Ruth and I seriously considered staying in New Zealand for good, if only it was just a short hop across the channel! We will go back someday that’s for certain to visit the (many) bits that we missed. Please enjoy this post by David Wright about 3 places that should definitely be on your to-do list in NZ.
The South Island of New Zealand is less populated than its northern counterpart, but it doesn’t mean there’s anything less to do. In fact, plenty of people think it’s even more fun than up north. From cities to mountains to the Tuscan vibe of its wine country, the South Island is a favorite of many travellers. Let’s see what’s in store for you on your next visit!
If you have ever wanted to bungee jump, then Queenstown is the place to do it – as it’s where bungy jumping was invented! And because of its reputation, Queenstown now has a whole host of other death-defying entertainment for those who love the rush. From parasailing high above Lake Wakatipu to skiing on the accurately named mountain range Remarkables, Queenstown will keep you going until you can’t take it anymore.
But you won’t find only adrenaline junkies in Queenstown; family fun abounds as well. There’s the panoramic Skyline for spectacular views; farm visits; go-karting; horse treks; and even tours through a gold mining town! And there are Maori heritage attractions, vineyard visits, golf courses and more for Mom and Dad.
If you’d like to enjoy this area of the South Island without death-defying adventure, Lake Wakatipu is beautiful and a great setting for a day trip. Take the TSS Earnslaw, a 1912 steamer that takes you across the lake to Walter Peak High Country Farm. Have lunch at the Colonel’s Homestead, take a walking tour of the farm, feed the animals, and enjoy breathtaking views.
Obviously, the glaciers provide plenty of opportunities for hiking, camping and other outdoor pursuits. Discover the pure blue ice on a hike; walk around Lake Matheson’s coastline; climb Mount Cook and Mount Tasman; skydive at Fox Glacier; cycle through the Southern Alps; or try white-water heli-rafting in Glacier Country.
But after all that physical exertion, you can take a load of at the glacier hot pools. The public pools are fully equipped with changing and bathing facilities; private pools are a level above, with private quarters and massage services, and also provide free access to the public pools after your time is up. They’re open all year around until late, so you can enjoy a good soak under the stars.
The Canterbury Region is so rich in history and experiences, you could easily spend your entire vacation here and still not see and do everything. First there is Christchurch, which has rallied admirably from their devastating earthquake in 2011, and welcomes visitors with open arms. Go punting on the Avon River. Marvel at the works at the Christchurch Art Gallery – and take some time to check out its stunning exterior as well. Stroll through the Botanic Gardens. Cycle through Bottle Lake Forest. See the views from the Christchurch Gondola.
Skiers are well acquainted with Mount Hutt, especially those who want to get their ski on during the Northern Hemisphere’s summer months. And expert skiers get their street cred while taking “The Towers” runs.
And finally, there are dozens of wineries in Waipara, Omihi Hills, and the Banks Peninsula. White wines are the main product, with Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, and Gewürztraminer leading the pack. The views are unbeatable, the vibe is laid back and friendly, and there is plenty of focus on the locally sourced, delicious foods that go with these popular wines. There are tours that specialize in taking visitors to local vineyards, or you can rent a car and design your own boozy itinerary. Just don’t drink and drive!
If you can tear yourself away from the wineries, try to spend some extra time on the Banks Peninsula. Foodies will love the restaurants (and daylong classes at the Akaroa Cooking School!); history buffs, architecture fans and those who like a good stroll will want to explore the adorable streets of Akaroa; don’t miss the Takamatua Valley Lavender Farm; walk the Banks Peninsula Track over a weekend; visit penguins at Flea Bay; or simply leave your cares behind as you spend lazy days at on Eastern Bay beaches.