My best trip last year goes to New Zealand! We ended 2017 and starting our 2018 at Queenstown, thus this New Zealand South Island was such a memorable trip for us. We were so awed with New Zealand vast landscape and scenic views. There are too many places we went during our trip, however i managed to shortlist 15 Places Worth to Visit at South Island of New Zealand.
Can i say that i already fall in love with Aerial View of Queenstown? Look at this beautiful mountainous formation and valleys!
a. Arthurs Point
I blogged about this place before, must visit Onsen Spa at Queenstown, this was one of the highlight during my trip to New Zealand. Read my review about Onsen Hot Pool Experience.
b. Lake Wakatipu
Lake in the middle of the Queenstown, where you can enjoy scenery of Queenstown, surrounded by mountains.
Must try food in Queenstown: famous Mr Fergburger and Mrs Ferg Bakery and Gelato.
Glenorchy is just around 45mins scenic drive from Queenstown, this place kinda cute with its iconic red house. This amazing place surrounded by mountains. Thanks God for nice weather, if you have spare time you have to visit the natural trekking. Sadly we got lost that time and didn’t manage to find the way to visit the trekking path.
3. Lake Tekapo
a. Lake Tekapo
Lake Tekapo is one of the beautiful lake at NZ South Island, awarded as one of New Zealand’s Dark Sky Reserve. So you can do stargazing at this spot at night.
b. Church of the Good Shepherd
One of the famous spot at Lake Tekapo is this iconic church. Small (look more towards chapel for me), picturesque stone church overlooking Lake Tekapo..
Millions of Awe-Inspiring Stars ✨ The most beautiful sky i’ve ever seen! Omg night photography so interesting! Woke up midnight and we tried to take photos for 2 hrs in cold night, but it was worth it! New Zealand is home to the world’s largest Dark Sky Reserve. Wish can do more of stargazing whenever we travel.. #YuniQuetravels #YuniInNZ #StarryNight #ChurchOfTheGoodShepherd #NewZealand #TravelNewZealand #stargazing
4. Mount John Observatory
Another must visit spot, as you can see the top view of Lake Tekapo from top of Mount John and view Lake Aleksandrina as well. At Mount John University Observatory, they have the stargazing tours at night, this is one of the spot at Tekapo for stargazing.
Driving down Mount John is pretty scenic too! Oh and we need to pay to go up, using the road cost you NZ$8.
You can also visit Astro Cafe up there, food selection there not much but must try the coffee! I’ve never been addicted to latte before but in NZ i enjoyed latte so much!
5. Lake Pukaki
6. Lake Wanaka
Lake Wanaka is one of must visit when you went to NZ South Island, famous with the Lone tree and dramatic landscape.
7. Lake Hawea
At Lake Hawea.. During summer a lot of people do camping surrounding, it was indeed a very peak season… Saw few groups even had party in front of their tents.
The view surrounding the lake is awesome! This is the nearest lake to Lake Wanaka.
8. Blue Pools
Striking blue turquoise with crystal clear water, Blue Pool is really mean for outdoor activity. Some people were jumping from the hanging bridge, some were swimming, some were just picnic beside the pool. That sum up the summer activities around Blue Pool.
9. Mount Cook
Scenic drive towards Mount Cook area.
a. Hooker Valley
Hooker Valley journey begun..
it was unplanned journey as we need to rush back to reach our next accomodation. But we saw the review on google and this is totally worth to visit!!! Walking one of the tracks is the best way to experience this ancient landscape. The track leads up the Hooker Valley and along the Hooker River, ending at the glacier lake, where there are amazing views of Aoraki/Mount Cook.
For around 3.5hrs return walk you will be enjoying this alpine view by walking thru gravel path, bridges crossing river and deck pathway..
In #NewZealand the further you walk and the higher you climb, the better the view.. Spent 3hrs non stop walking thru this #HookerValley and enjoyed the scenic landscape view. Walking one of the tracks is the best way to experience this ancient landscape. The track leads up the Hooker Valley and along the Hooker River, ending at the glacier lake, where there are amazing views of Aoraki/Mount Cook. #YuniQuetravels #YuniInNZ #travelNewZealand
b. NZ Alpine Lavender Field
On our way to Mount Cook and we stopped by NZ Alpine Lavender Farm because Ben Lomond farm at Queenstown closed during Christmas holiday. There is another Lavender farm at Wanaka too but aftaid no time to go.
10. Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier
a. Waterfalls Along The Way to Glaciers
Thunder Creek Fall
There are a lot of waterfalls along our way to Fox Glacier but we didn’t stop at every point, some of them need to walk pretty far and we have not enough time if we visited all. We picked this Thunder Creek Fall which is only 5mins walk from the entrance.
The Chasm, one of the stops that you shouldn’t miss out..
Take this 20-minute loop walk into the rainforest and to an impressive chasm. Floodwater from the Cleddau River has brought hard rock down the mountain to carve out this display of potholes and waterfalls.
b. Franz Josef Glacier
Went to Franz Josef because we thought that another day can explore Fox Glacier (which we didn’t manage to go due to cancellation of our Heli Hike tour).
Decided to do walking to glacier lookout which supposed only take 45mins return walk, didn’t know that we picked wrong way, we went to the tail of glacier instead. We have to walk 1hr and 45mins return and it was alrd 7.30pm in the evening, however it was such a nice evening walk and we managed to enjoy scenery along our way to glacier.
Glacier hike nowadays only can be reached by heli ride, it is impossible to even reach tail of glacier by foot.
11. Lake Matheson
Lake Matheson, sadly it started to get cloudy and windy, unable to see the reflections of the mountains. Better to visit on the dawn or dusk where the cloud lesser and not so windy. Wish to come back here again to get that perfect reflection shot. Weather is such an important factor to get that perfect reflection.
Journey to this Reflection point took around 30mins, the loop journey will take around 1.5hrs. We didn’t go thru the loop and we made our way back.
12. Milford Sound and the Waterfalls surroundings
a. Milford Sound Highway
The view not to be missed, it looks like heaven indeed! Countless waterfall and dreamy fog, it was such a beautiful sight i’ve ever seen in my life. The landscape are vast and dramatic! Milford Sound was another highlight during our recent trip to New Zealand because the landscape is very unique.
b. Milford Sound Cruise
One tip, take the most early cruise to avoid crowds. Morning might be rained, but don’t feel dishearten, as raining at Milford Sound is like blessing in disguise, you can enjoy more waterfalls than dry weather. Called by Rudyard Kipling as the “Eighth Wonder of the World”, Milford Sound comes a close second to the mountains of Tahiti in recording the highest rainfall in the world. In fact rainy day is the best time to visit Milford Sound anyway, for one simple reason: WATERFALLS!!! Hundreds, if not thousands, of waterfalls. Rain creates even more powerfull waterfalls.
At one spot we spotted baby seal sunbathing on the rock, they call the spot as Seal Rock. We enjoyed splashes of fresh spring water too as the cruise came closer to the powerful waterfalls.
Early morning cruise (ours was 7.50am) is recommended because lesser people and the price is much cheaper, easier to get parking too. The peak hour is noon time and the cruise price much higher.
Milford Sound – most scenic place on my trip in #NewZealand Came to #MilfordSound in rainy day is a blessing in disguise.. In fact rainy day is the best time to visit Milford Sound anyway, for one simple reason. WATERFALLS!!! Hundreds, if not thousands, of waterfalls. Rain creates even more waterfalls. Called by Rudyard Kipling as the “Eighth Wonder of the World”, Milford Sound comes a close second to the mountains of Tahiti in recording the highest rainfall in the world. Torrential deluge can add to the drama of the place, swelling waterfalls to frightening capacity and magnificent effect. Some of these waterfalls start so high up in the mountains that their stream never reaches the sea below – the water simply disperses into a mist and drifts away, carried off by the wind into nothingness. This moody world of grey skies, soft cloud, ethereal sprays and cascading streams is pure magic. #YuniQuetravels #YuniInNZ #travelNewZealand #pureNewZealand
“This moody world of grey skies, soft cloud, ethereal sprays and cascading streams is pure magic.”
13. Lindis Pass
Scenic drive through Lindis Pass was such an experience. The landscape is empty, but immensely gorgeous!!! What you’ll see is mostly grass on mountain slopes; yellow-brownish grass to be more precise that looks like very short and soft fur from afar. Go to few lookouts to enjoy the overall view of this scenic highway.
Chasing the sun and clouds.. ⛅️⛅️⛅️ Scenic drive through Lindis Pass was such an experience. The landscape is empty, but immensely gorgeous!!! Lindis Pass can be best described as "sculptured smooth hillslopes and prominent ridges in montane to sub-alpine snow tussock grassland with very occasional shrubs". What you'll see is mostly grass on mountain slopes; yellow-brownish grass to be more precise that looks like very short and soft fur from afar. The color of the grass really pops out during early morning hours. #YuniQuetravels #YuniInNZ #NewZealand #travelNewZealand
If you chase Lupins during summer, Cardrona is one the spot i recommend to check. Along the highway, there are countless spots for taking shots with Lupins. Lupins nearer to rivers grown more compact..
Read my tips on chasing lupins on my post: “Chasing Lupins at South Island New Zealand”
However, even though there are no lupins, highway in New Zealand South Island are generally scenic, we both enjoyed driving there.
Another lupins shots, why not?! 💁🏻♀️ but no more pretty dresses because we spent the rest of days exploring nature, i could only depend on the sportwear and heattech to support my dear life against the winds 😂 Luckily my @lashnbrow_lkj eyelash extension was still standing strong, less lashes dropping somemore.. #YuniQuetravels #YuniInNZ #travelNewZealand #NewZealand
15. Kawarau River
We stopped by Kawarau River Bridge to see the bungy jumping, you can do that too! It’s one of popular activity in NZ.
a. AJ Hackett Bungee Jumping Bridge
Sharing my simple itinerary here, however this itinerary may vary than your own itinerary depend on the season you plan to travel. In summer, you can do more activities and journeys compare to winter season as you will have longer daylight.
- 1st Day: Flight from Auckland to Queenstown
- 2nd Day: Queenstown – Onsen Hot Pools, Lake Wakatipu, Kawarau River Bridge (you may try bungee jumping here at AJ Hackett), Lindis Pass, Lake Pukaki, Lake Tekapo
- 3rd Day: Lake Tekapo – Church of The Good Sheperd, Mount John Observatory, stargazing at Church of The Good Sheperd
- 4th Day: Mount Cook – NZ Alpine Lavender, Hooker Valley, Lake Hawea
- 5th Day: Lake Hawea, Blue Pools and Waterfalls, Lake Matheson, Fox Glacier, Josef Franz Glacier (you can go for glacier hiking there, we were unable to do this activity due to weather) – try to find activities at Klook. We tried to book this activities as you can enjoy scenic aerial view and glacier hike experience: Flying Fox Heli Hike Christchurch (they offered refund as the activity we booked got cancelled).
- 6th Day: Journey from Fox Glacier to Te Anau (7 hours journey!), Lake Wanaka
- 7th Day: Milford Sound & Journey back to Queenstown (4 hours journey!)
- 8th Day: Flight from Queenstown to Auckland
ACCOMODATION TYPE & TIPS
Frankly speaking, accomodation are very limited during peak season. We had trouble booking our accomodation as the available room nearby the main attraction were very rare. If there were a few appearing on Booking.com or AirBnB or any other website, they will be either very far so we have to reroute or expensive. We have to check Booking.com on our daily basis because we started to find our accomodation. So if your itinerary had been fixed, you have to quickly settle accomodation as soon as possible.
Type of accomodation in New Zealand can be varied depend on your preference and comfort level that you want to achieve during your holiday. Here are few options you might consider for your accomodation, most possibly from the cheapest to most expensive option:
Hostel most probably is the most pocket friendly option for every travellers, as they are quite affordable and strategically located near to central area/ main attraction. The thing need to bear is the bathroom sharing.
b. Holiday Park
For us, this is the best option. Holiday park is where you can have the private cabin or tent with shared facilities like bathroom and kitchen. We ended up enjoying our time staying there as we had fun preparing foods and had it beside the scenic lake. We recommended Lake Tekapo Holiday Park.
Campervan rent might be higher than normal car and you have to find Holiday Park to stop and paying for charging and using the common facilities. However campervan offering more flexibility compare to other type of accomodation, as they can stop and camp whenever they feel like to stay. In NZ, they have designated locations for campervan overnight.
AirBnB doesn’t come really cheap when it comes to holiday season and i found less flexibility as the host usually will have rules to be followed and strict cancellation might be an issue. Arrange a meeting with the host (if the host not staying at the place you rent) might be an issue as well. As much as possible i try not to book AirBnB.
Hotel is the safest option however it comes with the price you’ll have to pay. The reception available 24hours and they come with private room and facilities.
If you have more budget, opt for resort. However i wouldn’t recommend to stay at expensive resort unless you plan to layback there whole day. We come to NZ simply want to explore outdoor and nature, so i always find no point staying at expensive resort if you don’t use the facilities at all.
1. Good thing in NZ all the National Park have this information make it easy to estimate the time. We always underestimate our time because to see the nice things you have to walk and consume a lot of time. So estimate your time and give more allowance if you expect to see more things.
2. Hiking is my cardio! 💪🏻 In #NewZealand the further you walk and the higher you climb, the better the view..
3. Road system in New Zealand is really good, drive follow the speed rules at particular areas to be safe and avoid summon.
4. Layering needed even though for summer, because sometimes the weather can be hot, windy or even cold. You can can style your summer dress with light coat or jacket.
5. Enjoy as much as possible favourite outdoor activities which only can be done in summer, because you don’t know when you will be able to visit New Zealand again in summer.
New Zealand is such an amazing and eye opening destination, which is worth to visit at least once in your lifetime. I wish this write up and photos can be a guide if you consider heading to New Zealand for your upcoming trip. Happy planning!