Adventure Is Around Every Corner on New Zealand’s South Island

Self proclaimed as the adrenalin capital of the world. New Zealand’s South Island is a place for jumping two footed outside your comfort zone. Are you ready?

New Zealand’s South Island grabs you from the sky, a series of fjords twinkling beneath the wingtips as you land in Queenstown. As the plane descends between shimmering mountains you can already smell the adventure.

Self proclaimed as the adrenalin capital of the world, Queenstown is the base for adventures that raise the heartbeat.

This isn’t an island just for beach bliss and relaxing. New Zealand’s South Island is a place for jumping two footed outside your comfort zone. And it’s very very different to New Zealand’s North Island.

Unique Landscapes Set the Scene on New Zealand’s South Island

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Photo: Rob Suisted

Cast adrift in the South Pacific, New Zealand mainly consists of two islands: North and South.

The North is volcanic, full of weird green hills, mystical forests, and strange flightless birds. It looks otherworldly. That’s not just our opinion. The North Island is where you can find Hobbiton and many filming locations from the Lord of the Rings. New Zealand’s South Island is rough and rugged, crammed with precipitous mountains and fjords that extend far beyond the horizon.

The whole western coast is national park, a place of forests tumbling into the ocean and snow-capped peaks rising like sentinels above the landscape. While the North Island emanates the sublime and the surreal, land in the South Island and you’re immediately struck by the landscape’s eternal drama.

Land in Queenstown to Start the Adventure

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Photo: AJHackettBungy, Kawarau-Bridge

Walk through Queenstown and a dozen people will ask you when you’re going to bungee jump. They don’t ask if you’re going to jump. Queenstown deserves its status as adrenalin capital. This is where the world’s first ever commercial bungee is found, a towering bridge jump that has a seriously elevated coolness factor.

If you’re going to jump anywhere, then it might as well be where the sport was invented. And it’s this attitude of why not that pervades through the whole town. After you’ve chosen which day to bungee, the next question is which bungee.

There’s five to choose from, another indication of how New Zealand’s South Island is adventure mad.

Other Crazy Adventures on New Zealand’s South Island

Beautifully situated on a pristine blue lake, Queenstown is the perfect starting point for any South Island trip. Walk down the central street and the offers keep coming. There’s adventure all over New Zealand’s South Island and this town is the best place to book it all, especially if you’re traveling independently.

Jet boating was also invented here. A boat accelerates through narrow canyons, skidding off the shallow water and turning 360º between towering rocks. It’s like a theme park ride on steroids.

Book your jet boat ride ahead of your trip with New Zealand Viator. 

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Choose to skydive out of a plane or abseil off some towering cliffs. From May to September, New Zealand’s South Island offers some insane heliskiing, miles of virgin powder open to the brave. You could also take the ski lift and tackle the island’s standard slopes, but that wouldn’t be in keeping with the atmosphere.

A Unique Opportunity to Climb on Glaciers

Head west from Queenstown and the coast is completely dominated by fjords, spectacular sheets of water that cascade into the South Tasman Sea. Each is flanked by towering mountains, the rings of white reflecting in the fjords as you start to explore. There’s pretty much only one road, so most of the adventure is by boat or on foot.

Fjordland National Park is the most scenic, home to Milford Sound and the most dramatic panoramas. Just to the north, Mount Aspiring National Park is a utopia for adventurous hikers, as well as the place to try canyoning or kayaking.

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Photo: nztravelorganiser 

Mount Aspiring merges into Westland Tai Poutini National Park and two of the world’s most accessible glaciers. Both are iconically surrounded by rainforest, so strap on the crampons and start walking, a guide taking you onto the face of Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier.

Walk through ice tunnels, climb up the glacier face, and get lost in this unique white wonderland. Book now! 

You’ll Like This Island If You’re Looking for…

Yet for all the adrenalin and adventure, New Zealand’s South Island isn’t just about jumping off a bridge and climbing up a glacier.

Of course, you’ll love this island if you have an adventurous spirit or a mischievous inkling towards raising the adrenalin levels. But the staggering natural backdrops mean New Zealand’s South Island also has more sedate adventures.

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Photo Credit: • Purakaunui Falls, New Zealand

You’ll love this island if you’re into hiking trails, getting immersed in nature, and spending the day slowly paddling across a lake. So don’t be put off by the adrenalin capital of the world tag. On this island, you can always have an adventure at your own pace.

The hardest part about traveling to New Zealand is deciding which activities to do. See even more New Zealand activities and start dreaming.

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Got any of your own travel tips on New Zealand’s South Island? Comment Below And Let The Adventures Begin!

Written By: Stephen Bailey, Traveling Islanders Contributor