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New Zealand's South Island Destination Guide

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Your guide from the Luxury Travel Experts

Welcome to the Elegant Resorts Destination Guide for New Zealand's South Island , created to help make your choice of luxury holiday as easy as possible. Here, you will find more detailed factual information about the destination you have selected.

If you require further information, not featured on this page, please call one of our Travel Consultants.


South Island has a more rural and remote feel and is famed for its natural beauty, which comprises sweeping mountain ranges, isolated farming communities, rugged coastline, wild rivers, lush forests, magical fiordland and an array of wildlife. However, Christchurch, known for its gracious parks and English character, offers city sight-seeing opportunities. Tai Tapu, near Christchurch, is a good base from which to discover the picturesque seaside town of Akaroa, which is about an hour’s drive away, where you can enjoy forest and hillside walks.

The South Island in particular, is where the ocean delivers an astonishing amount of wildlife, and Kaikoura, north of Christchurch, is a popular place for whale-watching. Animal enthusiasts may also stumble across sea lions playing on the Otago Peninsula in the south east and search for the rare Yellow-eyed Penguin, while on the opposite coast, Bottlenose Dolphins glide through the wildly remote Doubtful Sound, seal pups play amidst the breathtaking beauty of Milford Sound and Little Blue Penguins come in from a day’s fishing at Stewart Island.

As ‘Lord of the Rings’ illustrated (as parts of the films were set in various locations in New Zealand), the country’s natural appeal isn’t just confined to the coast. From sea level the land climbs an impressive 3,755 metres to its crowning glory – Mount Cook. On a clear day, visitors can marvel at views of its snowy peak, photograph mirror images in Lake Matheson and take scenic flights over this part of the southern alps. Other mountainous regions include Glenorchy which is set on the edge of the Dart River and is dwarfed by the most extraordinary and beautiful alpine scenery. Take a trip from here or from Queenstown, to the stunning Milford Sound in the Fiordland National Park.

The area around sophisticated Queenstown, which is set on the shores of Lake Wakatipu and was at the heart of a gold rush in the 1860s, boasts opportunities to enjoy adventure activities including eco tours, boat trips, bungee jumping, jet-boating and more. Further north of Queenstown is Lake Wanaka which is the perfect setting for tranquil outdoor pursuits including walking, fishing and cycling. South Island is also home to the stunning Marlborough wine region which is famous for its Sauvignon Blanc, where the town of Blenheim makes an ideal place from which to explore some of the region’s excellent wineries, as well as the area’s restaurants, bars, shops, artisan food outlets and golf courses. Nelson also offers easy access into the wine region, as well as the stunning Abel Tasman which has some stunning beaches.

General Information
Time Difference8 hours
CurrencyNew Zealand Dollar


Health facilities, hygiene and disease risks vary worldwide and you should take health advice about your specific needs as early as possible. We highly recommend that you seek specialist advice from your Doctor and, where recommended, obtain vaccinations or tablets for protection against, for example: Malaria, Hepatitis A, Polio and Typhoid. In some cases, treatments for Malaria should begin well in advance of travel. Travellers may also be required to show Yellow Fever Certificates on arrival in certain destinations ie, some African countries. Please note that you are strongly advised against scuba-diving for 24 hours before travelling by air. We would also like to draw your attention to the risk of DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) and recommend that you consult with your doctor before travelling.


Visa and Advance Passenger Information

All passengers must ensure they have valid, acceptable passport, any required visa and any other documentation for both the final destination and any stop-off points en route. Please make sure that Advance Passenger Information is submitted in advance to travel for all destinations. Failure to hold correct documentation or submitting incorrect details with Advance Passenger Information or Visa applications may result in refusal of carriage or entry into a country. Please check with the relevant Embassy regarding visa requirements well in advance of your travel date. Charges may apply for some visas.

Travelling With Children or Without an Adult

Children travelling without both parents should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country (for example, South Africa) or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country. Please contact the relevant Embassy for the county you are travelling to for further information.


Christchurch & Tai Tapu
• Stroll along the Tai Tapu river bank, go biking, fish or take a guided hike into the Southern Alps, through parts of Arthur's Pass National Park with its stunning waterfalls, forests and streams.
• Drive to the pretty seaside town of Akaroa with a lovely harbour and the opportunity to swim with dolphins.

• Visit some of the open art studios, galleries and shops.
• Visit Takaka and see New Zealand’s largest freshwater springs.
• Explore the estuaries, golden beaches, native forests and granite outcrops along the Abel Tasman National Park by foot, water taxi or sea kayak, and look out for penguins and seals.
• Visit Mount Arthur.
• Take a vineyard tour.

• The area is a haven for lovers of the great outdoors, who can enjoy superb fishing, walking, climbing and kayaking on the Dart River.
• Hike to nearby Routeburn National Park.
• If you’re a skier and plan to visit between July and September, why not enjoy a heli-skiing trip to experience skiing through some of the world’s best powder snow?

• Take a trip to the stunning Milford Sound in the Fiordland National Park.

Lake Wanaka
• A walker’s paradise, there are plenty of hiking trails to enjoy, including gentle walks around Lake Wanaka and more vigorous treks in the surrounding mountains.
• Why not hire a mountain bike and explore the stunning scenery and peaceful setting.
• Enjoy leisurely water-based activities, including trout fishing or kayaking.

Getting There+

Flight Information
Via Melbourne or Sydney with Emirates or Qantas from Dubai to Christchurch.
Via Melbourne with Etihad Airways from Abu Dhabi to Christchurch.

Flight Time
From Dubai to Christchurch: 18 hours, 35 minutes.

Travel Gems+

Travel Planning
Our Travel Consultants can advise on, arrange and pre-book many things to enhance your holiday. This includes everything from spa reservations and dinner reservations, to a range of special experiences available in our featured resorts that you may not know about.

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