The Perfect Week on New Zealand's South Island
Collected by Liz Carlson , AFAR Local Expert
Postcards were invented for New Zealand's South island. Blue alpine lakes, snow-capped mountains, breathtaking fjords, and numerous adventure activities guarantee loads of stories to share with friends back home. From your homebase in Queenstown you can explore Milford Sound, Franz Josef Glacier, Wanaka, skifields, and wineries. Or hire a camper van and make the road and the island's campgrounds your home.
South Island 7183, New Zealand
New Zealand's smallest national park certainly packs a punch. Unlike so many of the great ragged mountains that dot the country, Abel Tasman curves along the north coast of the South Island, peppered with golden sand beaches and steep cliffs that...
Franz Josef Glacier, West Coast 7886, New Zealand
I was a glacier virgin. I had never seen one in person before, much less set foot on one. That all changed though as the helicopter lifted off and took off towards the incredible Franz Josef Glacier on New Zealand’s South Island. Almost as...
Lake Tekapo 7999, New Zealand
Lake Tekapo is one of those places in New Zealand that is instantly recognizable but few know its name. Bright blue with clear water surrounded by pink and purple lupines in the summer, it's the perfect background for these blooming flowers. A...
Queenstown, New Zealand
Spitfire Ln, Wanaka 9343, New Zealand
While there are many ways to experience the incredible landscapes of the South Island, perhaps none is so vast or as exciting as from the skies. With plenty of helicopter and scenic flight companies to chose from, it can be hard to decide which...
Milford Track, Fiordland National Park 9679, New Zealand
Steve from Trips and Tramps makes a great tour guide through the Milford Track. The guided half-day hike, an easy seven miles on a well-groomed trail, was just a tease—given the time, the full four-day, 33-mile track would be well worth it. We...
Punakaiki, New Zealand
Along the wild west coast of New Zealand, you will find many curious rock formations and interesting coastlines. Near Punakaiki and a rainforest are the famous Pancake Rocks, a limestone formation that has formed lined pillar-like rocks along the...
Queen Charlotte Sound (Totaranui), New Zealand
Queen Charlotte Sound is the gateway to the South Island, an honor that it shares with the other Marlborough Sounds. One of the best and most traditional ways to make the journey from the North to South Islands is by ferry from Wellington into...
1, 53 Courtenay Pl, Te Aro, Wellington 6011, New Zealand
My go-to spot for after-work drinks is the Library in Wellington, and no, not the public library. Right on Courteney Place, there is a nondescript sign reading "The Library" in front of a simple doorway with several staircases. If you know what to...
Pigeon Bay 7583, New Zealand
Four private villas, including a historic homestead, are spread across a 4,000-acre coastal farm. The landscape undulates between bays and the Southern Alps an hour and a half from Christchurch on New Zealand’s majestic South Island. Each...
472 Te Anau-Milford Hwy, Te Anau 9679, New Zealand
A retreat fringed by swaying tussock grass on the edge of Lake Te Anau, Fiordland Lodge is the luxury choice for travelers visiting Fiordland National Park on the South Island. The lodge was designed to magnify the inspiring local environment;...
216 Okuti Valley Rd, Okuti Valley 7591, New Zealand
A farm-style experience about an hour from Christchurch, Okuti Garden caters to travelers who love to create and play. An art box encourages crafting; “tree circles” are great for yoga and meditation; and a small lake features a boat...
1431 SH 1, Rd 5h 9493, New Zealand
A short drive north of the South Island town of Oamaru, Riverstone Kitchen is often lauded as one of New Zealand's best regional restaurants. The stylish dining room is anchored by a robust fireplace crafted from local river stones, and much of...
554 Frankton Rd, Queenstown 9348, New Zealand
Welcome to one of Queenstown's most versatile venues. Formerly a 1980s motel—check out the quirky Tudor-style exterior—Sherwood's now been reborn as a stylish destination in a hilltop location around two miles from the center...
Te Nuku, 43 Ballarat St, Queenstown 9348, New Zealand
Combining fine-dining flair with the relaxed ambience of a mountain resort town, Rata in Queenstown is one of the New Zealand eateries operated by well-known Kiwi chef Josh Emett. With a CV that includes cooking stints in the United States and...
8 London St, Lyttelton 8082, New Zealand
Venture to the slightly rough harbor town of Lyttelton near Christchurch for some of the country's most innovative and inspirational degustation menus. The intensely seasonal options constantly evolve—often on a daily basis—and tasting...
10 Arrowtown-Lake Hayes Rd, Frankton, Queenstown 9371, New Zealand
Here's where to fulfill your fantasy of a glass of fine Central Otago pinot noir amid semi-alpine views of New Zealand's South Island. In cooler weather, seated near a cozy fire in Amisfield's dining room is the place to be; during summer, the...
16 Kahu Rd, Fendalton, Christchurch 8041, New Zealand
Across New Zealand you'll find weekend farmers' markets packed with vendors of artisanal products and organic fruit and vegetables, as well as innovative food trucks providing tasty options for breakfast or lunch. Held in the leafy surrounds of...
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