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New Zealand's South Island see + do

Activities in the South Island are all about the landscapes—hiking them, sailing them, jumping off them, or just staring at them with your mouth open (yes, it's that beautiful here). Keep in mind, though, that much of the island is seriously wild country, where the weather can change drastically and you can get lost or hurt if you don't know what you're doing. Take precautions, or explore with the help of one of our recommended tour operators.

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Whale Watching, Kaikoura

Off the northeast coastal town of Kaikoura (about a two-and-a-half-hour drive north of Christchurch) lies a deep underwater canyon, where hordes of giant sperm...more

Editors' Pick
Hotel Photo
Trout Fishing

Fly fishermen (and women) from all over the world come to the South Island for its whopping rainbow and brown trout. They know that not only are trophy-sized...more

Editors' Pick
Hotel Photo
Tranzalpine Train Rides, Christchurch

If you'd rather experience the rugged, majestic Southern Alps in comfort than in crampons, this four-and-a-half-hour sightseeing trip lets you see the best of...more

Editors' Pick
Southern Alps Flightseeing

The Southern Alps, which run down the middle of the South Island like a spine, are too remote, dangerous, and just plain high (there are 27 peaks over 9,000...more

Editors' Pick
Nelson Wineries, Nelson

Nelson is big-time chardonnay country, and riesling, sauvignon blanc, and pinot varietals aren't far behind. Nelson's vintners tend to be boutique producers,...more

Editors' Pick
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Marlborough Wineries, Marlborough

Marlborough is New Zealand's biggest wine region, with more than 100 wineries supplied by 300-odd local growers. The star varietal here is sauvignon blanc, and...more

Editors' Pick
Kayaking + Sailing, Abel Tasman National Park

The clear, jade-green waters of Abel Tasman National Park, near Nelson on the island's northern coast, are so gorgeous that Tourism New Zealand built a major...more

Editors' Pick
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Great Walks

The South Island has six multi-day Great Walks, all maintained by the Department of Conservation. They range from the remote and challenging 22-mile Rakiura...more

Editors' Pick
Doubtful Sound Scenic Cruise, Fiordland

The aptly named (albeit oddly spelled) Fiordland, on the South Island's southwest coast, will look familiar to anyone who's seen Peter Jackson's Lord of the...more

Editors' Pick
Dolphin Swims

Forget everything you know about swimming-pool "dolphin encounters"—nothing beats meeting these creatures in the wild. The channels and coves...more

Editors' Pick
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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.



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