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Lake Tekapo, South Island

New Zealand's South Island

An adventurer's playground

New Zealand tailor-made holidays


New Zealand's clean, green and serene South Island is an ideal destination for independent travel, with spectacular drives and access to dramatic wilderness areas containing giant glaciers, lakes, rivers, rugged peaks and  a stunning coastline. It's a place of action and adventure, where days are spent hiking and racing along rushing rivers on everything from rafts to jet boats. Cross its Alpine landscapes by train, or take the car to link spectacular cities with creaking glaciers and sun-dappled fjords. Speak to our destination specialists, who'll use their expert knowledge of the country to plan your perfect New Zealand holiday.

Adventures in the great outdoors

In particular New Zealand's South Island is known for its walks, including the Milford, Routeburn and Abel Tasman tracks, and tramping – as the locals call it – along these trails is a great way to get a feel for the region’s unspoiled natural attractions. There are also opportunities for jet boating, fishing, heli-skiing, sea kayaking, scenic flights and that other famous Kiwi caper, bungee jumping. And, on the west coast, the chance to hike onto a glacier, or take a helicopter to its summit, are opportunities not to be missed.

Jet boating on the Dart River, Queenstown

Spectacular self-drives

The roads on the South Island are some of the most scenic on Earth, and a self-drive circuit is, without question, among the best ways to explore. Indeed, on a two week trip, you can take in many of the major highlights, from the golden shores of the Abel Tasman National Park, the wines of Marlborough and whales of Kaikoura to adrenaline adventures in Queenstown, kiwi spotting on Stewart Island and scenic routes that run right through Mt Cook National Park and the stunning Southern Alps, skirting giant glaciers and turquoise lakes. 

Mt Cook, South Island

Journeys by rail & sea

Let others take the strain as you relax on one of the world’s great railway journeys, the TranzAlpine between Christchurch and Greymouth across the Southern Alps, or perhaps take a spectacular Fiordland cruise on the mirrored waters of the majestic Milford and Doubtful sounds. And, if you’ve time, you can easily combine the delights of the south with the contrasting sights of the North Island.

Milford Mariner


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Top itineraries in New Zealand's South Island

Fiordland Navigator, Doubtful Sound

Best of New Zealand's South Island

13-day tailor-made self-drive & rail journey from £4,655 pp incl. flights

Discover New Zealand's South Island on this in-depth road trip, which includes a glacier heli-hike, an overnight Doubtful Sound cruise and a journey on the iconic TranzAlpine train.

Queenstown, New Zealand

Highlights of New Zealand

19-day tailor-made self-drive from £3,790 pp incl. flights

With boutique hotel stays and car hire included throughout, this curated road trip perfectly showcases the unique cultures and natural wonders of New Zealand's North and South islands.

Rotorua, New Zealand

Cultural Highlights of New Zealand

19-day tailor-made self-drive from £5,630 pp incl. flights

A tip-to-toe tour of New Zealand, taking in the best of its landscapes and culture, and calling into filming locations from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

Port Douglas beach, Queensland, Australia

Australia and New Zealand Discoverer

21-day tailor-made holiday from £5,305 pp incl. flights

Combine the highlights of two spectacular countries, from New Zealand's mighty glaciers and remote fjords to an Australian road trip exploring stunning beaches, waterside cities and iconic Uluru.

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Top places to stay in New Zealand's South Island

Main Lodge, Matakauri Lodge

Matakauri Lodge, Queenstown

Small & intimate lodge

Located just seven minutes from the lively centre of Queenstown, Matakauri Lodge sits on the shores of stunning Lake Wakatipu. With breathtaking views over the jagged peaks of the Remarkables mountain range, this lodge is a world away from the hustle and bustle of New Zealand's adventure capital.

Gardens at Otahuna Lodge, Christchurch

Otahuna Lodge, Christchurch

Small & intimate lodge

Built in 1895 for Sir Heaton Rhodes, Otahuna Lodge is a stylish and elegant Victorian mansion set with beautiful manicured gardens on the outskirts of Christchurch on New Zealand's stunning South Island.

Stonefly Lodge, New Zealand

Stonefly Lodge, Nelson, New Zealand

Small & intimate lodge

Set within 150 acres of pristine private forest in the heart of the Moteuka Valley, just 50 minutes from the town of Nelson, Stonefly Lodge offers luxury accommodation for guests looking to relax and enjoy fly-fishing in one of New Zealand's most beautiful regions. The lodge is situated between thr…

Annandale, Akaroa

Annandale, Akaroa


This ultra luxurious lodge sets the highest possible standards and in service, facilities, location and cuisine; four individual villas located on a working farm in a remote region of coastal beauty around an hours’ drive from Christchurch.

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Where to go in New Zealand's South Island

Lake Wanaka, Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown & Wanaka

Spectacular Queenstown bustles year-round with thrill-seekers looking for that ultimate adrenaline rush. Meanwhile, nearby Wanaka offers all the same beauty, but with more of a laid-back vibe.

Milford Sound, New Zealand

Milford Sound & Fiordland

Fiordland is one of New Zealand's most iconic wilderness regions. Immersing yourself in these magical surroundings – whether by foot on the celebrated Milford Track or on board an overnight or daytime cruise – is a defining Kiwi experience.

Stewart Island

Stewart Island & Invercargill

From petrified forests embedded in the rock of the Catlins Coast to the first-sized oysters of Bluff and the wildlife wonders of remote Steward Island, New Zealand's southernmost reaches have more than a few secrets to share with the inquisitive visitor.

Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand

Top of the South Island

Vast flooded valleys characterise the South Island’s northern tip – the imposing front to rolling vineyards, national-park beaches and historic towns. Expect adventure aplenty, coupled with amazing seafood and, in Marlborough, some of Australasia's finest wines.

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When to go to New Zealand's South Island

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Summer (November to March), spring and early autumn are fine times to visit the South Island with flowering meadows, mild temperatures and plentiful native wildlife. Nelson and Marlborough, with their sand-fringed islands and idyllic coastal stretches, are two of New Zealand’s sunniest spots. At the height of winter, the ski resorts around Queenstown and Wanaka – the Remarkables, Treble Cone and Coronet Peak – draw big crowds.

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New Zealand's South Island articles

  • Discovering New World wine on holiday

    Wine is big business. We take a look at how the wines of Australia, Canada, Slovenia, New Zealand and more fare against Old World wine.

  • View of the road in the Southern Alps, New Zealand

    New Zealand: North vs South

    They’re so close they’re almost touching, but New Zealand’s North and South islands can feel worlds apart. From golden beaches to colossal glaciers, Wexas specialist Keely Roberts takes a look at their varying appeals.

  • Lake Wanaka and Mt. Aspiring, New Zealand

    New Zealand’s Top 7 Wilderness Highlights

    From the subtropical Bay of Islands to the glaciers and mountains of the south, here we look at New Zealand's most spellbinding landscapes and how to explore them.

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Meet our New Zealand's South Island experts

Speak to a tailor-made specialist on 020 7590 0614

Meet the team

Why book with Wexas Travel?

At Wexas, we specialise in bespoke travel experiences. Our itineraries are just samples of what we can arrange, and can be changed depending on your precise needs, finances and ideas by our experienced destination specialists.

Contact one of our consultants on 020 7590 0614 to discuss how we can tailor your holiday.

Learn why Wexas is the leader in creating luxury holidays. What is tailor-made travel?

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