New Zealand Tourist Attractions - South Island - Top To Bottom
The Nelson region is said to be the sunniest in New Zealand. The main New
Zealand tourist attraction in the region is the Abel Tasman park, located around 1 hours drive from Nelson. The park is popular for walks (the Abel Tasman Coastal Track), kayak trips, water taxi tours, and wildlife. The park is a haven of beautiful sandy beaches, sheltered coves, native bush, and clear waters. Home to dolphins, seals and penguins, the Abel Tasman park attracts visitors from all over the world.
Most tours depart from the village of Marahau, which is located at the
park's entrance. Marahau village has a number of accommodation options,
with cabins, camp sites, motels and private homes all available.
Accommodation is also available within the park at DOCS huts (Department of Conservation) and private lodges, such as Awaroa Lodge. Bookings for DOCS huts must be made before your departure.
The Marlborough region is well known for its production of wine. Home to dozens of wineries, the
region is the perfect destination for those wanting to taste the best
that the New Zealand wine industry has to offer. The region has around
60% of New Zealand's total vineyard area, and primarily produces
Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Marlborough wines are
consistently rated with the world's best. Popular wineries include
Cloudy Bay, Hunter's Wines, Grove Mill, and Saint Clair Estate, to name
but a few.
Organised tours are available, which may be a safer option than driving yourself :)
The largest town in the area is Blenheim, and most wineries are a short drive from there. Nearby Picton, which nestles on the Marlborough Sounds, is the arrival/departure point for the Interislander ferry linking the North and South Islands.
If you are feeling energetic, the world famous Queen Charlotte Walkway is also located in the region, and has walks ranging from a few hours to four days.
Christchurch is the largest city on the South Island, the centre of the region, and a major New Zealand tourist attraction. Although there is lots to see and do in Christchurch, my favourite activity is located around 2 hours drive north of Christchurch, at the stunning seaside town of Kaikoura. Kaikoura is well
known for its sea food. The name Kaikoura comes from the Maori "Kai" meaning food, and "Koura" meaning lobster.
But the thing that really attracts visitors is the wonderful array of marine life. Here you will find seals, dolphins, and whales. Whale watching tours are well run, and offer you the chance to view these amazing mammals up close.
You will also gain a wonderful view of the magnificent Kaikoura coastline, where the Seaward Kaikoura Range runs into the sea.
In my experience, whale watching tours are best taken in the morning, before the wind and swell increases.
I can also highly recommend a visit to the thermal springs at Hanmer Springs, where you can laze in a hot pool and soak your cares away.
West Coast Region
The wild West Coast of New Zealand's South Island is a fascinating place. The main New Zealand tourist attractions here are the Pancake Rocks and the twin glaciers, Fox and Franz Josef.
Home to the Pancake Rocks and blowhole, which are well worth a visit,
my number 1 recommended West Coast activity is a visit to the glaciers,
Franz Josef and Fox.
There are several ways to see the glaciers up close. A walk from the car park to the glacier's face at Franz Josef will take around 1.5 to 2 hours return.
Guided glacier walks are also available, but my pick (if your budget allows) is a helicopter flight and snow landing. You will be stunned by the views and thrill of the ride. A "must do" if funds permit. Please note though that flights are weather dependant. Conditions change quickly on the west coast, so bookings are essential.
Lake Wanaka Region
Often overlooked as a first choice New Zealand tourist attraction,
Wanaka has plenty to offer, and in our opinion it's a great spot to
spend a day or two.
Wanaka township is a beautiful, lake side town, basking on the shores of Lake Wanaka. Home to several ski fields, including Treble Cone and Cardrona, Wanaka is a popular
place particularly in winter. Wanaka is also home to the biennial
Warbirds Over Wanaka air show, which attracts up to 80,000 people to the
region. In general though, Wanaka is less rushed than nearby
Queenstown, and is a lovely, relaxed place to pass a few days on your
New Zealand itinerary.
One of the best activities in Wanaka is a place called Puzzling World. Containing a maze, cafe, and an endless supply of puzzles and illusions, Puzzling World is a great place for visitors of all ages to pass a few hours.
Be sure not to overlook Wanaka when you are considering New Zealand tourist attractions.
Queenstown is one of New Zealand's major tourist destinations and home to many of the best New Zealand tourist attractions.
Situated lake side in a stunning natural basin surrounded by towering
peaks, Queenstown is an amazing destination, and should be at the top of
your "must see" list.
Often referred to as New Zealand's "Adventure Capital" it certainly caters for the adrenalin junkie. But it also has plenty to offer those looking for a quiet relaxing holiday.
You can learn more about Queenstown at our Queenstown Activities page.
Click on the following link to view a full range of New Zealand Tourist Attractions, tours and activities.