South Island Holidays

South Island, New Zealand

beautiful south island holidays in new zealand

The South Island of New Zealand will thrill you with its dramatic mountain and coastal scenery, and its many adventure activities. The west coast of the island is dominated by the spectacular Southern Alps, with Aoraki/Mount Cook the highest point at 3,754 metres (12,316 feet), comparably in height to the Canadian Rockies. Queenstown is the best known tourist centre with skiing in winter and mountain hikes and watersports on its lake during summer. The north is know for the wine regions of Marlborough and Nelson, home to one of three great walks in the South Island. Abel Tasman is a coastal walk with beautiful beaches whilst in the southern part of the island are the Routeburn and Milford Track meandering around the mountain wilderness. Keikora on the north east coast is known as the best spots in the world to watch giant Sperm Whales .

South Island


South Island Holidays Planner

The island was named 'Te Waka a Maui' by the Maori people. According to legend the South Island is "Maui's Canoe', used by the legendary Polynesian explorer to fish the North Island out of the sea.

The two main towns are Christchurch and Dunedin, both on the east coast amongst the rich farming regions of Otago and Canterbury. The resort town of Queenstown lies inland from Dunedin at the base of the alps is a year-round adventure mecca, with skiing, bungy jumping, white-water rafting, jet-boating and hiking all popular with visitors who are young or young at heart. Less adventurous travellers enjoy lake cruises and day walks into the mountains to enjoy the spectacular alpine scenery.

The South Island is also famous for its glaciers, which come within 250 metres of sea level, grinding past lush temperate rainforests along the sparsely populated west coast. Franz Josef and Fox glaciers are the most accessible, with the faces of the glaciers only 20 minutes walk from the nearby towns. Ice-trekking tours up onto the surface of the glaciers are extremely popular, and bookings are advised in the peak summer months of December to February.

Another of the South Island's gems, Milford Sound, is located in the World-Heritage listed Fiordland in the south-west of the island. Boat tours into the sound reward visitors with breathtaking views of the mountains standing straight up out of the sparkling, clear blue waters. The slopes of the mountains are covered in lush temperate rainforests, with waterfalls cascading down their slopes.

South Island Accommodation Search

New Zealanders are known for their hospitality, and you'll find a friendly welcome in the many hotels, apartments, B&Bs and holiday parks throughout the South Island. Please search for our favourite accommodations in south island to find current availability and get the best room rates from over 100 booking sources:

South Island Travel Info
The city of Christchurch is the main gateway to the South Island, with international flights arriving from the east coast of Australia and Los Angeles. In the winter months Queenstown also has some direct flights to and from Australia.

The South Island has an excellent network of roads, with many visitors choosing to hire motor-homes in Christchurch and do self-drive tours of the island. An inter-island ferry service operates between the North and South Islands. The Tranzalpine railway between Christchurch and the west coast is regarded as one of the best rail journeys in the world.

The South Island has a temperate climate, with average daytime temperatures in Christchurch of 22.5° C (72.5° F) and winter daytime temperatures of 11.3° C (52.3° F). Temperatures in the alpine areas of the southern alps are much colder.

You'll leave the South Island refreshed and rejuvenated, having had an unforgettable holiday experience.