7 Things You Should Do on New Zealand’s South Island

7 Things You Should Do on New Zealand’s South Island

If you haven’t been able to tell from my Instagram or this blog, I am obsessed with New Zealand. The pristine landscapes, unique flora and fauna and the fact barely anyone lives there is my kind of heaven. I was fortunate enough recently to travel New Zealand’s South Island for three weeks in partnership with Stray – an experience that made me fall even more in love with this great nation.

While I spent all of my time on my New Zealand Working Holiday Visa on the North Island, it came as no surprise why everyone kept saying, “go south before you leave.” The north offers gorgeous beaches, lush hillscapes and modernity; New Zealand’s South Island boasts rocky alps, mystical fjordlands and moss-blanketed forests.

I’d have a hard time trusting anyone who said they didn’t enjoy their time on the South Island. There is so much to do and see – from extreme sports to chilled out cruises. If you’re curious as to what type of activities you can do during your visit, I’ve included some of my favorites below.

 

Although the options are endless on New Zealand's South Island, I've rounded up my favorites. Which ones would you do? www.willfulandwildhearted.com

Pin me to your favorite board, please!

 

 

1. Jump 16,500 feet out of an airplane

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New Zealand markets itself as the adventure capital of the world, and for good reason. This country’s natives are some of the most badass folk on planet Earth, and it often feels as though nothing is too extreme. There are several world-class skydive locations throughout New Zealand’s South Island, so take your pick! I personally chose to jump 16,500 feet over the Fox Glacier and loved every second.

 

2. Walk to Roy’s Peak

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Wanaka is one of those towns that I’ll always hold close to my heart. The tiny town features some of the most breathtaking scenery on New Zealand’s South Island and is far more inviting than its boisterous and touristy neighbor Queenstown. One of the most challenging walks you can do in town is the summit of Roy’s Peak – one of the most Insta-famous mountaintops in New Zealand. Although the steep trail may have you groaning of muscle aches, the views are worth it.

If you want to hike a lesser known mountain, there are plenty of hikes in Wanaka listed here.

 

3. Eat a Fergburger

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I want to disclose that I have been a vegetarian for nearly two decades. With that said, the veggie Fergburger options were some of the best I’d eaten in my lifetime. This is the sort of place I heard about while traveling through Southeast Asia – yep, it’s that good. While it may not be the “best in the world,” as it claims to be, it’s definitely a must-do while you’re in Queenstown. If you’d like a meat eater’s opinion, check out travelFREAK’s take on Fergburger.

*The burger in the photo is a meat burger that James devoured.

4. Walk the Hooker Valley Track

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With all the walks throughout New Zealand’s South Island, this one stood out. For starters, there were almost no hills along the entire path, which was quite different. Although I love a bit of a challenge, it was nice to give my legs a break after doing extensive walks nearly every day for three weeks. The trail comes to a finish at the base of Mount Cook, also known as Aoraki. We got to the end around dusk, and it was pretty cool to see the moon shining over the mountains on the trek back.

 

5. Cruise the Milford Sound

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This special fjordland is a bit magical. The region generally gets rain about 300 days out of the year, however, it was sunny when I visited. While I would have loved for a bit of rainy mist, the sunshine glistening over the waterfalls and waves was a unique occurrence within itself. The number of boats that go out each day are minimal, making it for a touristy-but-not-touristy experience.

 

6. Sail on a catamaran in Abel Tasman National Park

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Start your day off with a 2.5 hour coastal walk through the park and end at Anchorage Bay. The catamaran will pick you up from the Bay; you can relax and check out nature for the next 2 hours. Keep your eyes open for seals and little blue penguins!

 

7. Tour the region’s renowned vineyards

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Although Australia gets a lot of praise for its wine production, New Zealand is starting to make a name for itself. Should you find yourself in this northern part of New Zealand’s South Island, I highly recommend touring a vineyard. The Marlborough region is renowned for its white wines, some of which have unique hints of passion fruit and gooseberry. The Rippon vineyard in Wanaka (pictured) uses biodynamic farming techniques, which makes for delicious and completely organic products. Almost all of the vineyard offer super cheap — if not free — tastings, so why not take advantage of it?

 

*Honorable mention: Bungy jump in Queenstown

If you weren’t aware, New Zealand is the birthplace of bungy jumping. The extreme sport was invented by Kiwi A.J. Hacket in 1986. The sport is a safer version of the jumping ritual performed on the Pentecost island of Vanuatu, which inspired Hackett, called Ngol. Hackett and his friends introduced bungy to the global population by jumping off some of the world’s most famous landmarks – including the Eiffel Tower.

 

Wondering how you’ll get around New Zealand’s South Island? Hitch a ride with Stray!

new zealand's south island www.willfulandwildhearted.com

If you are keen on adventuring through this magical country and region, I do recommend booking a ticket with Stray. Your hop-on, hop-off ticket will enable you to travel with 100 percent freedom, and you’ll get to meet some incredible people along the way. The Stray bus routes are certainly not limited to New Zealand’s South Island; you can travel the entirety of the country – and your ticket is valid up to one year. If you’d like to read more of my experience, feel free to click here, or else check out the Stray website for more options!

 

Which of the above would you do if you had the opportunity?

 

Disclaimer: James and I were guests of Stray during our three week journey. Regardless of this perk, I wouldn’t recommend the service if I didn’t love it. And I LOVED it. 

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35 Comments

  1. May 23, 2017 / 7:15 pm

    it does seem very hard to believe that some one wouldnt enjoy there visit here! Though the first option looks quite scary to me hahaah Roys peak is by far my favorite!

    • May 25, 2017 / 7:47 pm

      Roy’s Peak was absolutely incredible. I still can’t believe somewhere so lovely exists!

  2. May 24, 2017 / 7:03 pm

    Jumping out of an airplane sounds terrify/exciting/omgeeee, did you get video?! I’d love to go on more winery tours.

    • May 25, 2017 / 7:48 pm

      I did get the video/photo package. I have a bit of snot coming out of my nose in the video 😛 it’s so funny!

  3. May 24, 2017 / 7:24 pm

    I’m going to Auckland this August and I’ve heard so much about the South Island that people encourage me to go there. I won’t have time so maybe next time! I love the view from Roy’s Peak so I should definitely do that next time!

    • May 25, 2017 / 7:49 pm

      I lived in Auckland so if you have any questions let me know! It’s a great place for sure 🙂

  4. May 24, 2017 / 7:36 pm

    Great read and amazing pics. Loved Hooker valley and Milford Sound pics, they are breathtaking. Would love to go to New Zealand one day.

    • May 25, 2017 / 7:50 pm

      I hope you make it there, too. It’s a really special place. So serene and lush <3

  5. May 24, 2017 / 7:49 pm

    New Zealand has been very high on my bucket list for quite some time now. Love this list – i will be bookmarking it!

    • May 25, 2017 / 7:49 pm

      Thanks a lot!! I hope you get to New Zealand soon 🙂

  6. May 24, 2017 / 7:58 pm

    Those nature photos are stunning! I haven’t made it to New Zealand yet, but when I do I will certainly check out your tips! And the Stray Bus seem very convenient. Thank you 🙂

    • May 25, 2017 / 7:47 pm

      THe Stray bus was super convenient and really allowed for me to see what I wanted to within a short-ish time frame. You’ll love New Zealand!

  7. May 24, 2017 / 8:22 pm

    Those are some absolutely breathtaking sights! I’ve always wanted to do some of those like skydiving and bungee jumping, I guess I know where I need to try them now!

    • May 25, 2017 / 7:46 pm

      New Zealand is definitely the place to try it all!

  8. May 24, 2017 / 9:39 pm

    Ah, every single one of these is absolutely a must-do! I cannot wait until the day I finally make it to New Zealand – I have saved this to my Pinterest for future notice 🙂 PS – how do you look so serene and calm while skydiving?! hahaha, I love it.

    • May 25, 2017 / 7:45 pm

      Girl you’ll love New Zealand!! To be honest, I think I look so calm because I had been in complete shock up until that moment and to see the earth below me like that was one of the coolest experiences ever. You gotta do it once you get there!

  9. May 24, 2017 / 9:54 pm

    I loved the South Island although I did my skydive in Rotorua. Milford sound is sublime and even though the weather was rubbish when I was there I remember it as though it was yesterday

    • May 25, 2017 / 7:44 pm

      I almost would have liked for it to be a bit gloomier when we visited Milford Sound — it was almost *too* sunny. I think it rains there quite often, though!

  10. Rosi C.
    May 24, 2017 / 11:39 pm

    i have not visited but i hope to one day. definitely will do all esp the huge burger. enjoy

    • May 25, 2017 / 7:44 pm

      Glad to hear it!! The huge burger is one of the most popular food places I’d seen around 🙂

  11. May 24, 2017 / 11:39 pm

    Wow – New Zealand has never really been high on my bucket list. But it looks amazing! Was that your first time skydiving? Were you very afraid?

    • May 25, 2017 / 7:43 pm

      I was pretty scared, but mostly in shock of “oh-my-god-I-can’t-believe-I’m-actually-doing-this” type shock. It was so incredible!

  12. With these seven things a traveler should do on New Zealand is really awesome. I can truly feel how adventurous you both are and this is as well my kind of adventure. I haven’t been to New Zealand and I’ll surely pen this on my bucket list. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

    • May 25, 2017 / 7:42 pm

      I hope you can get there someday!! I think you’ll love it 🙂

  13. May 25, 2017 / 2:33 pm

    I love reading these types of posts! I travelled to New Zealand South Island as well, so this is a walk down memory lane! I would add to your list that you have to go to Queenstowns to do lots of adventure sports there. Though it’s touristy, it’s still lots of fun and there are so many cool things to do if you love some outdoorsy challenge.

    • May 25, 2017 / 7:42 pm

      I included bungy as an option for Queenstown, but the other more adventurous activities can be done elsewhere for cheaper!! I loved my skydive over the Fox Glacier — higher altitude and less expensive than Queenstown prices. Win-win!

  14. May 25, 2017 / 5:53 pm

    The views in New Zealand are simply breathtaking. I am afraid of heights, so I’ll skip the skydiving, but everything else sounded like so much fun. And that Fergburger looks and sounds delicious!

    • May 25, 2017 / 7:41 pm

      New Zealand is completely unreal. I’m really scared of heights as well — you should try skydiving to conquer your fear 🙂

  15. May 25, 2017 / 6:34 pm

    I am going to New Zealand in December and I am so excited! So I’ll definitely use these tips. I am a meat-eater, so I would definitely want to try that fergburger. But I’d love to visit the wineries and go on a cruise too!

  16. May 26, 2017 / 2:36 am

    South Island looks really happening. Apart from admiring the natural and scenic beauty I can see that there are so many activities to do. Jumping off from an airplane in these beautiful environs is something that immediately appeals to me. Trekking is another activity that I would love to do here.

  17. May 26, 2017 / 8:31 am

    I would definitely go for the fergburger first and then probably try everything else except bungee jumping and skydiving. Not very brave you see! Haha

  18. May 26, 2017 / 3:48 pm

    Wow you’re not kidding, there are a ton of things to do on South Island and everything looks freaking breathtaking! I have always wanted to do skydiving somewhere with an epic backdrop, NZ might be the spot! Also, that burger looks BOMB! Your photos are giving me serious travel envy, I want to see each and every one of these places. Although your photos are beautiful I am sure they don’t come close to actually seeing it for yourself!

  19. May 29, 2017 / 4:43 pm

    Had never heard of Roy’s Peak, so pencil that in as we love to reach scenic peaks – but were pretty much planning on seeing everything else on your list next year – so I suppose that’s a good sign. Sorry to say it though, but have to say Go Seahawks!

  20. June 21, 2017 / 11:51 pm

    I haven’t made it to NZ yet. Mostly because of the cost to get there! I’ve also heard it isn’t exactly a budget-friendly location. I am dying to do the Milfred Trek though!

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