It’s the Land of the Long White Cloud – and of the verdant forests, the towering snow-capped mountains and the glittering sapphire water. New Zealand has so much to offer that it’s almost overwhelming. Luckily, there’s not too much area to cover!
Abel Tasman National Park
New Zealand’s South Island is a heaven for outdoors enthusiasts. There are hundreds of peaks, valleys, trails, lakes, rivers and mountains to choose from, but Abel Tasman National Park is widely seen as the cream of the crop. As wilderness reserve, it’s the best place to spot fur seal colonies, little blue penguins, bottlenose dolphins and seals. Hire a kayak, camp out along the coastal tracks, then head to nearby Nelson to dine on fresh seasonal fare.
Aoraki / Mt Cook
Aoraki is New Zealand’s highest mountain, also known as Mt Cook to settlers. See the Tasman Glacier, go alpine trekking, fly fishing, four-wheel driving or camp out for a spot of star gazing in the evening. And if your visit to New Zealand stems from your love for Lord of the Rings… you’re in luck. Tours run regularly at the fictional Pelennor Fields and across the ranges of Gondor.
Fiordland National Park
Fiordland National Park is the coastal strip known for its two ethereal fiords - Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound. These glacier-carved valleys have been long since flooded by seawater, making them home to even more of those resident dolphins, penguins and fur seals. Come and picnic amongst rugged granite mountaintops that give way to glistening blue waters – or see them from above in a scenic flight. Take a cruise around the Sounds, see the Glow Worm Caves, drive the Milford Road or just take a hike on one of the many trials criss-crossing the pristine woods.
Kaikoura is a small seaside town by the Southern Alps famous for its seafood. Whether you’re nestled in front of the fire at a cosy Airbnb or cruising around the countryside in a van at your own leisure – you must try the local crayfish paired with a bottle of gourmet wine from one of the South Island’s viticultural regions. Kaikoura is also the best place to spot whales, dolphins and fur seals that inhabit the coastal waters wedged between the Pacific Ocean and the Seaward Kaikoura Range.
Rakiura / Stewart Island
Rakiura (a.k.a. Stewart Island) is a pristine nature reserve that acts as the ‘third island’ of New Zealand. Over 85% of the landmass falls under the jurisdiction of Rakiura National Park, which today contributes to its incredible untouched wilderness. Check out Rakiura Museum, spend the day kayaking or do a spot of birdwatching – this is your best chance to see the humble kiwi.
If the outdoors is not for you… well, you might be in the wrong place! All jokes aside, New Zealand’s South Island is rife with eclectic metropolitan areas that are nothing if not pleasing to the eye. Meander down a street art trail in Christchurch, relax in established urban regenerative green spaces and see how some of the oldest buildings in New Zealand are adapting to post-earthquake innovation. Up the thrill level in Queenstown - known as the centre for adventure, you won’t need to look far to find an extreme activity. Queenstown is also a wonderful place to ski.
Convinced? We thought so!
Luckily for you, Travellers Choice offers many tours and cruises to this dream destination!
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