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9 ‘must see’ attractions in New Zealand’s South Island

There are many New Zealand South Island ‘must-see’ or ‘must-do’ attractions. Too many, in fact. But what do you expect in a country as beautiful as this? If we had it our way, we’d list them all — but then this article would be ten pages long. So in the interests of being efficient, here are our nine favourite South Island attractions that you really ‘must-see.’

Abel Tasman National Park

At the top of the South, Abel Tasman is a haven of golden beaches, bush clad mountains, crystal clear water and wildlife. A place you can be both adventurous or relaxed, Abel Tasman is a not-to-be-missed destination.

Exploring Able Tasman National Park and Marine Reserve by kayak

Golden Bay

One the best beaches in New Zealand (in our opinion), Golden Bay is wild, vast, and truly spectacular. A natural paradise, you can go caving, swimming, horse-riding and hiking - among many other things.

Kaikoura

A world renowned marine reserve, Kaikoura is a base all kinds of wildlife. A tiny village caught between the rugged Kaikoura Ranges and the Pacific Ocean, this seaside town is known for its mammal encounters - in particular whales, fur seals and dolphins.

Mount Cook National Park

In the heart of the Southern Alps, Mount Cook is New Zealand’s highest Mountain at 3,754 metres high - or just over 12,000 feet. Perched on the edge of a turquoise lake, the scenery is exceptionally beautiful. We recommend taking a tour to view the icebergs on the Tasman glacier lake.

Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park

Punakaiki Pancake Rocks

On the West Coast of the South Island Punakaiki is home to 30 million year old rock formations compressed into layers of hard limestone and soft sandstone resembling a ‘pancake’ effect. Rough seas send columns of water sky high, and these ‘blowholes’ are a sight worth seeing.

Franz Josef

A little further down the coast is Franz Josef, a world heritage area and home to a glacier of the same name. Surrounded by rainforest, Franz Josef is also known for its waterfalls, lakes and hot springs.

Haast Pass

A beautiful driving route between the West Coast and Makarora, Waterfalls, native forest, rushing rivers and scenic walks make this pass one of the most spectacular in the South Island.

Thunder Falls, Haast Pass

Milford Sound

Towering mountain peaks, cascading waterfalls, abundant marine life and dramatic bush-lined cliffs make Milford a surreal place to visit. Many hikes begin and end from here, including one of New Zealand’s ‘Great Walks’ the Milford Track.

Otago Peninsula

A rugged and windswept arm, the Otago Peninsula is part of the crater wall of a long extinct volcano. Walking tracks lead to clifftops, beaches and a huge diversity of wildlife including rare yellow-eyed penguins, fur seals, sea lions and the largest mainland breeding colony of Albatross in the world.

Tunnel Beach, Dunedin on the Otago Peninsula