Things to Do in South Island - page 2
Pegasus Bay Winery and Restaurant is a family-owned and run winery and restaurant located in the Waipara Valley, north of Christchurch. Pegasus Bay wines are made with estate-grown fruit from the Donaldson family’s vineyards.
The Donaldsons have been growing grapes and making wine since the early 1970s. A husband, wife and three sons team, the family uses natural methods, and the winery produces a sauvignon, Reisling, chardonnay, pinot noir, merlot and cabernet. The winery is also known for half a dozen reserve wines.
The Banks Peninsula is the bulbous thumb of land that juts out into the Pacific Ocean south-east of Christchurch, on New Zealand’s South Island. The town of Akaroa has an interesting French heritage, which is rather unusual in a country colonized by the British, and the rest of the peninsula is a nature-lover’s paradise, offering outdoor and nature-oriented activities.
The West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island is known for its role in the Gold Rush, when people flocked there seeking their fortunes in the 1860s. Immerse yourself in this historical event at the interactive Shantytown Heritage Park. More than just a museum, the park offers a range of family-friendly indoor and outdoor attractions.
Olveston Historic Home (Olveston House), an unmissable Dunedin attraction, was constructed in the early 1900s and is still decorated as when it was built. The original owner collected unique items worldwide, making this not just a house but a museum. Visitors can view the interior and the large, beautiful gardens.
The Christchurch Tram combines leisurely transportation with narrated city sightseeing aboard a restored vintage tram. Visitors learn about historical landmarks in central Christchurch as well as the Garden City’s revival efforts following the earthquake damage of 2011. With 17 hop-on hop-off stops, it’s an easy and fun way to get oriented to New Zealand's third-largest city.
Built in 1935 as a memorial to the pioneers of Mackenzie County, the Church of the Good Shepherd is set on the scenic shores of Lake Tekapo, framed by snow-capped mountain peaks. In addition to being a popular tourist attraction, this heritage building continues to serve as a place of worship.
On a sunny day, you’ll find the best view in all of Dunedin is from the top of Signal Hill. This 1,289-foot forested promontory rises high above Dunedin Harbor, and offers sweeping views of the blue Pacific and green of the surrounding hills. On clear summer days you can find locals and visitors enjoying the uphill stroll to the summit, and mountain bikers whirring down the numerous trails that weave their way through the woods.
While walking maximizes the hill’s beauty, there’s also a road that winds its way up to the scenic reward at the top. Not far from the Signal Hill summit, a large memorial commemorates New Zealand’s 100th anniversary that took place in 1940, and two bronze statues on the side of the memorial are an ode to the original Scottish settlers who founded the waterfront town.
Sprawling along New Zealand’s southwest coast, Fiordland National Park represents the country at its most photogenic: jagged mountains, rugged glacial valleys, and glittering fjords. This UNESCO World Heritage Site harbors some of New Zealand’s most impressive natural wonders, including Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound, and Lake Te Anau, as well as rare Fiordland penguins, dolphins, seals, and sea lions.
Enjoy a bird’s-eye view from more than 1,640 feet (500 meters) above sea level on the Christchurch Gondola. Take in 360-degree views of the Christchurch cityscape set against a scenic backdrop of the Canterbury Plains, Southern Alps, and Banks Peninsula. It’s a not-to-be-missed experience for visitors of all ages.
In the rugged wilderness outside of the towns of Wanaka, Glenorchy, Makarora, and Haast, Mt. Aspiring National Park is New Zealand’s third largest park. You’ll see glaciers hanging suspended on mountainsides that are crossed by backcountry trails. Part of a UNESCO World Heritage area, this South Island landscape is truly magnificent.
More Things to Do in South Island
With one of the largest collections of restored classic vehicles in existence, Bill Richardson Transport World is one of Invercargill’s most popular tourist attractions. Car enthusiasts ogle the retro Kombi vans, Model Ts, 1930s V8s, and vintage gas pumps, while kids enjoy the play area and wearable art displays.
Rising 141 feet (42 meters) above the turquoise waters of dramatic Kawarau Gorge, no attraction is more iconic to Queenstown than the historic Kawarau Suspension Bridge. Most thrill-seekers know that the bridge is the site of the world's first commercial bungee jump. It’s still possible to leap from a platform suspended from the bridge where it all began.
Coronet Peak is New Zealand’s oldest ski field and remains a popular choice for people heading to the slopes during the southern hemisphere’s ski season. Snow bunnies can take to one of the ski field’s many trails, while sightseers can enjoy the stunning views of the Wakatipu Basin and the Southern Alps from the summit of the peak.
When first constructed in the 1930s, New Regent Street was famously lauded as “the most beautiful street in New Zealand.” Today, after the devastating earthquakes of 2010 and 2011, the street has rebuilt its colorful façade—built in a Spanish Mission style—where colorful, two-story buildings host retailers, restaurants, coffee shops, and cafés. When the street was first built in the Great Depression, only 3 of the original 40 buildings were occupied by lease-paying tenants, due to the economic hardships of the time and the tenants’ inability to pay rent. Gradually, an increasing number of businesses were established, and the street was reconstructed as a pedestrian mall in 1994. When the fateful Christchurch earthquakes struck, New Regent Street was one of the first places to rebuild and reopen its doors—though many repairs were only temporary and are in need of a permanent fix. Either way, it remains as one of downtown Christchurch’s most popular venues for shopping, with the pastel colored, lightly hued buildings contributing an architectural charm.
The Avon River (Otakaro) flows from its source in the western suburbs of Christchurch and through the central city, making it a focal point for recreation. Leaving the central city, the Avon flows west and out to the Avon Heathcote Estuary. A popular destination with locals and tourists alike, you can walk along the Avon’s banks, relax in Hagley Park or the Botanic Gardens with a view of the river, or go on an English-style punt boat.
Across the road from New Zealand’s Christchurch International Airport lies the next best thing to visiting Antarctica itself: the International Antarctic Centre. Here the whole family can experience a simulation of the harsh Antarctic climate, learn all about the icy continent, and meet the center’s cutest residents—little blue penguins.
Torlesse Wines is one of the older wineries in the Waipara Valley and owns the title of being the first winery in Waipara to bottle with a screw cap instead of a cork. It started with one wine, and now all of Torlesse Wines have screw caps.
The winery produces a dozen wines including sauvignon blanc, Gewurztraminer, rose and a cabernet. The Torlesse Cellar Door is open for tastings seven days a week, from 11am to 5pm.
Take a break from the cars and crowds of Christchurch without leaving the city. Covering 407 acres (165 hectares) of central Christchurch, Hagley Park is a tranquil park full of green, open spaces. Take a paddleboat down the Avon River, play a match of soccer or rugby, or explore the flower beds and glasshouses of the Christchurch Botanic Gardens.
With a stark profile and dramatic location, Mitre Peak’s bare summit towers 5,551 feet (1,692 meters) above Milford Sound. The flanks of Mitre Peak drop steeply into the water, affording spectacular views of the mountain, whether you’re cruising past the base, kayaking in Milford Sound, or swooping by on a scenic flight.
New Zealand’s spectacular Fiordland region is home to Lake Te Anau, the 2nd-largest lake in the country. Explore the lake from the township of Te Anau near the lake outflow, or take a cruise along one of the three fjords forming arms that extend into the old-growth forest on the lake’s western flank.
Arguably one of Queenstown’s best hikes, Queenstown Hill is home to the popular Queenstown Hill Time Walk, where informative placards provides an overview of Queenstown’s fascinating history. To native Maori, this hill was known as Te Tapu Nui, or mountain of intense sacredness, which makes sense considering the epic views you’ll get from the top.
Climbing over 1,500 feet in only 1.5 miles, the steep climb is rewarded by views looking out over Lake Wakatipu, as well as The Remarkables and Southern Alps that are often snowcapped in the distance.
Aside from hiking, ATV and quad bike tours are a popular way to visit, which crisscross over 15 miles of off-road trails on the hill.
Looming over nearby Queenstown, the Remarkables are a formidable mountain range and one of New Zealand’s most popular ski fields. The Remarkables Ski Area has a wide range of exciting slopes and runs for skiers and snowboarders people of all ages and skill levels. Warm weather sees adventure here too, with hiking and biking trails galore.
Beneath towering Aoraki/Mount Cook, the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre is a tribute to the legendary New Zealand mountaineer and philanthropist. Discover peaks and valleys of Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park in the state-of-the-art cinema and study mementos from Hillary’s long life as an explorer.
Started in the early 1980s, the Waipara Springs Winery and Cafe can brag about having some of the oldest vines in the Waipara Valley. Across more than 64 acres (26 hectares), the site grows Riesling, sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, pinot noir and merlot vines.
Wine is produced from estate-grown fruit and is available to taste at the winery at the Southern Boundary Wines Cellar Door. Reservations are required for groups of eight or more. The winery also has a popular café that has a seasonal lunch menu focused on fresh local produce.
- Things to do in Queenstown
- Things to do in Akaroa
- Things to do in Wanaka
- Things to do in Blenheim
- Things to do in Picton
- Things to do in North Island
- Things to do in Tasmania
- Things to do in New South Wales
- Things to do in Wellington
- Things to do in Tongariro National Park
- Things to do in Hastings
- Things to do in Victoria
- Things to do in South Australia
- Things to do in Queensland
- Things to do in Rarotonga