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New Zealand's South Island

New Zealand's South Island Destination Guide

Exclusively Elegant Travel Since 1988

For more information, please call our Luxury Travel Specialists on:01244 897 551

Your guide from the Luxury Travel Specialists

Welcome to the Elegant Resorts Destination Guide for New Zealand's South Island, created to help make your choice of luxury holiday as easy as possible. Here, you will find more detailed factual information about the destination you have selected.

If you require further information, not featured on this page, please call one of our Luxury Travel Specialists.


Language English
Time Difference 12 hours
Currency New Zealand Dollar
Voltage 230v

South Island feels more remote than its northern counterpart, making it a real hotspot for fun and adventures in spectacular outdoor playgrounds. Hiking opportunities range from gentle rambles to tackling one of the ‘Great Walks’, while bungy-jumping and sky diving offer gravity-defying thrills. Mountain biking, rafting and skiing are just more great ways of making the most of your glorious surroundings - South Island’s palette of jaw-dropping scenery never fails to impress, a pristine environment that was beautifully illustrated in the ‘Lord of the Rings’. The country’s crowning glory is Mount Cook, with its snow-capped peak and stunning, mirror-image reflection in Lake Matheson – consider a scenic tour by air across the Southern Alps for a perfect, bird’s-eye view.

Along the coast, the ocean delivers an array of wildlife, including whales, dolphins, sea lions, seals and three species of penguins, attracting animal enthusiasts from around the globe. From wildlife to wineries, the Marlborough Region produces some world famous wines, including Sauvignon Blanc.

Culture & Traditions

Tucked in the sunny north-west corner of New Zealand, Nelson is a great place to watch Maori, traditional and modern craftspeople at work, selling unique keepsakes in their studios and galleries. Next, head to the Otago Peninsula and the beautiful city of Dunedin. Built with mony from the Gold Rush, there are fine examples of Edwardian and Victorian architecture, framed by forests and sea. Dunedin is also New Zealand’s UNESCO Creative City of Literature and home to famous national writers.

Food and Wine

Expect culinary sensation and exquisite wine on your New Zealand adventure. The coastal and forested landscapes of Nelson are interspersed with rolling vineyards and hop farms making delicious craft beers. Enjoy informative tours and tastings, followed by fresh Nelson Bay scallops for lunch. At the top of South Island, the Marlborough wine region is famous for its zesty Sauvignon Blancs and sparkling wines made by the ‘methode traditionelle’. Around three-quarters of all New Zealand wine is produced here in some thirty award-winning wineries.


Explore the funky, garden city of Christchurch by bike, tram, or traditional punt boat. Just a few of many highlights to note in this charming city, take a visit to the Botanic Gardens, the Air Force Museum or the International Antarctic Centre. Explore further afield with a scenic drive to Akaroa, a French colonial town set round a pretty harbour – enjoy a wildlife cruise and look out for the endangered Hector’s dolphins. More marine-life congregates around Kaikoura, north of the city, with sperm whales, fur seals, penguins, dolphins and an armada of seabirds. Back in Christchurch, book window-seats on the TranzAlpine Express for a rail journey of mesmerising views to Arthur’s Pass National Park.

National Parks and Striking Scenery

Unrivalled in its natural beauty, New Zealand’s South Island boasts a variety of dramatic landscapes. Located on the northern shores of Lake Wakatipu, close to Queenstown, Glenorchy is dwarfed by the most extraordinary alpine scenery, aptly known as ‘Middle Earth’. Set aside a day to explore the Otago Peninsula. The coastal scenery is spectacular as is the wildlife, with the chance to spot a colony of royal albatrosses, fur seals, sea lions and the rare yellow-eyed penguin. Discover the dazzling beaches of Abel Tasman National Park by foot, water taxi or sea kayak, or take daytrip to Milford Sound fiord, described by Kipling as the ‘eighth wonder of the world’.

Outdoor Adventure

Queensland is the place for ultimate, adrenalin-pumping adventure in New Zealand. Nestled between towering alpine peaks and the crystal-clear waters of Lake Wakatipu, the scenery is splendidly unspoilt. Enjoy sky diving, canyon swinging, jet boating, horse trekking, river rafting, heli-cycling, mountain biking, skiing and more! North of Queenstown, Lake Wanaka offers a picture-postcard backdrop for tranquil outdoor pursuits. There are plenty of hiking trails, including gentle walks around the lake and more vigorous tracks through the surrounding mountains. Glenorchy is a haven for lovers of the great outdoors and is a gateway for superb fishing, climbing, kayaking and walking – popular routes include a hike to nearby Routeburn National Park.

Stewart Island

Dubbed ‘The Land of Glowing Skies’, thanks to the frequent and natural spectacle of ‘The Southern Lights’, Stewart Island is another great spot to meet locals and birdlife alike. Walking trails interweave across the island, attracting hordes of hikers and birdwatchers – look out for little blue penguins, yellow-eyed penguins, the delightfully shy brown kiwi (or Tokoeka) and two species of parrots, the Kaka and the Kea.

Travel Gems+

Travel Planning
Our Travel Consultants can advise on, arrange and pre-book many things to enhance your holiday. This includes everything from spa reservations and dinner reservations, to a range of special experiences available in our featured resorts that you may not know about.

Getting There+

Please contact our Travel Consultants for flight details.

Travel Documentation+

Travelling With Children or Without an Adult

Children travelling without both parents should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country. Please contact the relevant Embassy for the county you are travelling to for further information.

Visa and Advance Passenger Information

All passengers must ensure they have a valid, acceptable passport, any required visa and any other documentation for both the final destination and any stop-off points en route. Please make sure that Advance Passenger Information is submitted in advance to travel for all destinations. Failure to hold correct documentation or submitting incorrect details with Advance Passenger Information or Visa applications may result in refusal of carriage or entry into a country. Please check with the relevant Embassy regarding visa requirements well in advance of your travel date. Charges may apply for some visas.

Passengers not travelling on a British Passport are advised to contact their relevant Foreign & Commonwealth office for individual Visa requirements.

For up-to-date resort information, visit


Health facilities, hygiene and disease risks vary worldwide and you should take health advice about your specific needs from your general practitioner or a specialist clinic as early as possible before travel. Those planning to become pregnant should discuss their travel plans with their healthcare provider to assess their risk of infection with Zika. For information about Zika, other mosquito-borne diseases (such as Dengue fever and Chikungunya), Lyme Disease (caused by tick bites), and to receive advice on mosquito bite avoidance measures, please visit Insect and tick bite avoidance. In addition, we highly recommend that you seek specialist advice from your doctor and, where recommended, obtain vaccinations or tablets for protection against, for example: Malaria, Hepatitis A, Polio and Typhoid. In some cases, treatments for Malaria should begin well in advance of travel. Travellers may also be required to show Yellow Fever Certificates on arrival in certain destinations i.e, some African countries. Please note that you are strongly advised against scuba-diving for 24 hours before travelling by air. We would also like to draw your attention to the risk of DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) and recommend that you consult with your doctor before travelling. Visit the FCDO website and select your destination country for the very latest travel advice: Foreign Travel Advice. Additional sources of information include: Public Health England, The National Travel Health And Network Centre, Foreign And Commonwealth Office and your General Practitioner or a specialised clinic.

Talk to our Asia, Australasia and Africa experts

Our dedicated Asia, Australasia and Africa experts are ready to help you design your luxury holiday to New Zealand's South Island. Furthermore, we have many Luxury Travel Specialists who've personally visited New Zealand's South Island and can offer you their first-hand knowledge and experience.

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