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South Island, New ZealandSouth Island Scenic Highlights

South Island | Regional Information | Activity Highlights | Scenic Highlights | History

The South Island is characterised by giant moutain ranges, stunning fiords, beautiful forests, acres of green pastureland, and dramatic, glacial fiords.

South Island Scenic Highlights Overview

The South Island of New Zealand is the largest of the two main islands of New Zealand, but is inhabited by only approximately one-third of the population of New Zealand. This means that much of the island's beautiful natural scenery remains virtually untouched. From wild, untamed forests, to stunning glacial fiords, you will be in awe of the dramatic scenery found in the South Island of New Zealand.

Otago and Dunedins Wild Beauty

Image Source: Tourism New Zealand. Larnarch Castle, Dunedin, New Zealand
Larnarch Castle, Dunedin
Photographer: Kieran Scott
(www.kieranscott.co.nz)

The scenery in Otago has a soulful quality that urges you to stay a while. Wild, coastal landscapes contrast with heritage buildings and rural tranquillity. Dunedin City is one of the best-preserved Victorian and Edwardian cities in the Southern Hemisphere.

Visit New Zealand's only castle—Larnach Castle—located on the Otago Peninsula. William Larnach—Minister of the Crown, banker, financier and merchant Baron—built the castle for his beloved first wife, Eliza Jane Guise back in the 1870s.

Taiaroa Head on the Otago Peninsula was once the site of the important Pukekura fortified pa in the 18th century. Later it was a busy population centre involved in harbour work, shore defence and prison labour projects. Presently it is the home of the Royal Albatross Colony, the only mainland breeding colony of royal albatross in the world. It's also the place to see the Armstrong Disappearing Gun, built to fend off a feared Russian invasion in 1880 and later used as a defence post in the two World Wars.

Take a visit to the famous Moeraki Boulders, septarian concretions formed about 65 million years ago. These boulders lie scattered along a beach 40 kilometres south of Oamaru. According to Maori legend, the boulders are gourds washed from the great voyaging canoe Araiteuru when it was wrecked upon landfall in New Zealand some 1000 years ago.

Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers

On the West Coast, remnants of the ice age cascade from vast snowfields of the Southern Alps to valley floors just 300 metres above sea level. Nowhere in the world's temperate zones are glaciers so accessible.

A range of companies offer guided excursions to explore the spectacular ice formations in the Fox Glacier and the Franz Josef Glacier. All companies provide professional guides that give full explanations regarding the geological features, flora and fauna of the area. Helicopter and fixed wing aircraft also provide scenic flights and snow landings amidst New Zealand's highest peaks overlooking the glaciers.

Stewart Island

Image Source: Tourism New Zealand. Ringaringa Beach, Stewart Island, Southland, New Zealand
Ringaringa Beach, Stewart Island
Photographer: Gilbert van Reenen
(www.cleangreen.co.nz)

Insulated from the world by its remoteness, Stewart Island is a haven for people looking for tranquility and adventure. Most of Stewart Island is protected by the boundaries of Rakiura National Park. The western coast of the island is characterised by sea-pounded cliffs and sandy beaches; on the eastern side of the island there are three sheltered inlets-Paterson Inlet, with a 160 kilometre shoreline, is the largest.

Offshore from Stewart Island is Ulva Island. With an area of 250 hectares Ulva Island is situated in Paterson Inlet. It is accessible via water-taxis and is managed as an open wildlife sanctuary by the Department of Conservation. The island's restored forest and lack of predators make it a perfect, safe environment for many rare and endangered bird and plant species and is a place where the public may view and enjoy rare birds and native plants at close quarters.

South Island Accommodation

South Island is a popular tourist destination and offers a wide range of accommodation options:

View more South Island Accommodation options.

Useful South Island Links

To help plan your South Island holiday choose from the main categories below:

South Island Region Information

South Island Tourism Operators

Featured

 
Mainstay New Zealand Hotels

Mainstay NZ Hotels

Large collection of independent hotels.

Choice Hotels

Choice Hotels

Holiday packages for any occasion.

Distinction Hotels

Distinction Hotels

Great hotels in great NZ wide locations.

Featured

 
Mainstay New Zealand Hotels

Mainstay NZ Hotels

Large collection of independent hotels.

Choice Hotels

Choice Hotels

Holiday packages for any occasion.

Distinction Hotels

Distinction Hotels

Great hotels in great NZ wide locations.