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Breath-taking landscapes, adrenaline-fuelled outdoor activities and laid-back city life - New Zealand South Island holidays have it all. With unrivalled natural beauty within easy reach of charming cities, New Zealand South Island holidays offer something for everyone - whether you’re looking for outdoor adventure or laid-back island life.

From rugged coastlines to snowy mountains and glaciers, South Island boasts some of the most spectacular scenery in the world, with ‘bucket-list’ moments at every turn. New Zealand South Island holidays see you exploring the city one day and jet-boating across rapids and waterfalls the next. No two days are the same, and every day is an adventure.

South Island holidays - nothing short of magical

In the tree-lined streets of buzzing Christchurch, you’ll find a vibrant arts and music scene, along with acclaimed restaurants and lively nightlife. The city also boasts plenty of open green spaces, including the city’s largest, Hagley Park, and the pretty gardens of the Mona Vale homestead. To the north of Christchurch is the coastal town of Kaikoura, where you can swim with dolphins, take a whale-watching boat trip and enjoy delicious, freshly-caught seafood at one of the town’s restaurants.

If you’re looking for adventure on the water, head to Abel Tasman National Park, where you can kayak alongside seals. For a more relaxing experience in the water, a cruise among the fiords of Milford Sound is the perfect way to spend a day. For more adventure, including bungee jumping, glacier walks and more, head to Queenstown. Picton and Marlborough are ideal for couples, with their spectacular surroundings and some excellent winelands just waiting to be explored.

With such a diverse range of activities and incredible terrain to explore, New Zealand South Island holidays offer a once-in-a-lifetime experience everyone will love.

Destination Highlights

  • Soak up the atmosphere in vibrant Christchurch and take a day trip to Arthurs Pass on the TranzAlpine Express Train
  • See the towering peaks of Mount Cook, the sparkling blue waters of Lake Tekapo, and Abel Tasman National Park’s beaches
  • Head to Te Anau and explore the mountains, valleys, lakes and waterfalls of Fiordland National Park and Milford Sound fiord
  • Take a scenic helicopter flight over the Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier, stopping to soak in the glacier hot pools

Great sample itineraries


A New Zealand South Island holiday lets you see more of this spectacular area. Why not fly drive New Zealand South Island and explore the top sights? Get inspired by our selection of popular itineraries.

Milford

Self Drive Tour Of New Zealand South Island

  • 15 Days
Our self drive tour of New Zealand’s South Island takes in some of the area’s most spectacular destinations and packs...
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Escorted tours holidays
Milford

Auckland To Christchurch Tour

  • 17 Days
  • Guide Price £7,799 PP
Set out on a New Zealand adventure and get a true taste for the country on an escorted New Zealand...
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Escorted tours holidays
a snow covered mountain

Small Group Escorted Tour Of New Zealand

  • 21 Days
Spend 21 days exploring an endlessly stunning country and get a taste of the fascinating Māori culture during your Essence...
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City holidays
Mount Cook, New Zealand

Private Tour Of Bay Of Islands New Zealand

  • 16 Days
  • Guide Price £5,899 PP
Our New Zealand Getaway tour is a superb choice for first timers wanting to get a taste of the delights...
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Honeymoons

Explore South Island (NZ)

Time Zone

GMT +13

Flight Time

27 hours with stopover options including Singapore, Hong Kong and Bangkok

Currency

New Zealand dollar (NZD)

Visa Information

All British passport holders can visit New Zealand for up to 6 months on arrival without a visa.

Language

English

Health Info

No vaccines required - please speak to your GP for advice.

Adventure Sports

A holiday in South Island New Zealand wouldn’t be complete without heading to the centre of adventure sports, Queensland. From here you can try white water rafting, bungee jumping, skydiving and skiing. Take a helicopter ride over the Franz Josef Glacier or hike through this magnificent area. Visitors can also see dazzling insects light up the caves below ground and climb a waterfall on a black water rafting trip.

The Old Ghost Road

Located in the north west of the South Island, the Old Ghost Road is an old miners’ trail which has been renovated into a hiking and cycling trail. It stretches out over 85km and takes you through dense forests and fertile valleys, as well as ghost towns where you can see the former homes of miners from the 1970s.

Marlborough Sounds

Marlborough Sounds stretches along 4,000 square kilometres of the New Zealand coastline. Its former river valleys are filled by the Pacific Ocean, leaving sandy bays and providing opportunities to spot dolphins and other wildlife. Discover the protected islands which provide a sanctuary to birds and native wildlife, while remaining predator free. Mountain biking, kayaking and boat trips are the ideal way to see this spectacular place.

Wine Tasting

The South Island’s Marlborough region is full of fertile valleys which produce some of the world’s best varieties of sauvignon blanc. Spend the day learning how the grapes are planted, nurtured and harvested, before tasting a variety of bottles with an expert sommelier. The wonderful views and delicious cuisine provide the perfect complement to a wine tasting tour.

Charlie, Destination Manager

“Take a water taxi to and from Golden Bay on Stewart Island over to Ulva Island, where there are lots of birds and wildlife, as there are no predators. You can swim with dolphins in Akaroa, see whales out in the open water or seal swim in Kaikoura.”

 

Charlie
Destination Manager
Lucy, Destination Specialist

“One of the most memorable experiences in Queenstown is ‘Picnic on a Peak’. Your own personal pilot will take you to a secluded spot high on the mountain by helicopter, for spectacular views. You can have a champagne picnic there and admire the view before the pilot picks you up and brings you back to base.” 

 

Lucy
Destination Specialist

Events & Festivals

Festivals and events are wonderful to include during your South Island holiday, offering a glimpse into the country’s authentic culture and traditions.

Rhythm and Alps

Rhythm and Alps is a three night music festival in the magnificent Southern Alps that attracts party goers from all over the world. Now in its ninth year, the festival hosts international music acts and local groups, with impressive staging, lighting and sound, and an incredible backdrop of the Cardrona Valley.

South Island Wine and Food Festival

The South Island Wine and Food Festival celebrates the island’s status as one of the most esteemed wine regions in the world. This one day festival is held every December and draws around wineries from around the region. The event features wine seminars, cooking displays and live entertainment, making it a great way to spend a summer’s day.

 

Our South Island (NZ) destinations

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