New Zealand's South Island Adventure of a Lifetime

There is no denying the fact that New Zealand's South Island is an incredible destination. Some visitors are content to stay in one location or resort for their entire trip, which is enjoyable because of the stunning natural scenery. To truly take advantage of all that the South Island has to offer, however, you need to visit as many destinations as possible. Guided tours are an option, but they force you to stick to a specific schedule and can get boring after a while. Instead, consider renting a car and then setting off on the adventure of a lifetime. Click here to scout out the perfect vehicle for your road trip.

Fiordland National Park: New Zealand's Most Scenic Destination

Although New Zealand is home to a seemingly unending number of scenic destinations, the Fiordland National Park is arguably the most stunning. The biggest attraction within the Fiordland National Park is Milford Sound, which is actually a breathtaking fiord surrounded by impossibly beautiful mountains. The colours and scale of the Milford Sound is something you will never forget, and you can see it up close by hiking around the perimeter or going on a cruise in the water. Other attractions and activities within the Fiordland National Park worth noting include the Homer Tunnel, Lake Manapouri, fishing for trout or hiking along the Milford Track.

Southland: The Southernmost Point in New Zealand

Just as the name implies, Southland is the southernmost region of the South Island in New Zealand. Most people visit the area specifically for a chance to visit the Fiordland National Park, but that is far from the only destination in Southland. Travellers will definitely want to stop by Invercargill, which is the southernmost city in New Zealand. It has all the amenities of a typical small city, but it also makes you feel like you are stepping back in time thanks to the relaxed way of life and the old-fashioned architecture. Other notable stops in Southland include Bluff, a coastal town known for exceptional seafood, and The Catlins, a forested hilly area with amazing scenery and even a few secluded waterfalls.

Lake Wanaka: Ideal For Outdoor Recreation

Whether you plan on visiting the South Island during the winter or the summer, you can find some fun recreation opportunities in Lake Wanaka and the surrounding area. It's just an hour from Queenstown, but it feels like a world away thanks to the spacious landscapes and the varying terrain. Some of the top things to do in Lake Wanaka include hiking in Mt. Aspiring National Park, fishing for brown or rainbow trout right in the lake and swimming in the Deep Canyon. The truly adventurous might want to try something like skydiving, heli-skiing during the winter or mountain biking around the lake.

Queenstown: Adventure and Film History

In recent years, many of the visitors to Queenstown seem to come for one of two things. They either visit in order to enjoy outdoor recreation in a stunningly beautiful destination, or they come to be a part of the Lord of the Rings experience. Large parts of the Lord of the Rings films were shot in and around Queenstown and Lake Wakapitu, which means that avid fans flock to the area to see what they recognize or to join the tours. Some of the popular pastimes for travellers are parasailing, boating, fishing, cycling and scenic flights over the lake.

Waitaki: Beaches and History

Nestled between Christchurch and Dunedin is the small town of Waitaki. The town itself is the exact point where the Waitaki River meets the sea, which should help explain the area's popularity for those who love water sports and outdoor recreation. Along with the opportunity to try things like kayaking, fishing and water-skiing, Waitaki is a historical and cultural destination. Visitors will find everything from Victorian architecture in the town centre to local wineries and even beaches where blue penguins come onshore at sunset. 

There is no better way to see the best of the South Island than with a self-guided tour by car. Although you can tweak the itinerary to suit your interests, these five destinations are a great place to start.