New Zealand South Island Attractions You Must See On Your Road Trip

Hiking Hooker Valley, Mount Cook, New Zealand

10. Lake Hawea (Viewpoint)

lake hawea(Source)

This big blue body rests between Blue Pools and Wanaka. It’s a spectacular sight to behold. Then again, almost everywhere in New Zealand is!

11. Lake Wanaka/ That Wanaka Tree

Rach captures some of the most breathtaking pictures of New Zealand. With over 48k followers on Instagram, it’s proof enough that her feed will inspire New Zealand wanderlust.

12. Roys Peak

If you’re looking for an easy hike, this is NOT for you. But if you’d do anything for a million-dollar shot and great views (especially at sunrise!), then give this a shot.

roys peak, new zealand

roys peak, new zealand

Total distance: 11km
Duration: 5-6 hours return
Directions: The track starts at the Roys Peak Track carpark, 6 km from Wanaka town

Also note that you cannot camp on this trek.

13. Queenstown

I was so thrilled as I drove in to Queenstown. First, it was the subtle change in the scenery. The leaves seem to have more colour here than anywhere else in the South in May. I swear I was not imagining this. As I drove into the heart of the town, there seemed to be more shops, more people, more life. Shops close past 10pm here, unlike smaller towns in the South that close by 6pm. Only then did it dawned on me what we had been missing while being on the road – civilization.

Granted, Queenstown is probably the most expensive town in the whole of South New Zealand, because it is where most of the tourist attractions can be found. But this is also the place to get your adrenaline fuelled, and your adventure bucket list checked off. Skydiving, jet boating, bungee jumping, paragliding… I was jumping on the inside at the prospect of trying them out!

But first, you’ve got to get your hands greasy with their famous Fergburger.

fergburger, queenstown, new zealand

fergburger, queenstown, new zealand

Give their bakery a shot too. It reminded me so much of typical French bakeries, that in every bite I took out of my croissant, I was oozing with glee.

14. Te Anau/ Milford Sound

milford sound waterfall

We booked a cruise tour with Jucy. There are plenty of tour operators online or in Queenstown. Do note that some operators do not operate in winter.

14 Replies to “New Zealand South Island Attractions You Must See On Your Road Trip”

  1. Awesome to read this. I’m actually from Christchurch so I love hearing about other people’s experiences around the South Island. Christchurch still has a lot of recovery happening post-earthquake. Been 5 years but progress is so slow. Next time you’ll need to explore more of Banks Peninsula, also head up to Nelson and do the Abel Tasman National Park – and if you really want to go the extra mile, cross over to little old Stewart Island at the bottom of the country!

    1. Hi Juliette! I’ve been to Christchurch – stayed there for more than 4 days! The post-earthquake recovery is still very real and evident in this town. Thank you for your recommendation! I’m considering doing a working holiday there… But there are so many things to consider and so I haven’t made up my mind! :/

  2. Thanks Lauren! It really is! Let me know if you do. I can share my itinerary with you! 🙂

  3. The glaciers are really stunning! This is a great way to get around. I’m always afraid to drive when abroad, though. :/

    1. It is! Can’t find it in every country so we figured we had to check this off in NZ! I hear you – we were very worried about driving in NZ initially too! I have an upcoming post addressing concerns about driving in NZ. Feel free to subscribe to the blog to be notified when it’s published Jess! 🙂

  4. These photos are beautiful!! New Zealand is on my list. Loved this post!
    xx, E

  5. I did a similar trip back in 2010, driving a campervan across the South Island with friends. It was completely and totally breathtaking, as your post shows. I am curious about one thing: how did you pick Instagrammers to feature here? And why? I guess this is sort of a blogging about blogging question so feel free to email respond to [email protected]


    1. I was just scrolling through my favourite Instagrammers and figured those photos they took were too pretty not to share and found them very apt for this post! But I also sought permission from them to share it. Hope that answers your question!

  6. I stopped at a lot of the same places as you when I went around the South Island but we got a few travel delays that cut a few things out! Those blue pools look amazing!

  7. Awesome blog post, and amazing pictures! Just one thing… you said that it’s always cold in NZ and you’d need to dress warm even in the summer – this definitely isn’t true for all of New Zealand! In the north island it gets very warm in the summer, and nights are very hot too! But you’re mostly right about the South Island, it’s definitely a bit colder down there 🙂

  8. […] this better. I may have my reservations about taking the hot air balloon in Turkey, skydiving in New Zealand, bungee jumping in Phuket or tasting Michelin-star food in Budapest, but at the end of it all, I […]

  9. […] Penguins. Crossing the street. Seriously awesome. PPS For those of you who need a real live New Zealand guide, here you go. God knows I only write my tales and sometimes you need […]

  10. […] Lake Wanaka is a beautiful lake in the center of the South Island and 4th in the list of biggest lakes in New Zealand. Driving the road from Wanaka to Haast took me […]

  11. Hi Isabel. Read many of your posts on New Zealand. Amazing work and seems like you had a great time with many adventures. What excursions / day trips did you do from Christchurch? Did you make it to Kaikoura – is it worth the time/drive to whale watch there?

Talk to me!