South Island and North Island have two totally different vibes and I loved both islands equally. South Island has more adventurous activities than the North Island.
To get from North to South Island, we got a 3 hour ferry through Marlborough Sounds, from Wellington to Picton. The views on the boat were amazing!
Once we arrived on the North Island, we headed straight to Abel Tasman National Park. You can kayak, hike or take boat trips here. On our boat trip we saw split apple rock, seals and walked around the national park once we got to Anchorage. It was so gorgeous there. We booked with Aqua Taxi but there are lots of other options too.
Next stop was Westport, with a quick pit stop at Lake Nelson/Lake Rotoiti on the way. The views are amazing here and there is a pier you can jump off and get a pic for the ‘gram! Oh my God it was BALTIC and the eels in the water were massive. I didn’t see them before I jumped!
Westport is a surfing town. The weather wasn’t the best for us to surf, but I think it would be amazing in the summer. We stayed in Bazils Hostel and you can book the surfing lessons with them.
As part of the Kiwi Experience, the bus takes you to Lake Mahinapua for a night. (With a quick stop at Pancake Rocks and blowholes on the way) This was such a good night. You get a great dinner and breakfast, get to use the hot tubs, carve some jade stone and have a good night out. It was a themed fancy dress with good prizes up for grabs. It was an enjoyable night and nice to have good food cooked for you.
The next day we drove to Franz Josef. This was one of my favourite places. We checked into Rainforest Retreat. Here we did the Heli hike with Franz Josef Glacier Guides. It was one of the best things I have ever done! We got a helicopter to the glacier and hiked the glacier. It was so surreal and a real pinch me moment. It gets cancelled a lot so make sure to give yourself enough time there. We were lucky to be able to do ours on the first day.
If hiking is not your thing, you can take a scenic flight over the glacier too. I just thought it was so cool to be on a glacier. There are also glacial hot pools you can use here, skydiving, quad biking and a lot of walks.
On the way to Wanaka, we stopped at a few places. One was Lake matheson to see the mirror lake with views of Mt.Cook and Mt.Tasman. We also stopped at Thunder Creek Falls.
Wanaka is a lovely town with a lot of hikes. A lot of people will hike Roy’s Peak or Mt. Iron. The weather wasn’t good while we were there so we skipped that and I was also a bit hiked out!
Most people recognise Wanaka from the picture of ‘That Wanaka Tree’. The lone tree in the lake.
There are a lot of restaurants and cafes here and a cinema called Cinema Paradiso too.
Our final stop was Queenstown. We had a week here as there is so much to do and we wanted to chill out here. We checked into Tahuna Pod Hostel and couldn’t recommend it more.
You can go white water rafting, jet boating, skiing, bungee… the list goes on.
My boyfriend did the ledge bungy with AJ Hackett. We got the gondola up the mountain and did the Luge Skyline while we were up there. The views are so nice there too. We booked our white water rafting on bookme through go orange.
If you’re heading to Queenstown, you won’t miss Fergburger. It’s always busy! The beef burgers are amazing! Next door there is a bakery with cakes and pies and next to that is a gelato shop! All so good!
We also went to the Minus 5 icebar for a few cocktails. There are loads of good bars in Queenstown.
While in Queenstown we did a day trip to Milford sound. When we got there the views on the boat trip were lovely but it was a very, very long day on the bus. I had seen Marlborough Sounds on the way from North island to South Island so I felt like it was a lot of driving for similar views.
On the way to Milford Sounds we stopped at Eglinton valley, Mirror Lake and Knobs Flat.
- Give yourself a few days in Franz Josef if your heli hike gets cancelled
- If you have extra days, you can do the Deep South Package with Kiwi, but I wouldn’t do it on minimum time.
- 1876, Red Rock, World Bar, Cowboys are all good bars in Queenstown.
- There is a stand outside the ice bar in Queenstown with city guides. You’ll find a 2 for 1 voucher inside for the ice bar!
- Bookme is good website to book tours if you’re not booking through Kiwi Experience.
- Check out the Ben Lomond Hike in Queenstown
- We used Super Shuttle to get to the airport. Would really recommend. Cheap, punctual and they pick you up.
Top Tip Traveller 🙂