New Zealand‘s South Island tops adventure travel bucket lists, and with more flights than ever to this beautiful country it has never been simpler to go there. Experience nature on hiking or walking tours; drift along glacial lakes; or immerse yourself in its breathtaking scenery from an authentic farmstay experience.
Experience an electric blue lake full of floating icebergs as you cruise Tasman Glacier’s terminal lake in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park.
Milford Sound, nestled deep within Fiordland National Park, is one of New Zealand’s premier natural attractions. Formed when glaciers retreat and fill their former valleys with seawater, Milford Sound features stunning cliffs and permanent waterfalls; truly making this natural attraction one not to be missed!
At its heart lies an oasis of wildlife: bottlenose dolphins, fur seals and Fiordland crested penguins can all be seen throughout its waters. On a cruise through the sound, visitors can spot these aquatic residents from a safe vessel or embark on a guided walk and get even closer to these delightful creatures.
Clinton River winds its way through Fiordland National Park, and if there has been recent rainfall you might just catch sight of Stirling Falls – named for Frederick Stirling, captain of HMS Clio – this breathtaking 151 metre (400 foot) waterfall can be seen during Southern Discoveries cruises and kayaking tours.
No matter how you explore Milford Sound – by scenic cruise or walking tour – it is certainly worth making the 3.5 hour trip from Queenstown to Milford Sound. Along the way you’ll experience some of New Zealand’s most breathtaking views, stunning viewpoints, and top hiking trails – including Eglinton Valley which features yellow grass reminiscent of Lord of the Rings movies! Don’t miss a stop in Eglinton Valley as an unforgettable stopover.
Lake Tekapo is one of three roughly parallel lakes located in the Mackenzie Basin and stands out as being especially breathtaking with its milky blue water and picturesque backdrop of snow-capped mountains. Additionally, Lake Tekapo is known for its stunning lupin fields which bloom between late November and early February – providing photographers with plenty of photo opps!
The town itself is no less charming, boasting colorful buildings more fitting to an American city than Aotearoa. Spend an enjoyable hour wandering its streets and visiting quirky St Patrick’s Church before moving onto Burkes Pass for some retro fun – you won’t regret your decision!
Experience all that Tekapo Jet can offer by booking a lake cruise on the glacial blue waters to see its highlights, such as Moutariki Island and Church of the Good Shepherd. Additionally, this tour includes a short hike on its shores as well as the chance to spot drifting icebergs within these electric blue waters.
Lake Tekapo is one of New Zealand’s most breathtaking alpine landscapes, and Lake Tekapo stands out as a prime example. Lake Tekapo lies amid a backdrop of mountainous Southern Alps which stretch 500km down its center; their snowcapped peaks make an unforgettable view. Plus, experience Tasman Glacier (New Zealand’s largest) through an unforgettable glacier helicopter tour!
Kahurangi National Park
New Zealand’s second-largest national park offers stunning geological formations, native forests and wildlife. One of New Zealand’s four Great Walks–Heaphy Track–invokes an immersive wilderness experience in this park which boasts the country’s highest bird species count, most varied plant varieties and an astounding collection of cave systems.
As well as boasting abundant vegetation and fauna, the forest resounds with the sounds of birdsong.
There are some ethereal places within this park, like Cleopatra’s Pool with its blue pools and waterfalls or Harwood’s Hole walk with its deepest vertical shaft and natural waterslide – both featuring swing bridges for accessing them. But where the real magic lies is on mountaintops where rocky outcrops, fluted rocks, arches are illuminated by late morning sunbeams.
The upper reaches of Wangapeka River are an internationally acclaimed trout fishery, boasting vibrant beech trees dappled with green and gold leaves that shimmer in the sunlight, alpine buttercups lining its banks, and lush nikau and karaka groves that seem transported straight from Northland into South Island depressions. If walking isn’t your cup of tea, scenic helicopter flights offer another great way to take in this park from above!
Marlborough Sounds offers an extraordinary landscape rich with tranquil natural beauty, wildlife, and early New Zealand history. This scenic playground consists of sunken sea valleys which connect bays, inlets and islands that have yet to be settled by humans; making up some of New Zealand’s most vital conservation efforts; marine mammals such as penguins, seals and rare birds can often be found here.
Experience the splendor of the Sounds by taking a cruise around a reserve or exploring one of its pristine wilderness beaches. A kayak tour offers another wonderful opportunity to take in its breathtaking scenery from water level, suitable for anyone with reasonable fitness levels.
Marlborough Sound offers the ideal setting to escape from daily life’s pressures – be it sipping chilled sauvignon blanc local wine at your beachside lodge, or exploring its wild flora and fauna of a reserve.
Picton, a charming coastal village nestled at the base of rolling green hills, offers great sightseeing. Take the Interislander Cook Strait ferry that runs between Wellington and Picton to experience spectacular sights of Marlborough Sounds’ natural world!