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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 AU$73
Reviewed on 7 Oct. 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

    Fantastic location. Friendly staff, and dining and happy hour was great.

    Sudima Christchurch Airport AU$208
    Reviewed on 13 Oct. 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

      Great location if you are looking to stay near the airport. The hotel offers free shuttle service to the airport 24x7. There is no need to book the shuttle, just book at the reception and within 5 minutes, the shuttle will come and take you to the airport. There is plenty of food around the hotel, ...

      Heritage Queenstown AU$190
      Reviewed on 13 Oct. 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. Easy walk to town. Good location and facilities. Friendly staff. Easy to check in and out.

        Oaks Club Resort AU$176
        Reviewed on 25 Aug. 2019
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        Oaks Club Resort

        Oaks Club Resort

        171-179 Frankton Road, Queenstown
           
          4.3 of 5
          4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

          House keeping was not up to standard , not enough Carparks and to use the gym/ sauna, need to go to the reception to get the doors open.

          Hilton Queenstown Resort & Spa AU$158
          Reviewed on 14 Oct. 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

            This was our 4th stay at this property. Great location, great amenities, excellent staff, awesome buffet breakfast and simply a great place to be in a beautiful location. Will definitely be back.

            Novotel Queenstown Lakeside AU$190
            Reviewed on 13 Oct. 2019
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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

              Rooms are tiny. Staff are helpful, but don’t communicate with one another.

              Ramada Queenstown Central AU$142
              Reviewed on 11 Oct. 2019
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              Ramada Queenstown Central

              Ramada Queenstown Central

              24 Frankton Road, Queenstown
                 
                4.4 of 5
                3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                New property and very close to town centre. (Everything working distance.)

                Oaks Shores AU$171
                Reviewed on 6 Oct. 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

                  The property was in a nice area with a nice view; however, there was construction going on and the construction blocked the view of the lake from our room. I paid extra to get a nice view, but ended up getting half a lake and half a metal scaffolding view. It would have been nice to have been notified ...

                  Top South Island Flight & Hotel Packages

                  South Island Flight Deals

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                  Top 10 Things To Do In South Island

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