The South Island is the real New Zealand you’ve come to see. Full of awe-inspiring natural beauty, world-class attractions and a variety of activities, a journey through the South Island offers a little bit of magic, a splash of adventure, tons of unique activities and plenty of learning opportunities for the whole family to enjoy. Here are our favourite must-do attractions here.
An absolute must-do when in Christchurch, the International Antarctic Centre takes you on an incredible journey to modern day Antarctica where you can experience the natural wonders of this fascinating far flung continent. Take in interactive exhibits like the Antarctic Gallery and the Storm Dome – an indoor storm room that simulates the gruelling temps and conditions you could face in Antarctica. Or visit the penguin sanctuary for some cuteness overload with the adorable kororā – New Zealand’s little blue penguin. Open daily, 365 days a year, the International Antarctic Centre is guaranteed an absolute blast for families.
One of the top experiences in Akaroa, Shamarra Alpaca farm tours is a visit to one of the happiest places on earth. This scenic alpaca farm tour takes you to the top of the stunning Banks Peninsula with million dollar views of the Akaroa harbour, rolling hills and seaside valleys. Alpaca superstars Nutella, Rising Sun and Equador as well as their 160 strong herd call this beautiful place home. Your family friendly farm tour includes a chance to feed the alpacas in their natural habitat, plenty of photo opportunities and a visit to the on-site shop for alpaca knitwear and souvenirs.
Every bit as enchanting as it sounds, a visit to the Dark Sky Project in Lake Tekapo is always a hit with the kids. As leaders in astro-tourism and stargazing experiences, the Dark Sky Project is located in Takapō (Tekapo) in the heart of Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve and is home to one of the busiest night skies in the universe. With daytime or evening tours available both indoors and outdoors, there is a mix of captivating out of this world experiences that will inspire you and your family with a newfound respect and admiration for the beautiful skies above.
Get ready to be swept away by the magic of Larnach Castle. Located on the Otago Peninsula in Dunedin, Larnach Castle is New Zealand’s only castle and is an impressive example of Gothic Revival architecture in all its 19th century glory. Larnach Castle is a fantasy filled experience for the family to explore lush sprawling gardens (recognised as a Garden of International Significance) and tour historic rooms of opulence and ultimate extravagance. Self-guided or guided tours are available as well as an audio-visual guide. There are early bird specials and families passes on offer as well as a range of accommodation on-site if staying overnight at a real life castle is on the family bucket list.
A scenic boat cruise to the iconic Milford Sound will be one of the most unforgettable, splashing experiences in the South Island. Deep in the heart of Fiordland (one of the wettest place on earth), Milford Sound is one of New Zealand’s most spectacular natural attractions. Get up close to the iconic Mitre Peak and Lady Bowen falls – Milford’s highest waterfall at 162 metres tall and the sole source of power and water for the settlement. With an abundance of marine life including fur seal colonies, penguins and dolphins, a boat cruise is a fantastic way to explore and discover the unique splendour of Milford Sound.