See New Zealand’s South Island

New Zealand is a country that knows how to show visitors a good time.

With breathtaking scenery, heart-pumping adrenaline activities, fascinating cultural experiences and some of the best food and wine on the planet, the experiential South Island is the star of the show for many travelers. There are activities to suit everyone, from scenic cruises to overnight stays to cultural exchanges and exciting adventure tours. From sampling the region’s famous wine to sleeping on Milford Sound and meeting the world’s rarest kiwi, here are five great reasons to visit New Zealand’s South Island.

Get your thrill on a jet boat ride

Shotover River Jetboat
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You know you’re in for a thrilling jet boat ride when your driver tells you to take off your hat and sunglasses “unless they’re really, really tight” and fasten your seat belt. Not “low and tight” as they said on the flight here, but “so tight you can’t fit a bit of paper in there”. The Shotover River is home to what is arguably New Zealand’s most famous jet boat tour, operated by the local Ngāi Tahu people. Hold tight as the jet boat zooms between high canyon walls, chases across the water and spins 360 degrees in the middle of the foaming water. You don’t need to be fit or nimble to do this activity, just brave enough to get in the boat.


Hike to Franz Josef Glacier

Franz Josef Glacier
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Named after an Austrian emperor, the 13 km long Franz Josef Glacier is even bigger than its famous namesake. It is one of the steepest glaciers in New Zealand and advances at about ten times the speed of the world’s other valley glaciers. The sunlight reflects off the glistening blue ice, which contrasts with the rugged mountains that emerge beneath its surface. Put on your hiking boots and take your manager on a hike which takes you within 750 m of the surface of the glacier. If you’re feeling adventurous, join a heli-hike and get even closer to this incredible glacier.

Spend the night at the “eighth wonder of the world”

Milford Sound
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The South Island’s Fiordland is a place of dramatic, striking landscape carved by glaciers over thousands of years. The landscape is filled with steep fjords, lush rainforest, cascading waterfalls and mirror-like lakes with granite peaks that have been untouched for centuries. Milford Sound was once described by Rudyard Kipling as “the eighth wonder of the world” – and you can spend the night surrounded by its majesty. Climb aboard your heritage-built vessel and settle into your comfortable cabin, then head out on deck as the boat leaves the dock. Surrounded by incredible scenery by day and a night sky scattered with stars, there is always something to see on this special overnight cruise.


Hike to the Blue Pools with a biodiversity specialist

Blue Pools in New Zealand
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Widely regarded as one of New Zealand’s best short walks, you’ll find the Blue Pools Track along Haast Pass, between Wanaka and the west coast. The ranger-led walk begins with an easy stroll along open flats with spectacular mountain views before passing through a beech forest and arriving at a swing bridge over the Makarora River. Continue to the second swing bridge as this one offers best view of the Blue Pools. You don’t need to crank up the color saturation on Instagram when posting photos from this short but sweet walk. Mother Nature has already turned up the blue for maximum effect.

Experience the world’s rarest kiwi

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Take a behind-the-scenes tour of the West Coast Wildlife Center, home of the official breeding program for the world’s rarest kiwi, the Rowi. The center is run in collaboration with the Department of Conservation and the local iwi, and has also been instrumental in saving the Haast tokoeka kiwi from extinction. Your ranger, an expert in all things kiwi, will also introduce you to New Zealand’s most remarkable reptile, the Tuatara, sometimes referred to as “living fossils” because their lineage is so old that it is used in the study of lizard evolution and snakes.


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