8 Exciting South Island Experiences For An Unbeatable Summer Weekend

Megan Zara Walsh Megan Zara Walsh - Staff Writer

South Island Things To Do

Christchurch is a fantastic city, but for those of us who see it endlessly, we crave something new and exciting. Wonderfully, the South Island offers some iconic experiences, especially on a boring summer weekend. Taking advantage of one of these adventures could be the pick-me-up you need this month. From bathing in natural hot pools to indulging in the finest New Zealand cuisine, we’ve found something for everyone to enjoy. Here are eight exciting South Island experiences to add to your summer list.

1. Marlborough Sounds

New Zealand Winter
Photo Credit: Unsplash

Get up at the crack of dawn, drive over five hours and head to this mostly blue-skied and calm weather region for some summer fun. Indeed, it’s the closest thing you’ll get to a Thailand adventure. With plenty of secluded bays, island hopping fun, cycle opportunities like Queen Charlotte Track and Ship Cove, native wildlife sightings, historic sites, and much more…you won’t get bored. Splash some extra cash and experience the Sounds by sea on a sailing boat. We recommend staying overnight for the greatest experience.

2. Larnach Castle, Dunedin

Best South Island Plans
Photo Credit: Larnach Castle

Head to Dunedin for a weekend adventure to explore New Zealand’s only castle. It was built in 1871 by William Larnach. Stepped in history and culture, with spectacular views of Otago Peninsula and carefully-preserved award-winning gardens, it is a must-see for travellers. For the most unique experience, opt to indulge in a high tea or stay in luxury accommodation on the castle grounds. For more information, visit the Lanarch Castle website.

📍 145 Camp Road, Larnachs Castle, Dunedin 9077, New Zealand

3. Queenstown

Trek the well-worth-it five hours and 50 minutes drive to this epic town that offers a jam-packed itinerary for adventurists. Expect to find plenty of outdoor adventures like whitewater rafting, wine tasting excursions, skiing and snowboarding, hikes…the list is endless. You must take the authentic and vintage steamship TSS Earnslaw cruise, which launched the same year as the Titanic. Many famous faces have come abroad the ship including Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip. Certainly, one of the most memorable South Island experiences this summer.

4. Lake Tekapo

One of our favourite day trips just three hours drive from Christchurch. Additionally, it makes an epic weekend getaway. Here, experience magical stargazing and watch the Southern Lights, to name a few. Visit the Tekapo Tourism website for more information.

5. Hokitika Gorge

Just three hours and 4o minutes away, experience this hidden paradise land that exhibits the bluest turquoise water you will probably ever see. Surrounded by a native bush, explore the rare hidden spaces along the river, hike the trail and watch out for exotic birds, just to name a few activities. Make it an overnight adventure by staying in the town of Hokitika, which is rich in history and culture, from ship wrecks to gold mines to a stunning coastline…there is much to appreciate.


📍 Kokatahi, New Zealand

6. Unusual Staycations

Check out our list of unique and bizarre South Island accommodations which offers the perfect new summer experience.

7. Hot Pools

Kiwi’s just adore their volcanic thermal hot pools. So why not take advantage of Kiwi culture and unwind after a long week in one of the greatest North Island hot pools. For example, you could head to Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spas, just one hour and 30 minutes from Christchurch. Indeed, the greatest summer pick-me-up you can get.

📍 Various Locations 

READ MORE: 7 Ways To Have An Epic Summer Weekend In Hanmer Springs

8. Arethusa Pool

As one of the most magical secret places in New Zealand, this surreal lake can be found on the Lake Wanaka island of Mou Waho. Opt to camp there or take a day tour, and hike to experience the wonders of this famous glacially formed lake. When you reach the viewpoint, it overlooks the enchanting pool, and landscape, which makes an epic instagrammable shot for your feed.

📍 Mou Waho Island, Lake Wanaka, Otago, New Zealand 

Enjoying Secret Christchurch? Check out The Best Things To Do This Month In Christchurch.

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