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.
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.
Auckland To Christchurch Tour
Small Group Escorted Tour Of New Zealand
Explore South Island (NZ)
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 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.
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.
“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.”
“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.”
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
There’s no question too small. Start planning your dream trip by talking to our Destination Specialists.
Sign up to our newsletter
Receive the latest travel inspiration and destination news.
How we tailor make your holiday
The Hayes & Jarvis Way
We've been tailor making holidays for 65 years. With over 60 destinations to choose from, talk to us and we'll listen to your travel ideas to create unforgettable holiday experiences.