My top ten places to visit in New Zealand South Island for people that like to use their legs

the road to Glenorchy

Knowing New Zealand as well as I now do, I would like to let you into some secrets….

I went for a clinic appointment last week.
 
 The nurse, who knows me quite well, was interested to find out how my trip to New Zealand had gone.
 
 And even more interested to know which places I would recommend for a three week tour. She is off there soon.
 
 Now I spent most of my time down under in South Island ( some six months or more in total) over three visits. But I have also driven from the south to the north, so have been to some of the top sights in both islands.
 
 If I had my time again, and I only had three weeks, then I would stick to South Island, for it is there that I find the spectacular scenery that I so love. The roads are quieter, and the hiking is lush and green, as the climate is wetter and cooler.
 
 So for you, JA, and anyone else who is interested, here is a list of my top 10 places to visit.
 
 Others may disagree; this is just my personal list of favourites.

  • Queenstown
Queenstown beach

take a climb up Queenstown Hill.

the view from Queenstown Hill and the basket of dreams

and if you are feeling really energetic, take the cable car up and climb all or some of the route to the summit of Ben Lomond.

  • from Queesntown dont miss one of the world’s most scenic drives to Glenorchy at the top of Lake Wakitipu. From there a trip up the Dart River is a chance to get to the heart of Lord of the Rings Scenery
Glenorchy
Dart River at Paradise
  • Doubftful Sound
Doubtful Sound

Swim or kayak with dolphins and catch your own fish for tea with Deepcove charters

doubtful dolphins

Doubtful Sound is much less accessible and therefore much quieter than Milford Sound.

If you can’t get to Doubtful then please go to Milford. It is also a truly wonderful place.

Milford Sound
Milford Sound
Milford Sound
Hollyford track
Hollyford track
  • Hike the Hollyford Track or the Milford or the Routeburn. You will need to book with a guided trip but the landscape is worth the pain, and even the rain.
  • Mount Cook and the Hooker Valley track passing Lake Pukaki enroute.
Lake Pukaki
Hooker Valley track
Hooker Valley track
Rob Roy glacier track
Rob Roy glacier track
Rob Roy glacier track

then head over to the West Coast for some more spectacualr coastline and glaciers, passing through Wanaka on the way.

Wanaka
  • the glaciers Franz Josef or Fox
Franz Josef glacier
Franz Josef from a helicopter

hike along the West Coast

Abel Tasman
  • Abel Tasman for a very different hiking experience along a coastal path in warmer waters and sunnier climes
abel tasman

And I nearly forgot Stewart Island on the very south coast. The birdlife there is second to none as they have islands with no predators. You can get there by ferry or plane.

Stewart Island flights

go kiwi hunting on Ulva Island, and listen to the birdsong
 
 I love the song of the bellbird

we saw a Kiwi in broad daylight on Ulva Island

the robins are very friendly

Ulva Island
flying to Stewart Island

So I didn’t quite get that all in a logical order, but you will be able to sort that out.
 
 If not, I am happy to come along as your guide and photographer.

Queenstown sunset
Routeburn selfie