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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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Sudima Christchurch Airport NZ$179
Reviewed on 23 Aug. 2019
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Sudima Christchurch Airport

Sudima Christchurch Airport

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

    Location, easy to request airport pick up and drop off.

    Copthorne Hotel and Resort Queenstown Lakefront NZ$152
    Reviewed on 19 Aug. 2019
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    Copthorne Hotel and Resort Queenstown Lakefront

    Copthorne Hotel and Resort Queenstown Lakefront

    27 Frankton Road, Queenstown
       
      4.2 of 5
      4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

      friendly staff, great lake views, clean and modern room

      Rendezvous Hotel Christchurch NZ$127
      Reviewed on 21 Aug. 2019
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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

        I liked the close proximity to the CBD, & the tramline.

        Heritage Queenstown NZ$204
        Reviewed on 23 Aug. 2019
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        Heritage Queenstown

        Heritage Queenstown

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

          Great place to stay would staay again Staff where very friendly and helpful the outlook from our from was postcard

          Oaks Shores NZ$200
          Reviewed on 21 Aug. 2019
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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 an upgrade, from studio room to a 2-bedroom unit! It has an amazing and stunning view!

            BreakFree on Cashel NZ$83
            Reviewed on 23 Aug. 2019
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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

              Perfect for a quick trip. Would recommend this for a one night stay.

              Hilton Queenstown Resort & Spa NZ$174
              Reviewed on 24 Aug. 2019
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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

                the staff were terrific location was excellent rooms were very very large and comfortable

                Copthorne Hotel & Apartments Queenstown Lakeview NZ$132
                Reviewed on 21 Aug. 2019
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                Copthorne Hotel & Apartments Queenstown Lakeview

                Copthorne Hotel & Apartments Queenstown Lakeview

                88 Frankton Road, Queenstown
                   
                  4.1 of 5
                  4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Place was excellent walking distance to literally everywhere. Staff was excellent, room service was great, housekeeping was brilliant! Absolutely enjoyed our stay there, definitely recommend for couples get away. Thankyou team!

                  Top South Island Package Deals (Flight + Hotel)

                  South Island Flight Deals

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