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

Hiking Hooker Valley, Mount Cook, New Zealand

15. Mirror Lake

Read: The Hobbit Behind The Scenes; Hobbiton Movie Set Tour at Matamata

16. Lindis Pass/ Mount Cook/ Hooker Valley

Hiking Hooker Valley, Mount Cook, New Zealand

En route while hiking on the Hooker Valley trail. Visiting New Zealand in winter does have its own set of scenery to marvel at!

This video sums up our hike on Hooker Valley when we were in Mount Cook.

17. Lake Pukaki

lake pukaki(Source)

If I haven’t mentioned already, it rains A LOT in New Zealand. While we went in May (the beginning of winter), summer in New Zealand would still require you to dress warm, especially when night falls. Because we went close to winter, it rained exceptionally much, and they were relentless. The only good hours were in the morning, before the sky would loom for the rest of the day. Sunrise is at 7.30am, and sunset begins at 4.30pm.

As such, we weren’t able to capture as much as we had hoped. I should make another trip to New Zealand, shouldn’t I? :/

18. Lake Tekapo/ Church of the Good Shepherd

Lake Tekapo is the site of New Zealand’s premier scientific astronomy observatory, Mt John Observatory. The observatory site was chosen in 1963 for the clarity and darkness of the night sky. In other words, the skies are almost totally free from light pollution, making it one of the best stargazing sites on Earth.

When we reached Tekapo, it fell on a cloudy night (chances of getting a clear night sky in winter is slim!), so we got a shot of the Church of Good Shepherd in the daylight instead!

lake tekapo, new zealand

church of the good shepherd, new zealand
Church of the Good Shepherd, New Zealand

19. Christchurch

Night sky Birdlings Flat Christchurch

Just when we thought we’d be leaving New Zealand without witnessing a Milky Way, let alone the Southern Lights, we caught the Milky Way in the unlikeliest place – at Christchurch!

We left Christchurch town at 12 midnight and drove an hour out of town to Birdlings Flat just for this capture. It certainly was well worth the drive and the cold. Birdlings Flat appeared to be a deserted flat land when we went in the dark, bordering creepy. The only light that illuminated us came from the moon. There and then, we were one with nature.

We were based in Christchurch for 5 days before flying off to Melbourne, and while it is not the most happening town (most of New Zealand’s shops close by 5, anyway), we managed to fit some day trips out of Christchurch. More on that next time!

Planning for a road trip in New Zealand can be a headache and extremely time-consuming. But trust me, it’ll all be worth it in the end when you road trip goes ahead without glitches.

Read: Driving In New Zealand For The First Time?

You’re welcome to shoot me a message if you have any queries that I haven’t covered in detail!


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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 🙂

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  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?

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