New Zealand's South Island: 10 Must-See Sights

By Jessica Russo

The South Island of New Zealand is a treasure trove of spectacular scenery. Aside from the vibrant city of Christchurch, this beautiful island is known for its mountains, lakes, glaciers, and fjords. With brilliant blue beaches, ice cold glaciers, and idyllic valleys just miles apart, the South Island is a wonder in itself. From sky-high peaks to magical glowworm caves, here are 10 of the sights that make the South Island so special.

Aoraki/Mount Cook

The tallest mountain in all of New Zealand! Soaring well over 12,000 feet, this eye-widening wonder resides in the Southern Alps - the range that runs the length of the South Island! Hike up if you dare... or snap amazing photos comfortably from the bottom!

Fiordland National Park

Studded with sparkling lakes, lush forest trails, and impressive mountains, Fiordland National Park is a wonderland of beautiful landscapes. Discover glacier-carved fjords, the glassy surfaces of Mirror Lakes, and rushing waterfalls. Be sure to walk along the Chasm for some of the best views in the park!

Franz Josef Glacier & Fox Glacier

Feel your jaw drop as you feast your eyes on these massive glaciers! Not only are they fascinating, they're also accessible. Get up-close and personal with these icy marvels, or soak all your stresses away in the surrounding hot springs!

Lake Tekapo

Just southeast of Mount Cook and the glaciers, Lake Tekapo is a piercing blue gem nestled beside a small town of the same name. Surrounded by breathtaking mountainous scenery, this vibrant lake looks more like a painting than a real body of water.

Abel Tasman National Park

This coastal oasis is pure paradise. With white sand beaches and turquoise water, Abel Tasman National Park is the perfect place to relax while still being in the presence of unbeatable beauty. Whether you kayak the day away or lounge in the sun, this sunny spectacle will feel like heaven on earth.

Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes Walk

Say this one three times fast! The foundations of these "Pancake Rocks" were formed about 30 million years ago! With centuries of intense water pressure and seismic action, these limestone formations took on their pancake-like shape we see today! As part of Paparoa National Park, these rocks are part of an even larger otherworldly landscape of blowholes, surge pools, and lush forest. Take this easy walk and take in views like no other!

Milford Sound

As soon as Milford Sound comes into sight, your reaction will be, "woah." How do we know this? Well, that's everyone's reaction! Known for its towering Mitre Peak, Milford Sound is a postcard-worthy wonderland filled with rainforests, waterfalls, and wildlife. Hear the rush of Bowen Falls, then spot some fur seals, penguins, and dolphins!


Nestled on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, the resort town of Queenstown is a haven of shopping, wine tasting, and dining. This amazing town is surrounded by impressive landscapes - specifically, the slopes of The Remarkables! You'll never lose sight of New Zealand's natural beauty, even as you're wining and dining!

Mount Aspiring & Haast Pass

Mount Aspiring National Park is paradise for nature-lovers. A dreamland of bright blue lakes, immense glaciers, and soaring mountains, this national park is a magical mix of New Zealand's most beautiful features. Be sure to take the stunning Blue Pools Walk through Haast Pass for unbelievable views of striking scenery!

Te Anau Glowworm Caves

It may look like magic, but it's really the illumination of thousands of twinkling glowworms! Take a journey through the limestone Te Anau Caves and experience this phenomenon you'll need to see to believe.

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