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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 1,446 Hotels in South Island
NZ$90
BreakFree on Cashel

BreakFree on Cashel

165 Cashel Street, Christchurch
3.9
of 5, from 776 reviews
3.5 out of 5.0

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

NZ$226
Sudima Christchurch Airport

Sudima Christchurch Airport

550 Memorial Avenue, Christchurch
4.2
of 5, from 1,757 reviews
5.0 out of 5.0

Situated near the airport, this hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Russley Golf Club and International Antarctic Centre. Omarino Wine Park and Jellie Park Recreation and Sport Centre are also within 3 mi (5 km).

NZ$302
Hilton Queenstown Resort & Spa

Hilton Queenstown Resort & Spa

Kawarau Village, 79 Peninsula Road, Queenstown
4.6
of 5, from 1,922 reviews
5.0 out of 5.0

Hilton Queenstown Resort & Spa is on the eastern shore of Lake Wakatipu in Kawarau Village, 5 minutes’ drive from Queenstown Airport and 15 from the center of Queenstown. A free shuttle bus ferries guests to sights like the Skyline Gondola, as well as to all kinds of adventure sports.

NZ$274
Swiss-Belsuites Pounamu Queenstown

Swiss-Belsuites Pounamu Queenstown

110 Frankton Road, Queenstown
4.4
of 5, from 376 reviews
5.0 out of 5.0

This family-friendly Queenstown apartment building is located near the airport, within 1 mi (2 km) of Queenstown Gardens, SKYCITY Wharf Casino, and Kiwi and Birdlife Park.

NZ$95
Southwark Apartments

Southwark Apartments

25 Southwark Street, Christchurch
4.2
of 5, from 915 reviews
4.0 out of 5.0

Located in Christchurch City Centre, this apartment building is within 1 mi (2 km) of Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology and Canterbury Museum. Riccarton House is 2.6 mi (4.2 km) away.

NZ$121
Jucy Snooze Christchurch

Jucy Snooze Christchurch

5 Peter Leeming Road, Christchurch
4.2
of 5, from 283 reviews
4.0 out of 5.0

Situated in Christchurch, this hostel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Russley Golf Club and International Antarctic Centre. Omarino Wine Park and Jellie Park Recreation and Sport Centre are also within 3 mi (5 km).

NZ$230
Copthorne Hotel and Resort Queenstown Lakefront

Copthorne Hotel and Resort Queenstown Lakefront

27 Frankton Road, Queenstown
4.2
of 5, from 1,243 reviews
4.5 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.

NZ$211
Rydges Lakeland Resort Queenstown

Rydges Lakeland Resort Queenstown

38-54 Lake Esplanade, Queenstown
3.7
of 5, from 2,296 reviews
4.0 out of 5.0

This family-friendly Queenstown hotel is located on a lake, within a 10-minute walk of SKYCITY Wharf Casino, Steamer Wharf, and Creative Queenstown Arts & Crafts Market. Toi o Tahuna and TSS Earnslaw Steamship are also within 10 minutes.

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