Have Fun In the South Island
Here in the wonderful South Island of New Zealand, we have an unlimited range of tourist attractions and activities, located throughout the country. Whether you are looking for adrenaline-pumping adventure, or a relaxing game of golf, there is an activity or attraction to suit everyone's tastes, age, culture and budget in New Zealand. There are many free visitor attractions such as walks and museums in addition to huge range of other attractions and activities that New Zealand is famous for.
The five best walking Tracks in South Island
The Milford Track is the jewel in New Zealand's hiking crown, an extremely popular 4-day track through Fiordland, from Lake Te Anau to the stunning Milford Sound.
The Routeburn Track is a 32km, 3-day tramp between Glenorchy and The Divide, crossing through Mt Aspiring and Fiordland National parks.
The Kepler Track, at 60km, is possibly the most challenging of the Great Walks, taking 3-4 days to complete. It is also the course for the Kepler Challenge - an 'ultra-marathon' trail running race of the entire track, which takes the winners around 5 hours to complete
The Abel Tasman Coastal Track is one of the most popular tramps for visitors to the country as it runs along the coastline of the sunniest part of the South Island, featuring some stunning beaches of golden sand and crystal-clear water.
The Heaphy Track is another hike in the northern South Island and at 79km (4-6 days) is the longest of the Great Walks, with some of the most diverse scenery, from the forests of the Kahurangi National Park to scenic West Coast beaches. It is also unique in that it is open to mountain bikers during the Winter Season.
1. Shotover River
Queenstown Rafting takes you to Skippers Canyon for some grade 3 to 5 rafting. Getting to the launch point is an adventure in itself by taking the gnarly Skippers Road. A highlight is being plunged into darkness in the Oxenbridge Tunnel, as well as many insane grade 3-5 rapids.
Location: Queenstown, South Island
2. Rangitata Gorge
Choose from grade 1 to 5 on the raging Rangitata River in the Canterbury region. Rangitata Rafts guarantees grade 5 rapids every day from October to May. The package also includes a food before and after your trip.
Location: Canterbury, South Island
3. SHOTOVER RIVER
The Shotover has to be one of New Zealand’s most photogenic rivers – everyone takes photos of Skippers Canyon as they fly by in helicopters. Prior to tourism and extreme sports, the river was excavated for gold, and it has not changed much since then. The rapids here are grade 3 – 5, and their endearing nicknames like “Pinball” and “Jaws” might put you off, but the adrenaline kick is worth it. You are in the adventure capital of the world, you know!
4. Whataroa River, West Coast
The Franz Josef Glacier has made the Whataroa River into a white water playground compris of 3 gorges, and plenty of snow capped scenery in the background. The rapids only ascend to Grades 3 – 4, so you can enjoy the backdrop when you’re on board – the Hidden Valleys and canopy of ferns could easily have been taken from the set of Jurassic Park.
1. Great Taste Trail
This is the perfect trail for those looking to make the most of the Nelson Tasman region with scenic views of Tasman Bay, the Waimerea Estuary and the Western Ranges. On the other hand, riders looking for a tough challenge should look to the Coppermine Trail in the same area. Cycle hire and transport can be organised with Trail Journeys. Find out more in Mountain Biking in Nelson Tasman.
Grade: 2 and 3 – Having a bit of mountain biking experience is a big help on this trail.
2. Queen Charlotte Track
Bike along historical bays like Ship Cove Meretoto to luxuriant coastal forest and mountain rims revealing unmatched views of Queen Charlotte and Kenerupu Sounds. Find out more in Mountain Biking in Marlborough.
Grade: 3 and 4. Following improvements to the trail in 2019 it is now significantly easier.
3. Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail
Starting at New Zealand’s highest mountain, Mt Cook, and finishing on the shore of the Pacific Ocean in Oamaru, the South Island’s longest bike trail wanders through a world heritage national park, tussock lands, limestone cliffs and glacial lakes.
Grade: 2 and 3 – The main challenge of this trail is its length.
4. The Queenstown Trail
This trail is strategically placed to showcase the best of the Queenstown area, such as the Gibbston Valley vineyard district, the historic village of Arrowtown, the peaceful shores of Lake Hayes, and the adrenaline-filled Queenstown. Bike hire and transport to the Queenstown Trail can be organised here.
Grade: 2 and 3 – The average level rider will be able to take on this trail, but any lower level will have a hard time.
5. The Old Ghost Road
This is a tough one! In fact, this bike trail is one of the hardest in the country. Nonetheless, The Old Ghost Road is so unique that it attracts many an avid peddler! Riding partly on alpine ridges, partly in native rainforest, and partly in a valley filled with peaceful lakes, the trail might just leave you breathless for different reasons! Check it out in the West Coast region.
Grade: 4 – Be ready for some intense mountain biking.
6. West Coast Wilderness Trail
This trail is unique in its conception, as it links old tracks, water races, logging tramways and old railway lines. It is the best trail to tackle if you are looking to immerse yourself in the wetlands that make up the West Coast of New Zealand.
Grade: 2 and 3 – This is an easy ride no need to be a pro to enjoy it.
7. Otago Central Rail Trail
Follow New Zealand’s longest river through wetlands, dense forest and volcanic rock formations. Dams, boardwalks and swing bridges will pave your way through what looks a lot like the forests of Middle Earth. Check it out in 12 Super Scenic Cycle Trails in Otago.
Grade: 1 – This is the easiest ride of the South Island.
8. Roxburgh Gorge Trail
The trail dives deep into the Roxburgh Gorge revealing an exhilarating landscape and small historic sites like mining settlements. A section of the trail has to be done by boat, so be prepared and look into booking it ahead. Find out more in Mountain Biking in the Catlins and Clutha District.
Grade: 2 – This is quite an easy one. If you know how to bike, you’ll be fine.
9. St James Cycle Trail
This is the perfect mountain biking trail for those that are not so used biking. Some challenging parts make it really fun, but most of it is an easy ride through the best of New Zealand’s high country. What’s more, you can finish in the Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools as a well-deserved reward. Find out more in Hanmer Springs – Guide for Backpackers. Bike hire can be organised here.
Grade: 3 and 4 – Average riders will enjoy the few challenging parts of this ride.
10. Clutha Gold Trail
The jewel of this track has to be the exquisite Beaumont Gorge. Accessed after kilometres of dense native forest, the gorge leads to a historic railway trail that makes this whole ride very easy to follow. Old mining settlements are also spread along the trail. More info can be found here.
Grade: 1 and 2 – An easy ride with very little challenge.