Famous for its much-lauded beauty, New Zealand‘s South Island is the epitome of nature’s perfection. Think innumerable peaks soaring into the sky, magnificent glaciers, carpets of stars in the midnight blue sky and sheep grazing on grasslands as far as the eye can see.
Infographic: The Southern Lights at a Glance
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A relaxing road trip where you have full autonomy over your itinerary will allow you to best embrace the highlights of the South Island. Experience firsthand the joys of exploring untouched pockets of wilderness, of seeking adrenaline rushes within picturesque settings or even of just having such abundant nature surround you as you drive through the winding landscape.
Cruise through the wondrous Milford Sound
Who says you have to go to Norway to experience a fjord? At Milford Sound, one of New Zealand’s top destinations, be enraptured by nature’s unparalleled beauty as you cruise up close to towering cliffs such as Mitre Peak and thundering waterfalls such as the Stirling and Bowen Falls. Although the area is prone to rain showers (dress appropriately!), the atmospheric effect of clouds gathering around the mountain peaks only enhances Milford Sound’s beauty. If you’re lucky, you may even spot some frolicking wildlife on your journey.
Get your adrenaline pumping in Queenstown
Dubbed the adventure capital of the world, Queenstown is one of the eminent paradises for thrill seekers. Feel your heart rate accelerate with exciting activities such as skydiving, bungee jumping or canyon swinging, or opt for something slightly less intense such as whitewater rafting, jetboating and skiing. Your adventures will even come accompanied by awesome views; the town situated on the shores of Lake Wakatipu is blessed with an incredible backdrop — the Southern Alps.
Scale a massive glacier
If you’d like to visit a glacier without journeying too far from home, the South Island is a perfect fit. Two of the most accessible glaciers, which are part of the Te Wahipounamu UNESCO World Heritage Site, are the Fox and Franz Josef glaciers. Travel to the foot of the glaciers on foot or via helicopter, where a seasoned guide will then lead you up the kilometres-long landmarks for vantage views of the whitewashed peaks in your surroundings. The inimitable experience of climbing a glacier’s ridges and weaving within the icy landscape is an experience to remember.
Spot impressive whales at Kaikoura
Out on the sea near Kaikoura, New Zealand’s top destination for whale watching, you’ll have the opportunity to catch a glimpse of Sperm Whales along with other wildlife such as seals and dolphins gliding in the endless sea. The massive whales make for a majestic spectacle when they poke their bodies up above the surface of the water close to your vessel; count the moment amongst your blessings if you manage to catch one of the mammals in action!
Explore Mount Cook’s best trails
Boasting the highest peak in the whole of New Zealand at 3,732 metres, Mount Cook is a favourite amongst avid hikers. Trails in the region lead you through the Southern Alps, where you can access viewpoints with panoramic views of the impressive mountain range, look out over the quaint locale of Glencoe and the impressive Hooker glacier below and seek respite at clear, calm lakes. Multiple tracks with different difficulty levels and estimated durations are available for you to choose from and are perfect for immersing in the sheer beauty of the region.