South Island New Zealand has just over a million people which means most of the island is sparsely populated. There are plenty of options for adventure seekers to trek, camp, mountain-bike, cycle, kayak, climb and swim.
Here are Travelmath’s not to be missed 5 South Island New Zealand adventure tours that encompasses national parks, rivers, bays, lakes, rivers and forests. For this article we are focusing mostly on warm weather activities in the South Island:
One: Trekking at the Abel Tasman Coast Track
Nelson is the gateway to Abel Tasman National Park. Nelson is a four hour 56 minutes drive or a 49 minutes flight from Christchurch. Air New Zealand is the only airline that flies from Christchurch to Nelson.
Take the 5 days trek from beach to beach at the Abel Tasman Coast Track. Pass through open country, explore the coastlines with rich marine life, hike on forested area of the track where wood pigeons (kereru), fantails, bellbirds and tui may keep you company. You have the option to stay in an old restored farm homestead, campsites or eco-lodge.
You can do the Abel Tasman Coast Track independently or with a tour operator.
Information: Abel Tasman Coast Track
Two: Kaikoura Whale Watching
Kaikoura is located in North Canterbury two hours sixteen minutes drive from Christchurch. The word ‘kai’ in Maori means food and ‘koura’ means crayfish. The city is rich in seafood particularly crayfish.
The abundance of marine life in Kaikoura coast attracted early Maori and European settlers. Whaling station in the area was established in 1843. Today, Kaikoura is famous for whale watching adventure via watch boats and small planes.
Whale Watch offers visitors close encounters with the world’s largest Giant Sperm Whale in their natural environment all year round (weather permitting). They guarantee 95% success rate of at least one to two whales per visit. Visitors are guaranteed an 80% refund if the tour does not see a whale.
Whale watching may not be suitable to those who are prone to seasickness.
Fur seals, Hector’s dolphins, dusky dolphins and seabirds like 13 varieties of Albatross, 14 varieties of Petrels and 7 types of Shearwater may be found during the whale watching tour.
Information: Whale Watching
Three: Kepler Track
Also known as ‘adventure above the clouds’, the Kepler Track is a 3-4 day loop track from the gentle, beech-forested shores of Te Anau and Manapouri lakes to the tussocky alpine tops of Mt. Luxmore. Get a panoramic view of the Kepler Mountains on one side and the lakes, rivers and hanging valleys on the other.
Start your track at Te Anau, a small town about two hours drive from Queenstown. This 37 mile track is excellent for family with kids who love adventure and the great outdoors. The track opens all year with limited access during the winter months (May to October).
Information: Kepler Track
Four: Te Anau Cycling
While in Te Anau, combine Kepler Track with a Te Anau cycling tour. It is easy to cycle around the mostly flat lands around Te Anau and Manapouri lakes. Or take a guided cycling tour from Te Anau to Fiordland National Park. Enjoy the world’s most beautiful sceneries on bicycles.
Information: Te Anau Cycling
Five: Queenstown Bungy Jump
Queenstown is known as the adventure capital of New Zealand because it was here that AJ Hackett started his first bungy jump off Kawarau Bridge in 1988. AJ Hackett has established three bungy jump locations in Queenstown. They are Nevis Bungy, Kawarau Bridge Bungy and The Ledge Bungy.
Information: AJ Hackett Bungy Jump
Tips to travel in South Island New Zealand:
1. Christchurch and Queenstown are serviced by domestic flights from Auckland and Wellington. International travelers should consider flying into Auckland and taking a domestic flight to Christchurch or Queenstown. There are almost 30 airlines flying into Auckland from around the world.
2. The cheapest way to get around South Island is by bus through nakedbus.com. For multiple destinations we recommend purchasing a bus pass.