Top 10 things to see in New Zealand (South Island)
- The Blue Pools
About 1.5 hours drive from Queenstown, there is a small car park, with a 15 minute walk leading to the blue pools. The first thoughts walking over the swing bridge is WOW, but don’t be fooled, the view is even better just around the corner. On one side it looks like a river of stunning blue water, and on the other side it is a pool of crystal clear blue water. Amazing to visit in winter for a view, or summer for a swim!
- Hokitika Gorge
About 45 minutes from Hokitika town centre you will find yourself on a 10 minute walk through a rainforest. You are greeted with a swing bridge, situated over the Gorge. In winter you will see a green/blue calm water, and in summer it turns to a gorgeous bright blue, as the glacial water melts. You can cross the swing bridge and go right down to the waters edge or climb over the mossy rocks.
- Devils Punchbowl
Situated in Bealey, this waterfall was the most amazing one I have seen in my life. The walk was up a lot of stairs, but so worth it. After 20 minutes there is a lookout about 10 metres above the river, where you can see the waterfall from top to bottom. We were there on a foggy day, which made the water look as though it was falling from the sky. Speechless.
Queenstown is the most common tourist attraction, but the reason this is on the list for me is because of the drive to get there. Around every corner there was new snow capped mountains and lookouts, we even got to see some snow on one of our stops. Queenstown is known for its tourist attractions, of which we only tried one. We took the gondola up to the top of the mountain to get a view over the town, although we did go when it was dark so it wasn’t the most ideal time of day, I could tell how it would just be mind blowing during the daytime on a sunny day.
We only stopped in Haast for the night, but the scenery was amazing. We stayed at the “top 10 holiday parks” in a small apartment, which I would 10/10 recommend for anyone staying on a budget, for $130 we got a kitchen, bathroom, balcony, tv, and the comfiest king bed I’ve ever slept in. We woke up to the most amazing sunrise over our balcony.
- Lake Ianthe
This was just a pit stop on the way, but I had to put it in here because it was just breathtaking. Although the lake was only small, the glassy still water was just phenomenal, you could see the fish swimming from metres away, the water was so clear that you couldn’t tell where it started and where it stopped. If you’re road tripping the South Island definitely make the stop to lake Ianthe!
- Lake Pulaki
Lake Pulaki is in the middle of the island, so the scenery to get there was mostly just mountains, but this lake is amazing. We were first stunned when we drove past the canal, the water was the most amazing bright blue I had seen so far on the trip. We didn’t figure out how to go down to the lakes edge, but the view was still beautiful from a far.
- Lake Tekapo
We visited lake Tekapo after lake Pulaki, as they are on 40 minutes from each other. We spent the night in lake Tekapo at “the big sky apartments” which was just amazing, the owners were so lovely and the space was such a great size. In lake Tekapo you can visit the hot springs, ice skating and skiing. Not to mention the crystal clear lake that the town in situated upon. This was a great place to stay the night with lots of activities as there are not as many sights to see on this side of the island.
We only stopped in Wanaka for a short time, but the drive around was pure bliss. With so many scenic stops it’s impossible not to take a good photo. The lake itself is huge, and on a non windy day would make the perfect reflection of the trees and mountains in the background.
- Franz Josef Glacier
I didn’t make it to the end of the glacier walk (damn sickness), but Matt did. The walk is quite long but the view is perfect. The glacier is amazing, if you get to the end of the walk you get to see the glacier for all its glory, front on from the bottom. If you have the money to spend 100% book a scenic flight to the top of the glacier!
Of course there are more amazing spots to visit, but these were some of my favourites!!