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From the sandy coves of the Marlborough Sounds in the north to the protected wilderness of Stewart Island in the far south, New Zealand's South Island is an ecological gem. Summer is the perfect time to enjoy its natural beauty, whether you plan to go on a long tramp or just take a lengthy scenic drive. Up in the Southern Alps, visitors can get close-up views of the country's highest, most spectacular peak - Aoraki/Mt. Cook. Nestled in the Alps' foothills is Queenstown, which has earned a reputation as the world's adventure capital by offering everything from bungy jumping and jetboating to canyoning and sky-diving. Farther south, the ...

From the sandy coves of the Marlborough Sounds in the north to the protected wilderness of Stewart Island in the far south, New Zealand's South Island is an ecological gem. Summer is the perfect time to enjoy its natural beauty, whether you plan to go on a long tramp or just take a lengthy scenic drive. Up in the Southern Alps, visitors can get close-up views of the country's highest, most spectacular peak - Aoraki/Mt. Cook. Nestled in the Alps' foothills is Queenstown, which has earned a reputation as the world's adventure capital by offering everything from bungy jumping and jetboating to canyoning and sky-diving. Farther south, the island's coastline splits into majestic fjords, including the remote and utterly beautiful Milford and Doubtful Sounds. Animal lovers head straight to Kaikoura to observe breaching whales and go swimming with dolphins. Outside the brilliant patchwork of national parks, with their sundry hiking trails, are some attractive townships. These include pretty Nelson, its creative spirit summed up in the World of Wearable Art, and the spacious, laidback environs of Christchurch.

Paul Smitz
About the Expert

Paul Smitz has coauthored a dozen guidebooks for Lonely Planet on places such as Australia, New Zealand, Malaysian Borneo, Brunei, various Pacific Islands, Prague, and Brussels.

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Now Happening in New Zealand's South Island (Summer)

Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Located in the South Pacific the South Island is the larger of the two major islands of New Zealand, the other being the more populous North Island.
  • Language: English, Maori, NZ Sign Language
  • Currency: New Zealand Dollar
  • Weather: Rainfall | Daylight
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    November to April