New Zealand’s South Island has dramatic landscapes that conjure up all sorts of fantastical worlds and is also the birthplace of extreme adventure sports.
You can go bungee jumping, jet-boating, white water rafting - if there’s adrenalin involved. Let's take a wild guess and say there was probably a Kiwi behind it.
A great way to experience a great sampling of South Island adventures is on road trip with Haka Tours, an award-winning budget tour company that knows all about the best adventures to be had.
Here’s a Top 10 with Haka Tours, to be discovered on their South Island Lick Tour.
1. Jump off of something in Queenstown
Literally. Pick your free-falling adventure – bungy, sky diving, you name it, Queenstown is the heart of adrenalin in New Zealand, the perfect place to get your heart racing.
Set against the dramatic Remarkables mountain range, it’s renowned for its adventure sports and is home to the Nevis Bungy at 134m and the AJ Hackett Bungy at 43m.
2. Get rugged up in an Ice Bar in Queenstown
A very cool way to start a night in Queenstown, there are Ice Bars dotted all around willing to offer you a unique experience.
While wandering the streets it’s worth taking a step inside for a cocktail (or mocktail!) while rugged up in the supplied Eskimo gear – whether just for a look or for the start of a night out.
Surrounded by handmade ice carvings, you can finish off your drink served in an ice glass and then hit a 2-pointer against the basketball style bin – well, you can’t exactly recycle the glasses!
3. Fly over Milford Sound
One of New Zealand’s most renown landscapes, Milford Sound is a fiord in the South West region of the South Island, within Fiordland National Park.
A world heritage site, it remains one of NZ’s most visited tourist spots despite its remote location. Expect to spot seals, bottlenose dolphins, whales, even penguins.
Described by Rudyard Kipling as the ‘eighth wonder of the world’ it’s a must-see destination.
With Haka Tours there are two different Milford Sound Trips available, a day trip with Jucy or a half-day flight with Air Milford.
he day trip drives you out to the Sound for a scenic cruise including lunch – and Air Milford flies you alongside the mountain ranges to the beautiful Sound. From here you’re transferred to a cruise for lunch before flying back to Queenstown.
4. See a Kiwi or a prehistoric Tuatara
This adorable flightless bird is of course a national icon. Sadly, these nocturnal creatures are endangered, with only about 20% of the Kiwi population under management.
While on the Haka Tours South Island Lick tour, you are given several opportunities to use your free time to seek out one of these birds.
In Queenstown there is the Kiwi Bird Sanctuary, that is also home to Tuatara and other curious creatures like the Kea and the very large New Zealand Pigeon.
Whilst in Franz Josef, there is the West Coast Wildlife Centre, that is purely dedicated to managing the population of New Zealand’s rarest Kiwi.
5. Get a shot of That Wanaka Tree
If you haven’t heard of That Wanaka Tree, take a look on Instagram now.
This odd little tree has become a famous photo spot for photographers worldwide, purely due to it’s beauty and odd placing in the middle of the water.
6. Wake yourself up with a kayak through a Kiwi Sanctuary in Franz Josef
Get up close to the dramatic Southern Alps of Franz Josef on a guided kayaking tour through the protected wetlands of Lake Mapourika.
Equipped with quality kayaking gear, free photos, transportation and informative guides, it’s the perfect way to start the day - and with a morning tour, you are left with plenty of the day to continue exploring.
No matter the weather you are able to paddle through the glassy lake and experience the silence of nature as you glide through the nearby creeks.
While you’re here, have a soak in the Glacier Hot Pools. Protected from the rain with giant sails, you can visit in any weather. There are three temperatures to choose from: 36, 38, 40 degrees Celcius.
7. Learn a bit about Christchurch’s 2011 Earthquakes
The South Island adventure begins in Christchurch, at the picturesque Sumner Beach, and making its way into the city where you’re able to learn all about the towns history.
In 2011, Christchurch was struck with an Earthquake – and the 185 Empty Chairs memorial is the best place to take a moment to soak in its moving message.
Each chair from every soul lost, it was intended as a temporary installation, but is so loved by the locals that Christchurch is hoping to keep it.
8. Get in amongst the lupins at Lake Tekapo
A small town located inland of the South Island, Lake Tekapo is recognised for its beauty worldwide.
The lake has a beautiful turquoise blue colour that is created from the rock flour from surrounded glaciers.
Surrounding the lake is the colourful blooming lupins and the Church of the Good Shepherd that is a popular spot for astro-photography as the area is a Dark Sky Reserve.
With Haka Tours, you are given multiple opportunities to visit the lake, and are able to end the evening in the relaxing Hot Springs and Sauna that look over the mountains.
9. Relax on the TranzAlpine Railway
A passenger train operated on the South Island, the TranzAlpine Midland line is often regarded as one of the most scenic railway journeys in the world.
The train has large windows offering panoramic views, and a few open air carts for those warmer days. Running daily, the TranzAlpine runs through the Canterbury Plains, Arthur’s Pass, over deep gorges and pass wild ice-fed rivers.
10. Make your own travel video with Tikipici
When you’ve finished your South Island adventures, take all your pics and video to video editing company Tikipici, who’ll mash it all together for you so you can take home your own professional travel documentary.
All you need to do is download your pics onto a USB stick, and leave it at your last Haka Lodge or upload it to Google Drive.
Haka Tours run a wide range of South Island tours – everything from ski and snowboarding holidays to mountain biking go to www.hakatours.com to find out more.