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Ten Natural Wonders to Visit on New Zealand’s South Island

Guest Contribution

New Zealand’s South Island is home to some of the most stunning and spectacular scenery you’ll ever witness on Mother Earth. In fact, you might lose yourself for days, even weeks just exploring the island, taking in the breathtaking landscapes, glaciers, lakes and vineyards, among other things during New Zealand South Island tours. Here are ten natural wonders you must take in while visiting New Zealand’s South Island:

1. Milford Sound

Deemed rightfully as the “eighth wonder of the world” by Rudyard Kipling, Milford Sound is a natural gem carved by glaciers and surrounded by an ancient rainforest along with beautiful mountains which have rarely been traversed by humans. 

2. Mount Cook 

Also known as Aoraki, Mount Cook happens to be the tallest mountain in the Southern Alps, running nearly 4,000 metres high. The village here is the perfect place to take a beat before venturing into the glaciers and iceberg lakes. 

3. Oamaru Penguins

Antarctica isn’t the only place you can visit to see these lovely birds in their natural habitats. Oamaru is a sanctuary for two breeds of penguins: the rare-yellow eyed ones that resemble bandits wearing yellow eye masks and the foot-tall cute little blue ones. 

4. Kaikoura Whale Watch

Kaikoura, a natural habitat for giant sperm whales, boasts a unique underwater feature which brings massive flows of nutrients to the marine life there. Just over two hours from Christchurch, the spot has become a favorite for not only whale watching, but also seals, dusky dolphins, and many varieties of birds. 

5. The Great Coast Road

The beautiful 600 kilometer-long Great Coast Road, peppered with 19th century gold-rush towns, runs down the South Island’s west coast like a gleaming spine. Narrow roads taper down to sharp cliffs while the Tasman Sea crashes over rocky beaches several hundred meters below. 

6. Fox Glacier

For many travelling to the South Island, among the key highlights of the west coast are the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers. Fox is the larger one, stretching a good 13 kilometers and running hundreds of meters deep. 

7. Franz Josef Glacier

Just a 30-minute drive from Fox, is the mesmerizing blue river of ice called Franz Josef Glacier. If weather conditions are favorable, it’s possible to go exploring the ethereal ice caves here, complete with glacier heli hikes, exciting ice climbs, and hot-pool visits. 

8. The Catlins

The Catlins is a place you must visit if you’re a wildlife lover. Start your adventure with Catlins Forest Park, home to roaring waterfalls and easygoing trails. Find Surat Bay to meet the native fauna there, including fur seals. Head southwest along the coast to admire the dolphins and penguins. 

9. Arthur’s Pass National Park

Find Arthur’s Pass and you’ve won a “pass” to absolutely breathtaking scenery weaving through the Canterbury Plains, beech forests, and the Canterbury Park. Inch into the mountains and you’ll find Alpine lakes, wild flowers, glistening glaciers, deep gorges, and limestone boulders. 

10. Blue Pools Track

Follow the kilometer-long path to see the blue pools that span luminously across the island – pools so crystal clear that you can see the trout swimming upstream.

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