For 50 NZD you can already fly from Auckland “North Island” to Queenstown “South Island”. Queenstown is known for the many sport activities, such as bungee jumping, skiing, jet boat rides, hiking and mountain biking. If you are not into adrenaline sports you can enjoy the impressive scenery, the beautiful city or the Wakatipu Lake.
During our trip to Queenstown we rented a room for 3 nights in the Black Sheep Backpackers. One big advantage of staying here is the free bike rental service, which is a great way to see the surroundings of Queenstown. Make sure you check the weather before renting a bike, because Queenstown is known for its large amount of rainfall.
Queenstown is also the gateway to go to Milford Sound, a must see when visiting the South Island of New Zealand. Other places to go to are the Kiwi Bird Park or the Queenstown Garden.
Also don’t forget to order a burger at the Ferg Burger restaurant, the most famous burger place in whole New Zealand. Don’t get surprised when there is no more table left for you, the restaurant is extreme popular. A “huge” burger cost between 11 and 15 NZD.
In our opinion Milford Sound has the most impressive scenery of New Zealand. This world heritage is also called the 8th wonder of the world. Taking a bus/boat tour from Queenstown will set you back anywhere from 100 NZD till 175 NZD. We booked the cheapest tour, which can be booked via “naked bus“, a local bus transport company. For this price you will get the same tour as you will get when you book via another tour provider, however this price doesn’t include lunch so make sure you bring your own food and drinks.
The Milford Sound tour starts early in the morning “7:00AM” and you come back at the beginning of the evening. Most of the trip you will spend in the bus, however you will not get bored. The bus driver will explain a lot about the surroundings and stops often so you can make pictures of the stunning scenery and wildlife “kea birds”, have a toilet brake, do some short hiking through the rainforest or fill your water bottle with fresh glacier water. Arriving at the last stop you will hop on a boat, which will take you around Milford Sound. Some of the highlights of the boat trip are the wild Fur Seals, the Penguins and the short stop under a huge waterfall, so get ready to get wet or stay inside!
A little less than 5 hours from Queenstown you will find Lake Tekapo. Tekapo is a very quiet small village known for its Salmon and the clear sky. Tekapo is almost untouched by human civilisation making it a very peaceful place to stay. Go out in the night to make some amazing photos of the Milky Way, which you can even see with the naked eye. Or relax next to the “milky blue” lake surrounded by colourful flowers.
You can also see Mountain Cook from here, which is the tallest mountain in New Zealand. You can take the Cook Connect shuttle bus to go to Mountain Cook and spend some time hiking. A round ticket from Tekapo cost 70 NZD. A short walk from Tekapo you will find the Church of the Good Shepherd. The smallest church in New Zealand with a peaceful and relaxing view.
There isn’t much more to do here, so we advice you to stay no longer than 3 days.
Unfortunately Christchurch, also called capital city of the South Island, has been hit by an earthquake back in 2011. Many parts of the city are still destroyed and there isn’t much to do in the city. Many areas are still under construction, churches are destroyed and most people moved out to the north. Because of this, the city is very quiet. To rebuild the city, the government supplied containers which locals use as restaurants. These containers and many walls in the city are decorated with all kinds of graffiti paintings, giving the city an interesting look.
Also don’t forget to visit the Canterbury museum and the botanic garden, which has many large trees, a rose garden and some small pools with birds.
Kaikoura is a town on the east coast of the South Island and is known for its marine life encounters and coastal walks. Populair things to do are Whale spotting, swimming with dolphins or fur seals or walking around the impressive coastline. If you don’t want to pay for expensive tours you can spot fur seals by yourself all around the coast. You can come very close, but be careful because fur seals can be aggressive.
If you have your own car you could also drive to Ohau Stream Walkway and Waterfall. This waterfall is a populair tourist destination because of the many baby seals playing in and around this waterfall. Unfortunately there isn’t any tour or shuttlebus leaving from Kaikoura to the Ohau Stream, so you need your own car if the Ohau Stream Waterfall is on your to-do list.
If you enjoy fresh seafood, you will love Kaikoura. There are many small restaurant next to the ocean where they sell fresh crayfish, scallops or grilled fish.