Once the snow melts from the towering mountains, making way for the warmer months, a rolling display of golden ranges appear and add a whole new dimension to the stunning natural skyline that frames New Zealand’s South Island.
The thrills, romance and natural beauty of New Zealand’s South Island are still well and truly alive during the warmer months, so they’re the perfect time to head outdoors and discover everything that makes this part of the world so magical.
As you fly into Queenstown Airport over The Remarkables mountain range, reminiscent of scenes from The Lord of the Rings, you’ll get your first taste of the South Island’s majestic beauty.
By day, Queenstown is a hub of sophisticated retail. At night, it transforms into a nocturnal hive of activity, where partygoers can sip cocktails at cosmopolitan bars or sample some of New Zealand’s finest cuisine in restaurants that pride themselves on showcasing fresh produce.
Outdoor shopping and dining experiences at the Queenstown Mall and Queenstown Wharf are popular pastimes here, and summer will offer you warmer days to explore well-known brands, boutique stores and discount shopping. Stop at one of the many pubs or cafes for a bite to eat and a local Speights beer to recharge your batteries.
It’s pretty well-known that New Zealand is home to some of the most extreme activities in the world; adventure lovers will feel right at home in Queenstown, with a range of heart-pumping options like bungee jumping, sky diving and white water rafting.
For a more family-friendly alternative, head to Skyline Queenstown, a five-minute walk from the town centre, where guests can take a leisurely ride in a gondola up Bob’s Peak or pick up the pace on the Luge. This is also the ideal spot to head off on a mountain bike ride along one of the area’s many trails, which cater to both beginners and advanced riders.
The one-and-a-half-hour-drive from Queenstown to Wanaka will leave breathless as you traverse alpine valleys surrounded by powder-girt mountains and snow-fed rivers.
The centrepiece of this alpine town is the sparkling Lake Wanaka, framed against the dramatic silhouettes of the Southern Alps. Lake Wanaka is a year-round attraction, but summer is when the real fun begins! Boating enthusiasts can take to the lake and discover its hidden coves and secluded islands. Pick up the pace at the nearby Klutha River, where jetboats glide you through crystalline waters, skimming past rocks and powering through rapids.
For those who prefer to do their exploring on dry land, there is a plethora of walking tracks in the nearby Mt. Aspiring National Park.
Hike through the rugged wilderness, and discover beautiful scenery and fascinating wildlife at your own pace.
Kick back with the locals after an action-packed day at one of the many cafes, restaurants or bars in the vibrant town centre. The local food and wine producers are showcased in a variety of establishments from relaxed café fare to fine dining, and include succulent Cardrona merino lamb, and the delicious flavours of Rippon Valley wines.
Carved by glaciers during the ice ages, the prehistoric scenery of Milford Sound will take your breath away with its dramatic fiords, sheer cliff faces and cascading waterfalls.
With some of the best tramping in the country, you can explore at your own pace and discover the immense beauty of New Zealand’s natural world. There are also many other ways to explore Milford Sound, and, whether you catch a scenic flight, paddle on a kayak or take a cruise, you’ll be inspired by its sheer aestheticism.
Milford Track is one of the South Island’s most popular walking tracks for both locals and visitors. Stretching for 53.5 kilometres, it begins at the northern end of Lake Te Anau, and winds its way through the wilderness and ending with a boat trip to the Milford Sound Wharf. One of the many spectacular sights along Milford Track is Sutherland Falls (the tallest waterfall in New Zealand), which cascades 580 metres down the rugged cliff face.
There are serviced huts to stay at along the way, but you’ll need to contact the New Zealand Department of Conservation to make a booking before your walk.
Routeburn Track is another popular tramping spot in Fiordland National Park, and has recently been listed as one of the 10 Best Treks in the World by Lonely Planet. It is a 32-kilometre track that takes two to four days to complete, weaving through beech-forested valleys and past clear rivers and alpine lakes.
Where to Stay
Located at the foothills of Mt Aspiring National Park, the resort features a mix of hotel rooms, apartments and presidential suites. There is a casual café with al fresco dining and a heated swimming pool and spa.
109 Mt Aspiring Road, Lake Wanaka
+64 3 443 0025
Where to Eat
Speight’s Ale House
These popular boutique ale houses, inspired by the beer that was first created in the Otego Region, serve up a range of delicious beers and ciders as well as hearty dishes.
Cnr Stanley and Ballarat Street, Queenstown
93 Ardmore Street, Wanaka
03 443 5459
Located lakefront, Relishes is an iconic restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, locally roasted coffee and a large selection of New Zealand wines.
99 Ardmore Street, Wanaka
03 443 9018
This quirky, extremely popular gourmet burger joint serves up some of the most decadent burgers in all of New Zealand.
42 Shotover Street, Queenstown
03 441 1232
Did you know that New Zealand and Australia have some differences when it comes to the English language?
Here are a few useful translations to get you prepared before your trip.
Bach (pronounced “batch” ): A small holiday home.
Jandals: Flip flops/thongs.