New Zealand's South Island has alpine delights and natural wonders.

From hiking on glaciers to kayaking with dolphins, you can enjoy a range of active experiences while you’re surrounded by some of the most beautiful places in New Zealand’s South Island. If you’re looking for the perfect South Island itinerary, you’ve come to the right place. A New Zealand South Island tour promises breathtaking scenery, heart-pumping adrenaline activities, fascinating cultural experiences, and some of the best food and wine on the planet. There are plenty more top things to do in New Zealand’s South Island as well, from overnight scenic cruises to cultural exchanges and exciting adventure tours. From sampling the region’s famous wine near Queenstown to sleeping on Milford Sound and meeting the world’s rarest kiwi, there are plenty of great things to do in New Zealand’s South Island.

Our South Island Tours

5 Days From 2606

Take five days to discover New Zealand’s natural North Island with Intrepid. From Lake...

8 Days From 4775

Uncover the natural wonders of New Zealand’s North Island on an eight-day Premium...

17 Days From 10230

Discover the best of New Zealand on a 17-day Premium adventure, taking in the most...

7 Days From 2595

Spend seven days with Intrepid on a family-focused South Island adventure in New...

3 Days From 1315

Explore lakes, mountains and rivers on this three-day Wanaka retreat, taking in...

Tailor-Made trips

Take two or more on an exclusive trip and tailor your itinerary

4 Days From 1730

Take in the spectacular scenery of the South Island on a 4-day walking adventure along...

10 Days From 3545

Discover New Zealand’s North Island at its very best on a 10-day journey from Auckland...

14 Days From 5565

Explore the best of New Zealand’s North Island on a 14-day adventure, covering Auckland...

4 Days From 1605

Get out of town and uncover the tastes and traditions of sweeping Hawke’s Bay on this...

4 Days From 1545

Explore lakes, mountains and rivers on a 4-day Wanaka adventure, taking in Arrowtown,...

5 Days From 2250

Soak up the sunshine and scenery of the beautiful Bay of Islands on a five-day...

South Island Highlights

Jetboat on the Shotover River

Take on New Zealand’s most famous jetboat ride which is located on the Shotover River where you can zoom between high canyon walls, cha cha across the water and spin 360 degrees.

Visit the West Coast Wildlife Centre

Join a behind the scenes tour of the West Coast Wildlife Centre and get up close and personal with the world's rarest kiwi and see New Zealand’s most notable reptile, the Tuatara.

Hike to Franz Josef Glacier

Pull on your walking shoes and hike to the blue ice and rugged mountains of Franz Josef Glacier, which is one of the steepest glaciers in New Zealand, or you could even join a heli-tour.

Overnight on Milford Sound

Surrounded by incredible scenery during the day and a night sky scattered with stars, there is always something to see on an overnight cruise on Milford Sound.   

Hike to the Blue Pools

Widely regarded as one of New Zealand’s best short walks, join a biodiversity specialist for a hike along the Blue Pools Track between Wanaka and the West Coast.  

Surround yourself with wilderness

The South Island of New Zealand is famous for its pristine wilderness and outdoor experiences such as kayak tours, hiking adventures, and rafting trips.

South Island Tour Reviews

South Island FAQs

The two major airports for New Zealand's South Island are Christchurch or Queenstown. Flying into Christchurch is generally cheaper than flying into Queenstown, especially during ski season. Vehicle ferry services which also take foot passengers travel between Wellington in the North Island and Picton at the tip of the South Island daily and take around three-and-a-half hours. 

Most people hire a car or a motorhome or book a New Zealand tour to travel around the South Island of New Zealand. InterCity buses are also available for long distance travel to the major towns in the South Island. 

If you would like to go skiing, the best time to visit the South Island is from late June to early September. Visiting outside the school holidays is the best option if you aren't travelling with school age children as New Zealand's South Island is popular for family holidays and gets busy during these times. Summer is pleasantly warm with low humidity and days which are generally clear and sunny. Winter sees snow on the mountains and in the middle of the South Island. Some inland roads can be closed at times due to snow so plan your journey accordingly. Spring sees less crowds and is ideal for hiking and outdoor pursuits. 

The weather in the South Island can be changeable so pack clothes you can layer plus a jumper or jacket, wet weather gear, a hat and a beanie. Even if you are visiting in winter, a pair of shorts and a t-shirt is a good idea if you are planning on going hiking as it can be get surprisingly warm in the middle of the day during the cooler months. 

The South Island of New Zealand is a fairly casual place although locals do tend to dress up if they are 'hitting the town' at night in major towns like Queenstown or Christchurch. Smart casual is the norm at most restaurants, aside from the signature 'date night' ones where people tend to dress up more. 

There is good WiFi coverage in major towns and tourist centres in the South Island of New Zealand but it is not uncommon to lose coverage in some situations such as when you are driving through mountains or hiking in remote areas. 

There is good mobile coverage in major towns and tourist centres in the South Island of New Zealand but it is not uncommon to lose coverage in some situations such as when you are driving through mountains or hiking in remote areas. 

Intrepid is committed to making travel widely accessible, regardless of ability or disability. That’s why we do our best to help as many people see the world as possible, regardless of any physical or mental limitations they might have. Some of the walking and hiking trails in the South Island are accessible but others can make walking difficult for travellers who are less mobile on foot. However, we’re always happy to talk to travellers with disabilities and see if we can help guide them towards the most suitable itinerary for their needs and where possible, make reasonable adjustments to our itineraries.

Learn more about Accessible Travel with Intrepid

Read more about New Zealand

Aug 27, 2021
Arrowtown: the ultimate guide to exploring...

It turns out that Queenstown is not where Mother Nature's beauty ends...

Jun 23, 2021
Family fun for every age in Australia and New...

Even if your family has already seen a lot of Australia and New Zealand, these kid...

Jun 25, 2021
6 culturally cool activities in Australia and...

Get your culture on with these cool cultural activities in Australia and New...