and nature guide will take you over to the kayaking pontoon to enjoy up to 90 minutes of relaxing kayaking in serene Harrison Cove. Gaze through the glacier-fed waters as you kayak in one of the most majestic places in the world. This is an intimate experience with a maximum of 8 kayaks per tour including a specialist kayak and nature guide to point out the fjord features and wildlife. No previous experience is necessary and we even have an automated lift for easy entry and exit from the kayaks.

Frequently asked questions about South Island Day Trips

What are other things to do than Day Trips that are worth visiting in South Island?

The other unmissable things to do in South Island are:

Other Sightseeing Options in South Island

Want to discover all there is to do in South Island? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about South Island

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 1,258 reviews

What a magnificent flight with Kylie, we were buzzing for the rest of the day. The views are gorgeous, what a place to see from the sky. Weren’t expecting to land in paradise so that also blew us away. Thank you so much Kylie, the number 1 pilot!

We loved our heli flight, not only were the views majestical! well organised, super friendly staff, running on time!

Guide was fantastic and scenery was awesome, well worth the trip. Nice touch with the starter pack.

John was an excellent driver and guide. Very informative & on schedule. Highly recommended.

Everything was perfect Ian the driver was so knowledgeable.