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. If you're having trouble figuring out whether you should explore the South Island or the North Island of New Zealand, you simply have to look at all the fun experiences to be had, 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 observing the famous kiwi bird in Christchurch, there are plenty of great things to do in New Zealand’s South Island.
Our South Island Tours
South Island Highlights
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.
Read more about New Zealand