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Matteo Colombo
Matteo Colombo

New Zealand

New Zealand's

South Island

It seems as if Mother Nature has saved the best for New Zealand's South Island. Majestic glaciers and fiords captivate visitors and the lush rainforest beckons. Make an unforgettable trip to the paradise-like setting of Marlborough Sounds and explore the wilderness of Fiordland.

Here we go!

Remote and isolated

On the rugged South Island you can easily drive an entire day without encountering another soul, if you don’t count the sheep tranquilly grazing in the meadows. Of New Zealand's population of five million, only one million live on the South Island most of whom live in the larger cities like Christchurch and Dunedin. If you are looking for a quiet experience in pristine nature, this is the place to be!

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Rob Suisted


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Maridav / Shutterstock

1. Marlborough Sounds

Sunken valley

The islets of Marlborough Sounds contrast sharply with the turquoise water of the Pacific Ocean. Once upon a time this was a hilly landscape, now only the tops protrude above the water. According to Maori mythology, this is the sunken bow of the ship of Aoraki, one of the creators of the South Island.

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Armin Wurmser and Tina Gerber


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Armin Wurmser and Tina Gerber

For Kiwis, Marlborough is synonymous with award-winning Sauvignon Blancs and the famous green-lipped mussels. Book a seafood cruise to sample both. You may even spot dolphins swimming alongside the boat. Prefer to head out on your own? The Queen Charlotte route departs from the town of Picton and leads along the most scenic spots in the Sounds. The trail can be explored on foot, by mountain bike or sea kayak.

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2. Aoraki Mount Cook

Stargazing from the highest mountain

The snow-capped peaks of the New Zealand Alps form the natural division between the east and west of the South Island. Measuring 3724 metres, Aoraki Mount Cook is New Zealand's highest mountain and offers mountaineers various challenging climbing routes, glistening glaciers and crystal-clear mountain lakes. But the main attraction is even higher up.

The nights here are so dark that the park has been named the world's largest Dark Sky reserve: the ultimate stargazing destination! Go in search of the Southern Cross, shooting stars, nebulas and other heavenly bodies. In July and August you also have a good chance of seeing the Southern Lights.

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NZ One Skydive

3. Queenstown

Where adventure beckons

For the ultimate adrenalin kick, head to the mountain town of Queenstown. This adventure hub is wedged between Lake Wakatipu and the New Zealand Alps and is the birthplace of bungee jumping. Daredevils can get their thrills ziplining, river surfing, heli-skiing, wild water rafting and much more.

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Rhino's Ski Shack

After this much excitement, it's not for nothing that Queenstown is known for its vibrant nightlife. Sip a laid-back craft beer at Pub on Wharf, listen to hiphop in the basement of Rhino’s Ski Shack or cool off with a chilled cocktail in Below Zero: the largest ice bar in the southern hemisphere.

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Glacier Southern Lakes Helicopters



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4. Fox & Franz Josef glaciers

Through the rainforest and to the ice

Nowhere else in the world can you so easily walk on a glacier. The Fox and Franz Josef glaciers emerge high in the New Zealand Alps and then descend almost 3000 metres ending in the rainforest.

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Gary Parker / Stocksy

Because of the humid climate and steep grade, the glaciers move at a pretty fast pace, creating amazing ice sculptures, caves and caverns. The glaciers are easily explored on foot, but for a more spectacular approach take a helicopter ride to reach the most inaccessible spots. Afterwards, warm up in the Glacier Hot Pools where you can soak for hours amidst the lush rainforest.

4. Fox & Franz Josef glaciers

Through the rainforest and to the ice

Nowhere else in the world can you so easily walk on a glacier. The Fox and Franz Josef glaciers emerge high in the New Zealand Alps and then descend almost 3000 metres ending in the rainforest.

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Graeme Murray


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Graeme Murray

5. Fiordland National Park

A hiker's paradise

Fiordland, located on the southwest coast of the South Island, is New Zealand's largest nature reserve. The breathtaking landscape is composed of jagged mountain peaks, deep valleys, towering waterfalls and, as the name says, spectacular fiords that are every bit as beautiful as Norway’s.

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John Yunker / Shutterstock
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Stewart Nimmo

This vast wilderness is practically uninhabited, except for some special residents like dolphins, kiwi birds, kakapos and crested penguins. The Milford Track is known as one of the most beautiful hikes in the world. A four-day trek will take you to the most stunning locations.

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October

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