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South Island: Discover the South"


By Concrete Playground
September 19, 2018
By Concrete Playground
September 19, 2018

Take this journey through the South Island boasting snow-covered mountains, rare native wildlife, raging rivers and scenic walking tracks.

Driving from Christchurch through Dunedin and Central Otago to Queenstown offers quite the road trip. Be consumed by history and heritage experiences, food and wine opportunities and an abundance of adventures.

Every turn along the way offers more and more breathtaking landscapes you won’t want to forget and you’ll definitely want to share. Breathe in the salty air on the coast, marvel at the rock formations and thriving native wildlife and eat the freshest fish straight off the fishing boats. Head further south to see where the lakes, rivers and mountains take over. Whether by bike, horse, hot air balloon, jetboat or foot, prepare to surrender to this glorious landscape and discover it all.

Read on to start planning and creating your own customised journey with our itinerary builder below.


Any time of year is great in this neck of the woods. Autumn, which runs March through to May, is particularly sensational. The changing leaves see the landscape turn rich gold and red hues and the warm days are perfect for exploring. But every season has its charms and brings unique vistas, different seasonal produce and new activities to enjoy. You can’t go wrong.


Christchurch is the gateway to the South Island and a charming experience in itself. There are 13 daily non-stop flights to Christchurch from Australia’s main airports. After taking time to explore the city, set out on your adventure south towards the Otago region stopping at Oamaru and Dunedin before heading inland toward Queenstown.


Allow $100–$150 a day for petrol, worthy entertainment and cheap and cheerful eats, and if you tend to enjoy the finer things in life, give yourself upwards of $250 a day to take some bigger adventures, find some luxe ways to relax and eat some truly sensational food.


Historic gold-mining settlement Arrowtown. A short drive from Queenstown, this teensy town is well worth the trip. Have a coffee at authentic little French cafe Bonjour, or go for a long lunch at the hidden Chop Shop Food Merchants. These people make seriously good food — like the bang bang chicken salad. Sit up at the bar and watch the magic in the kitchen happen.

Plan Your Journey Through the South Island

Track down the must-visit local haunts.

Discover The South

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Discover The South

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    Venture Through the South Island

    Do as the locals do.

    The Food

    From freshly baked cookies to a fancy cellar door degustation, here's how to eat your way around the south.

    1. Fleur's Place

    Dig into fresh, local seafood — or local specialty muttonbird — at this rustic restaurant on the waterfront at the Old Jetty in Moeraki.

    2. Stratosfare Restaurant

    Jump on the gondola and ride up to Queenstown’s Skyline for a dinner above the clouds with panoramic views. Go before sunset and stay to see the stars.

    3. Cookie Time

    Found in Templeton, a kilometre out of Christchurch, this cookie haven the perfect place to call in for some chocolate chunk for your journey south

    4. Riverstone Kitchen

    Book in advance to secure a spot at this award-winning restaurant set in a paddock on a family farm 19 kilometres out of Oamaru.

    5. Amisfield Bistro & Cellar Door

    Order one of the three ‘trust the chef’ menus at this cellar door and restaurant whose kitchen team works with a forager to offer the freshest, most local ingredients.

    The Drink

    From winery trails to floating bars — whatever tipple tickles your fancy, we've got you covered.

    1. Queenstown Wine Trail

    Sip your way along the Gibbston Valley or the ‘Valley of the Vines’ wine region, featuring over 15 wineries between Queenstown and Cromwell.

    2. Below Zero

    It’s all too fitting for an alpine town like Queenstown to have a bar made of ice (let alone two — the second being Minus 5).

    3. Perky's Floating Bar

    Board this boat bar on Lake Wakatipu in the late afternoon for beers, lake views and, eventually, a glittering sunset over the water.

    4. The World Bar

    Head to this bar for the music and famed teapot cocktails. Order a teapot of Pesty’s Moonshine or Caught in the Rain and enjoy the tunes.

    5. Smiths Craft Beer House

    This industrial chic bar serves craft beer, burgers, pizzas and Louisiana po’ boys. Not sure what to order? The bar staff will offer expert suggestions according to your taste.

    The Adventures

    With bungee jumping and a human catapult, get your heart rate up and adrenaline pumping on the South Island.

    1. AJ Hackett Bungy

    Visit the home of bungy jumping and jump off the Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge — the first commercial bungy jumping site.

    2. Kawarau Zipride

    Zip along the Kawarau River at up to 60 kilometres per hour solo, with your special someone or with the whole group.

    3. Nevis Human Catapult

    As if jumping into the abyss on a bungy cord wasn’t enough, those crazy cats in Queenstown have a new extreme experience to really get your heart going.

    4. Go Orange Queenstown Rafting

    The fast and furious Shotover River, with its rapids and canyons, provides the perfect whitewater rafting experience for thrillseekers.

    5. Otago Central Rail Trail

    Pedal your way through the South Island's culture and history.

    The Escapes

    Stretch it out at hot yoga, watch the sunset from your lakeside room and catch some quality R&R on your journeys.

    1. Spring Spa

    Described as a ‘social spa’, this spa welcomes groups to come enjoy a wide range of treatments for the face, body and nails together.

    2. The Sherwood

    Eat beautiful food grown in the kitchen garden, join a daily yoga class and partake in a jewellery workshop all at this stunning hillside retreat.

    3. EcoScapes Retreat

    Nestle into one of these eco-friendly escapes providing luxe, romantic lakefront accommodation across the lake from Glenorchy.

    4. Queenstown Gardens

    Find an oasis of calm in the middle of the buzz as you step inside this park where you’re met by an orchestra of bird song and an eyeful of gorgeous green.

    5. Studio Sangha

    Warm your body and soul at this yoga studio offering traditional Bikram, hot and dynamic Hatha, power vinyasa and yin yoga classes.

    The Outdoors

    Head back into nature with a scenic hike or trip to see the mysterious Moeraki boulders.

    1. Sunrise Balloons

    Drift over Queenstown, 'Hobbit' locations, the Southern Alps, Lake Wakatipu and The Remarkables from 6000-feet up on this hot air balloon tour.

    2. Moeraki Boulders

    Make tracks to Koekohe Beach in Otago to explore the mysterious, perfectly round yet all natural boulders formed millions of years ago out of hardened sea sediment.

    3. Skyline Stargazing

    Take a gondola up high above Queenstown to gaze upon unpolluted night sky. Look out for planets, the Milky Way, nebula, other galaxies and the Southern Cross.

    4. Buzzstop

    Check out the observation hive, work alongside a beekeeper and shop the various honeyed wares at this spot that’s all about bees and their honey.

    5. Queenstown Hill Time Walk

    Catch the sunrise over Queenstown on this 1.5-kilometre climb up to the summit. Once the sun’s up, take in the vistas of the surrounding lake, mountains and river.

    The Culture

    There’s a steampunk museum and a boutique cinema. Get your a culture fix with these five activities.

    1. Steampunk HQ

    In 2010, Oamaru went from low-key farming town to steampunk capital. Get the lowdown in the heart of it all at the steampunk museum in the Victorian quarter of town.

    2. The Lord of the Rings Tour

    Get inside the beloved movies and walk the paths, marvel at the rugged mountains and wonder if that was Gollum staring out at you from behind a rock.

    3. Central Otago Arts Trail

    Drive around Central’s backroads to visit the small towns where a number of amazing artisans live and produce painting, sculpture, patchwork, carving and jewellery.

    4. Dorothy Browns Cinema

    Catch a flick at this bar, cinema and bookshop in Arrowtown. The boutique cinema shows a range of contemporary and art house.

    5. Arrowtown

    Take a day to visit this historic gold mining village and wander its main street of shops, offices and cafes.

    Venture Through the South Island

    Do as the locals do.

    South Island Journeys
    Discover the South
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