Discover the South Island of New Zealand
The West Coast is celebrated for its pristine wilderness and adventure opportunities.
Start your South Island discovery on the atoll’s northern tip, in the creative hub of Nelson. Bound by long golden beaches, untouched forests and imposing mountains, and invigorated by brilliant sunshine, Nelson is a magnet for artisans. Visit the city’s vibrant studio spaces, and pick up unique traditional, contemporary and Maori works.
Leaving Nelson, take Kaikoura Coastal Route east and meander the 500-plus kilometres to Christchurch. Passing mountainous peaks, wild beaches, fruitful wine regions, and indulgent spa country, the route provides the perfect setting for an unforgettable road trip. Taste world-acclaimed Sauvignon Blancs in the Marlborough region. Witness seals, dolphins and whales play against a backdrop of the Southern Alps at Kaikoura. Unwind in the thermal pools of Hanmer Springs. Enjoy lunch amid the rolling hills of the Waipara Valley.
Situated on the edge of the Canterbury Plains and fringed by the Pacific Ocean, Christchurch is a vibrant and dynamic city, brimming with unique and innovative drawcards. Enjoy a drop from local wineries, fresh local produce and diverse cultural experiences that Christchurch is famous for, while marveling at the city’s breathtaking natural surrounds and award-winning gardens.
Dissecting the Island to the West Coast, the road climbs to more than 900 metres through Arthur's Pass National Park—the highest and most spectacular pass in the Southern Alps. Bridging a landscape of two halves – with shingle-filled riverbeds and vast swathes of beech forest to the east, and dense rainforest alongside deeply gorged rivers to the west – Arthur's Pass is an extreme engineering feat that must be experienced to be believed. Take in the park’s scenic views from aboard the renowned Tranz Alpine rail service.
The West Coast is celebrated for its pristine wilderness and adventure opportunities. Discover Oparara Basin’s breathtaking limestone formations, arches and land bridges. Explore Punakaiki’s mesmerising pancake rocks and blowholes. Experience a bird’s-eye view of ancient Rimu and Kamahi tree canopies on the West Coast Tree Top Walk. Explore the awe-inspiring glaciers of Westland Tai Poutini National Park.
Moving south, the Otago region is home to two of New Zealand’s most dynamic cities; thriller-seekers’ paradise, Queenstown and historical hub, Dunedin.
Resonating an electrifying alpine energy, Queenstown is regarded as the adventure ‘capital of the world.’ Traverse the famous Dart River and World Heritage Listed area, Mount Aspiring National Park, on an exhilarating jet boat or canoe adventure; or hit some of the best slopes in the Southern Hemisphere—six different ski fields, with varying landscapes, are located within easy driving distance from the city.
On the east coast, Dunedin is bound by an exquisite harbour, and sees unique natural habitats juxtaposed against historic buildings. Explore a raw coastline dotted with colonies of rare animals, such as seals, yellow-eyed penguins and royal albatrosses. Or marvel at magnificent Edwardian and Victorian buildings, which throw back the city's proud Scottish history.
Plan Your New Zealand South Island Getaway
- Flights to the New Zealand: Virgin Australia operates flights to Christchurch and Queenstown from Australian capital cities.
- New Zealand Holiday Packages: Plan your South Island escape with expert help. Virgin Australia Holidays offers exceptional Queenstown holiday packages, Christchurch holiday packages and Dunedin holiday packages. Packages include flights, accommodation and a great variety of extras.
- New Zealand Car Hire: Uncover New Zealand’s most remote and beautiful locales. Go off the beaten track with great deals on hire cars.
- New Zealand Tours and Activities: Bungy jump, zip line, cruise scenic bays, dine with a view or tour a wine district, our partner, GoDo has a number of exceptional New Zealand tours and activities on offer.