Top Places to Explore in the South Island

The landscape of New Zealand can be as dramatic as your time spent here. The opportunities for jaw-dropping views and adrenaline-fuelled activities are around each corner. This is a place for an ultimate road trip adventure, and we have gathered top attractions to see with your brand-new camper. 


It is known as the sunniest town in New Zealand, so get your tan on and get ready to look fabulous in all the pictures you’re about to take on this incredible island. You’ll also find Abel Tasman National Park nearby, a great place for walkers with many accessible established routes. On your way to or from Nelson, make sure to explore The Queen Charlotte Drive that starts/finishes in Picton. It’s only 40-kilometer stretch, but well worth your time. 


It’s a paradise for marine wildlife enthusiasts. You can spot whales, dolphins, sea lions, and seals from the top of Point Kean, or if you’re brave enough, get into the water and become one with nature. 


You will reach Aoraki/ Mt Cook Village after a magnificent drive by Lake Pukaki. Whether you’re here to train for your next alpine adventure like Sir Edmund Hillary did or to gaze at glaciers from a helicopter – this is the place to be. And don’t rush to leave this paradise – it gets even better in the dark! Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park is part of New Zealand’s only Dark Sky Reserve. 


Christchurch is a unique city combining the old and the new. It’s full of innovation, bustling street art, culture, and adrenaline-fueled activities. Christchurch is a natural base camp for South Island exploration; however, if you’re not a fan of cities, you can escape to Canterbury Plains as soon as you stock up in town. 


It’s a charming, lovely town about an hour and a half away from Christchurch. It has a lot of history and colonial architecture, as it was the only French settlement in New Zealand. Head on a self-guided tour until you find Barrys Bay Cheese, where you can indulge in award-winning goodness. 


Another small town with a rich history. It was founded as a gold town, to be continued as a coal town. However, it is best known these days for extreme adventures such as caving, jet boating, white water rafting, etc. You might even be so lucky to spot a seal colony living nearby!


It is well known for Jade stone, and you can visit craft workshops where magic happens. This might be the place if you need to stock up on unique souvenirs!


It’s a famous spot for photographers and nature lovers alike. It has everything you need, just without the crowds of Queenstown. Stick around this area if you’re not ready to return to civilization. There are plenty of hikes and nature activities to keep you occupied. For example, stop at Lake Wakatipu or Glenorchy for a scenic picnic.


Simply one of the most incredible drives there is connecting Queenstown and Wanaka. It is the highest main road in New Zealand, therefore, comes with many challenges during the winter season, so come prepared! 


Queenstown is the kind of place that you can read a lot about, but it won’t do any justice until you actually get there and see it for yourself. It is an adventure capital of New Zealand for a good reason. The options for activities and opportunities are limitless. Whether you want to sit back in your car and admire the view, go into a fancy restaurant, catch a helicopter ride, or fly down the rails with a mountain bike – Queenstown has it all. This is also your gateway to Fiordland National Park and its most famous attraction, the Milford Sound. Once there, you won’t know if you’re dreaming or not. 


Dunedin is the second largest city on the South Island of New Zealand, full of history and even Scottish heritage! Explore the only castle in New Zealand – Larnach Castle. It’s surrounded by stunning views of the Otago Peninsula, well-crafted Victorian gardens, and an air full of history. There’s high tea hosted every day at 3 pm, make sure not to miss it!


A quaint, perfect town on the edge of a lake, mainly known as the gateway to Fiordland National Park, where you’ll find Milford and Doubtful Sounds – a sight out of this world. You might stare in disbelief for so long only to realize you’ve forgotten to take pictures on your way back!


This is home to most bird species found in New Zealand. There are over 240km of walking paths where you can spot albatross, penguins, weka, and kiwis themselves, amongst others. You’ll walk past pristine beaches and rainforests and will be emersed in a slower pace of life. 

We hope you enjoyed this article, and if you haven’t yet, check out our suggestions for the North Island adventure!

Share This