Top 5 things to do in New Zealand’s South Island

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Top 5 things to do in New Zealand’s South Island

Are you planning your next vacation but have no idea where to go? If you desperately want to see something new, the best thing you can do for your body, mind, and soul is visiting New Zealand’s South Island. The South Island is one of the three main New Zealand’s islands. Even though it’s not as populated as the North Island, it has some of the most majestic landscapes in the world. Besides that, it offers interesting activities, amazing tours, and breath-taking places for everyone. Here are the top 5 things you shouldn’t miss while you’re on the South Island.

1. Explore Marlborough Sounds

Marlborough Sound


Located at the large area of the northern end of the South Island, Marlborough sounds are sea-drowned valleys created by rising sea levels and land subsidence. Marlborough sounds is literal all-in-one paradise on earth. Whether you just want to relax by watching the birds, cruise around or kayak, go fishing or simply take photographs of the jaw-dropping landscape, you can do that and many more there. Marlborough Sounds is an ideal place for everyone.

Did you know that Marlborough sounds is the only place on the Earth where you can find rare species like the king shag? In addition to that, dolphins and penguins are common visitors, so hop on board and enjoy the ride of your lifetime while playful dolphins swim right beside your boat. 

2. Whale watching adventure

whale watching

If you’re a fan of marine life, whale watching would be an unforgettable experience for you. Head to the Kaikoura, the town known as whale watching capital located south of Marlborough. 

It doesn’t matter what season it is; Kaikoura is a rare place where you can see whales all year round. Summer visitors have an amazing opportunity to see orcas, while in the winter you have a chance to see majestic humpback whales passing by. In addition to that, you can spot gorgeous giant sperm whales whenever you visit. It’s heaven on earth for anyone who’s fascinated by these amazing creatures. 

3. See scenery on two wheels

bike trail

New Zealanders are all about going green. They rarely use cars even though they have high-quality roads. Instead of that, they cycle. Their government invested in the bike trails connecting the whole country, which gives you an opportunity to see beautiful landscapes on two wheels. It’s a fast way to see the sights, besides that you can escape the civilisation for a while and challenge your physical strength. So, if you have an adventurous spirit, hop on your bike and enjoy the scenery. 

Luckily, you don’t have to be an expert to ride a bike, just make sure you have all the cycling essentials. There are trails with different difficulties. Each is marked by grades from 1 to 4, where 1 is easy road biking, and 4 is only for experienced mountain bikers. One of the easiest, yet beautiful, rides of the South Island is Otago Central Rail Trail. It follows the Clutha River, the longest river of the South Island. It also passes through dense forests, wetlands and volcanic rock formations leading you over swing bridges and boardwalks to the Middle Earth forest look alike. Keep an eye out for orcs, though.

4. Visit the city of Dunedin


Naturally, not everyone likes to be physically active on their vacation. Not everyone likes to spend time alone in nature either. Some people simply want to explore the cities and culture with nature within the hand’s reach. That’s why the southern city of Dunedin is an ideal combination for nature lovers and history enthusiasts. It is well known for its rich Scottish heritage and its historic architecture. Besides that, abundant wildlife inhabits the Otago Peninsula.

To fully enjoy the beauty and variety of this amazing city, consider joining one of the best Dunedin tours there is. Whether you want to explore the city and learn something about the historical background of its Edwardian and Victorian architecture, or you want to get to know the exotic wildlife of Otago Peninsula, guided tours are a perfect solution for you. If you’re, by chance, visiting Dunedin in July, don’t miss the annual Chocolate carnival. You won’t regret it especially if you have a sweet tooth.

5. Adrenaline junkie’s paradise


Even though life at South Island seems peaceful and calm, it’s never boring. If extreme mountain biking wasn’t exciting enough for you, why don’t you indulge in extreme sports such as bungee jumping and swinging?

If you’re a first-time bungee jumper, make sure you properly prepare before the bungee jump. Swinging is similar, it also requires a jump, but you’ll be swinging like a kid in the park, just a thousand more times exciting. Flying through the air at such high-speed releases adrenaline, and makes you feel amazing once you peacefully touch the ground again.


As you can see, there are a wide variety of activities on the South Island. The best thing is, you don’t have to choose between visiting the magical city of Dunedin and whale watching. Everything is easily accessible with the national bike circuit, so you don’t have to miss any part of this breath-taking island. 

Liam Smith

Liam Smith is a young and aspiring Australian blogger with a passion for everything related to home, design and lifestyle. He has a B.Sc. in Interior design and is an avid reader.

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