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South Island Holiday

Larger, less populated and harder to reach than the northern “Main Island,” this area features New Zealand’s longest glacier, its highest mountain and much more.

The landscapes of New Zealand’s South Island are hard to believe. Perhaps this is why New Zealand film director Peter Jackson featured them so often in his world-famous adaptations of the fantasy book trilogy, The Lord of the Rings. Massive peaks rising out of plains, crystal-clear mountain lakes and near vertical-faced fjords all await you on New Zealand’s less populated but more picturesque island.

Begin by discovering the island’s Pacific Coast. Christchurch is the largest city on South Island and the second largest in New Zealand. Enjoy the massive Botanic Gardens of the “Garden City,” and then travel nearly a kilometer out of town by gondola to get an overhead view of Crater Rim, a collapsed volcano to the east. If you’re looking for more of a beach town, drive south along the coast to Dunedin. Surf on St. Clair Beach, then head into town to enjoy its heritage buildings and Scottish charm.

Running all the way along South Island is a dramatic mountain range that rises abruptly from the eastern plains. Mount Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain, stands at the heart of the range. Hike along one of the many lakes nestled at the foot of the mountains, like Lake Wanaka. Come during winter to ski down from the mountains while you overlook this 75-square-mile (193-square-kilometer) body of crystalline glacier water.

Take a long mountain drive to Fiordland National Park in the island’s southwest for even more breathtaking sights. Here, the towering mountains have been carved into sheer cliffs shooting up from the shores of inlets from the Tasman Sea. Milford Sound is perhaps the most beautiful, as its high annual rainfall causes giant waterfalls to stream down from the cliffs. Do some hiking around the area. When night falls, take a tour of the nearby Te Anau Glowworm Caves.

The South Island has direct flights to the North Island and Australia from Christchurch, Dunedin and Queenstown. The South Island may be harder to reach and larger than its northern neighbor, but the views here are more than worth the extra effort.


Guide to Exploring South Island


Top South Island Hotel & Accommodation Deals

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BreakFree on Cashel NZ$89
Reviewed on 23 Jan. 2020
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BreakFree on Cashel

BreakFree on Cashel

165 Cashel Street, Christchurch
     
    4.0 of 5
    3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

    Walking distance in the city. Close to everything. Great location

    Sudima Christchurch Airport NZ$184
    Reviewed on 27 Jan. 2020
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    Sudima Christchurch Airport

    Sudima Christchurch Airport

    550 Memorial Avenue, Christchurch
       
      4.3 of 5
      4.5 out of 5.0 Stars

      Great sleep and breakfast after late arrival. Staff super friendly and accommodating. Coffees could be a little hotter when served for room service.

      Oaks Shores NZ$231
      Reviewed on 22 Jan. 2020
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      Oaks Shores

      Oaks Shores

      327-343 Frankton Road, Queenstown
         
        4.1 of 5
        4.5 out of 5.0 Stars

        We got the dirty room but they changed better one. And there are not easy wifi system. But there has fantastic view. I want to come here again if I back to NZ

        Hilton Queenstown Resort & Spa NZ$212
        Reviewed on 24 Jan. 2020
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        Hilton Queenstown Resort & Spa

        Hilton Queenstown Resort & Spa

        Kawarau Village, 79 Peninsula Road, Queenstown
           
          4.5 of 5
          5.0 out of 5.0 Stars

          It was in a great location, across the lake from the centre of town, but still easily accessible by ferry. Our room was right on the water and had a lovely outdoor dining area. We had a two bedroom suite which was lovely and had everything we needed, including a washer and dryer for our dirty laundry! ...

          Rendezvous Hotel Christchurch NZ$209
          Reviewed on 15 Jan. 2020
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          Rendezvous Hotel Christchurch

          Rendezvous Hotel Christchurch

          166 Gloucester Street, Christchurch
             
            4.4 of 5
            4.5 out of 5.0 Stars

            Fantastic hotel which is short walking distance from various eateries in Christchurch - would certainly stay here again and highly recommend to all family and friends.

            Heritage Queenstown NZ$235
            Reviewed on 22 Jan. 2020
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            Heritage Queenstown

            Heritage Queenstown

            91 Fernhill Road, Queenstown
               
              4.4 of 5
              4.5 out of 5.0 Stars

              Staff were very friendly and helpful. Service was really good and the rooms were very clean and tidy

              Novotel Christchurch Airport NZ$216
              Reviewed on 19 Jan. 2020
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              Novotel Christchurch Airport

              Novotel Christchurch Airport

              30 Durey Road, Christchurch Airport, Christchurch, NZ
                 
                4.6 of 5
                3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

                The service wasn't great but overall the hotel was lovely.

                Novotel Queenstown Lakeside NZ$291
                Reviewed on 19 Jan. 2020
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                Novotel Queenstown Lakeside

                Novotel Queenstown Lakeside

                Corner of Earl and Marine Parade, Queenstown
                   
                  4.4 of 5
                  4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                  The staff is great.they took care of any requests immediately . The room was amazing beds were ver

                  South Island Flight Deals

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                  Top 10 Things To Do In South Island

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