Ultimate Guide to New Zealand – South Island

By Danielle Ditzian of Like Riding a Bicycle

visit new zealand

One of my all time favourite countries that I’ve visited was undoubtedly this beautiful land, so why not write a guide to visit New Zealand? I spent three months hitchhiking around the South Island, popping in to whatever towns tickled my fancy along the way. While not much planning is necessary – every corner you glance in is unbelievable – there are certainly a few must sees for any traveller visiting New Zealand’s South Island!

Punakaiki

Punakaiki is a tiny town that gathers its tourism from its beautiful pancake rocks; unlike most rock formations, these tall pillars and cliffs are formed with what looks to be horizontal rocks – or pancakes – stacked on top of each other. It’s well worth the walk to check them out as well as the stunning cliffs and ocean beyond. An essential if you’re looking to visit New Zealand!

Franz Glacier and Fox Glacier

Both beautiful in their own way, these two glaciers are pretty much next door neighbours. It doesn’t hurt that the town of Franz Glacier is positively amazing and quaint, with a ton of cool walks including bad ass glow worm caves. Definite must sees!

Christchurch

Want to see the real nitty gritty when you visit New Zealand? While this city used to have much more allure than it does now, it is still interesting to see how a first world country deals with a severe earthquake many years after it happened. My favourite part was the mall made entirely out of shipping containers – a brilliant solution should there be another earthquake, and a sight to behold!

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Wanaka/Lake Hawea

Wanaka is a beautiful town situated right on a lake, with gorgeous views. The town is filled with quirky shops and places to visit, with coffee shops turning into bars at night. While Wanaka is great, take a trip to the nearby town of Lake Hawea to escape the tourists; while there isn’t much there, the lake is stunning and you won’t have another soul in sight!

visit New Zealand

Queenstown

Queenstown is basically Wanaka’s big brother; both attract swarms of tourists year round, and are gorgeous places on a lake. Queenstown boasts activities like taking the gondola up the mountain for crazy awesome views. Hell, at the top you can even play in go-carts!

Kaikoura

This little town is absolutely idyllic; it is perfect in every way. One can walk from one end to the other with ease, even while carrying a way-too-heavy backpack, as I like to do. A huge snow capped mountain sprawls in the background, begging avid hikers to give it a go. Meanwhile, there are several seal colonies around Kaikoura that can be visited. They’re in the wild, so remember – look, but don’t touch (or go too close, seals can be mean, you know!)

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Did you visit New Zealand? What were your favourite places in New Zealand? Write them in the comments to add to this guide to New Zealand!

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