Breadcrumb
Read Our Travel Blog:
Blog view

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.

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.

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.

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.

Thanks for reading our blog

We have lots more information to share with you if you need it. Our team lives and works within New Zealand we have travelled extensively in this part of the world and experienced the best (and worst) of what there is to offer.  If you have any questions about tours, locations, or just want some friendly advice please reach out to us by chat, email, or phone. There is no penalty for getting in touch, we do NOT charge any consultant fees so you can take the hassle out of your travels for free!

If you are interested in planning a trip then please leave your details in the simple form below and we can provide you with support customising a tour just for you. 

Contact form

Make an enquiry here, fields marked * are mandatory

See our privacy policy here

Spam Protection* complete the spam test below
Our most popular holiday ideas
Looking for a little
Inspiration?
View our top Self Drive & Coach Tour Holidays.

Visit New Zealand or Australia.

View Top Tours