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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.


Top Hotel Deals

See all 1,327 Hotels in South Island
$137
Peppers Bluewater Resort

Peppers Bluewater Resort

State Highway 8, Lake Tekapo
3.7
of 5, from 319 reviews
4.5 out of 5.0

Conveniently located near the ski slopes, this Lake Tekapo apartment is within 1 mi (2 km) of Mount John Observatory, Tekapo Springs, and Church of the Good Shepherd. Sheepdog Statue is 0.8 mi (1.3 km) away.

$110
Sudima Hotel Christchurch Airport

Sudima Hotel Christchurch Airport

550 Memorial Avenue, Christchurch
4.0
of 5, from 313 reviews
4.5 out of 5.0

Situated near the airport, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Russley Golf Club and International Antarctic Centre. White Heron Sanctuary and Omarino Wine Park are also within 2 mi (3 km).

$103
Sherwood Queenstown

Sherwood Queenstown

554 Frankton Road, Queenstown
3.9
of 5, from 27 reviews
3.5 out of 5.0

Situated near the airport, this hotel is within 3 mi (5 km) of The Kingston Flyer, Queenstown Hill, and Arrow River. Queenstown Arts Centre and Church of St Peters are also within 3 mi (5 km).

$70
Jucy Snooze Christchurch Airport - Hostel

Jucy Snooze Christchurch Airport - Hostel

Peter Leeming Road, Christchurch
4.3
of 5, from 52 reviews
2.5 out of 5.0

Situated in Christchurch, this hostel is within a 15-minute walk of White Heron Sanctuary and International Antarctic Centre. Russley Golf Club and Omarino Wine Park are also within 2 mi (3 km).

$72
BreakFree on Cashel

BreakFree on Cashel

165 Cashel Street, Christchurch
3.8
of 5, from 211 reviews
3.0 out of 5.0

Located in Christchurch City Centre, this hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of High Street and Canterbury Museum. Riccarton House is 2.6 mi (4.1 km) away.

$147
Copthorne Hotel and Resort Queenstown Lakefront

Copthorne Hotel and Resort Queenstown Lakefront

27 Frankton Road, Queenstown
3.9
of 5, from 212 reviews
4.0 out of 5.0

Located in Queenstown City Centre, this eco-friendly hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Church of St Peters and Arrow River. Queenstown Ice Arena and Queenstown Mall are also within 10 minutes.

$109
Rendezvous Hotel Christchurch

Rendezvous Hotel Christchurch

166 Gloucester Street, Christchurch
4.2
of 5, from 235 reviews
4.5 out of 5.0

Located in Christchurch City Centre, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of St. Luke the Evangelist and Canterbury Museum. Riccarton House is 2.3 mi (3.7 km) away.

$184
Heritage Queenstown

Heritage Queenstown

91 Fernhill Road, Queenstown
4.3
of 5, from 447 reviews
4.5 out of 5.0

This family-friendly Queenstown hotel is located near the airport, within 1 mi (2 km) of Mt Crichton Loop Track, Kiwi and Birdlife Park, and Skyline Gondola. Steamer Wharf and Creative Queenstown Arts & Crafts Market are also within 1 mi (2 km).

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