New Zealand South Island is such a paradise for nature lovers and all kinds of travelers. It’s one of the most convenient places for backpackers to travel, and the perfect spot for a long road trip. I had the privilege to work in New Zealand South Island for 6 months in different orchards under New Zealand Working Holiday Visa. Got to know a lot of friends, but most importantly, I got to witness the beauty of New Zealand by my own eyes. And guess what, I’m gonna share the New Zealand South Island photos I took with you today. For inspiration to travel to New Zealand, maybe. Hope you’ll enjoy it.
Let’s break it up to two parts, the northern part of South Island, and the southern part.
By the way, if you’re planning for a road trip in New Zealand, check out my Complete Guide to New Zealand Road Trip.
Southern New Zealand South Island Photos
Let’s start from the southern part, shall we? Actually, I spent most of my time in New Zealand in the northern part. The reason why I start the article with the southern part is simple – It’s more beautiful down south.
I bought a car in New Zealand using the money I earned there, it’s a Honda Accord 1998. After my apple tree pruning job ends, I and my travel partner started out road trip around South Island.
Let’s start with one of the most beautiful cities in New Zealand, Queenstown. This might be the starting point of most travelers.
Visiting Queenstown during Autumn is a great choice because the tourist crowd is fading, and the views are amazing. I actually spent hours just walking around the city, enjoying the vibes and Lake Wakatipu.
Check out my 27 Remarkable Things to do in New Zealand South Island to help plan your travel!
The best town to visit during Autumn season – Arrowtown. Every year, Akarua Arrowtown Autumn Festival will be held here, attracting lots of Kiwis to visit.
Wanaka is one of my all-time favorite winter towns. The tourists start flooding in during the winter season for skiing around the mountains nearby.
Ski equipment rental shops are everywhere and the vibes of Wanaka is at its peak. If you’re visiting Wanaka anytime soon, never miss Wanaka Lone Tree. And of course, definitely hike Roys Peak.
Check out this 10 Days New Zealand South Island Itinerary For Road Trip Travelers!
Glenorchy and Paradise
Located at the outskirt of Queenstown lies Glenorchy. It’s somehow strange because it gives you a feeling that you’re at peace. Like, you found inner peace just by looking at the mountains and walking around the town with a library as small as your room.
Trails are also available nearby, leading you closer to nature.
And not far away from Glenorchy it’s Paradise. I didn’t know about it until my travel partner told me. So, we decided to pay it a visit. I wasn’t disappointed.
Need specific destinations to plan your road trip? Here’s what you need: 25 Otherworldly New Zealand South Island Attractions.
Milford Sound is the most beautiful place I’ve ever been to in my life. The stunning and ridiculously steep mountains with hundreds of waterfalls plunging down into the sea after a good rainfall. Dolphins swimming around the cruises. Who could’ve imagined that?
The views alone made the whole 5 hours round-trip drive worth it. Attractions are everywhere along the way from Te Anau to Milford Sound too.
Probably the most popular lake in New Zealand South Island. The perfect reflective mirror view of two tallest mountains in New Zealand is just stunning.
Lake Matheson is located just a few kilometers away from Fox Glacier. Visiting for the sunrise will give you the best experience as there is almost no wind to disturb the reflective view.
Catlins Forest Park
Home of the most impressive waterfall in New Zealand – Purakaunui Falls. Waterfall lovers should never leave Catlins Forest Park out of the bucket list.
If you’re driving from the southernmost tip to Dunedin, passing through Catlins Forest Park will be a great idea!
Got flat tires here in Dunedin and had to spend NZD250 to get them fixed.
Otago Museum is definitely worth your visit. It’s huge, packed full of information and the interiors are fascinating. Pay a visit to Baldwin Street, the world’s steepest residential road too.
Photos above are taken in Tunnel Beach, an amazingly naturally-sculptured beach with a huge rock arch. It’s one of the best places in New Zealand to watch the sunrise.
When you’re visiting Dunedin, never miss the world’s steepest residential road, Baldwin Street. Note that there will be a lot of tourists accompanying you hiking up the road.
Oamaru is a small Victorian town with unique architecture and interesting events. The photo you see above is Oamaru Steampunk HQ, one of the most visited attractions of Oamaru.
There’s one unique experience you must try in Oamaru, and that is getting close to Blue penguins without paying for the tour. How to do that? Well, you’ll have to drive all the way to Waterfront Road and wait for the penguins to cross the road when they return to the shore. Remember, no flashlights, and never touch the penguins.
Home to one of the most iconic attractions in New Zealand, Moeraki Boulders. Best visited for sunrise, with the boulders as your subjects.
The most scenic way to cross from east coast to the west coast. Attractions in Arthur’s Pass include Castle Hill and Avalanche Peak Trail.
Northern New Zealand South Island Photos
Before arriving in New Zealand, I actually found from the internet that Motueka is one of the most popular towns for orchard jobs. Believing in that, I booked a flight ticket from Auckland to Nelson and bus ticket to Motueka when I was still in my home in Penang, Malaysia.
Things didn’t turn out as expected. Finding a job there is legitly hard. But nevertheless, I got a job in Temuka for a month, and after that, I worked in kiwifruit factory and apple orchard pruning the apple trees! I stayed a few months there before leaving for my month-long road trip around South Island.
I came across this shipwreck by accident when I was walking by the beach. And I was astonished because who would’ve imagined a shipwreck while strolling across the beach? This sunrise photo was taken when I finished my apple picking job in Temuka and got back to Motueka.
Couldn’t really remember where is this to be honest. But I’m sure we were buying one of the most famous milk in Motueka in the evening. Milk dispensed from a machine.
The photos above were taken when I was jobless during my first week in New Zealand. I rented a bike from a bike shop in Motueka and cycled all the way to Kaiteriteri Beach. It took me around 2 hours because I stopped a lot for photos. It was fun and adventurous, considering it’s my first week in this wonderful country.
My friends living in the same backpacker hostels as me introduced me to a job agent, who landed me a job in Temuka. I’m gonna start my first job overseas as an apple picker! But the bad news is that the job will be starting in 10 days.
Hey, I’m not gonna stay here much longer, I’ve been here for two weeks now. So I stopped by in Kaikoura and Akaroa before getting to Temuka.
Black sand beach in Kaikoura. Pretty cold and quiet there even though it was late summer. Seagulls flying all around, fish bones are everywhere to be found.
Before traveling to New Zealand, I had no idea on budget traveling. So I booked myself an Albatross Cruise Tour for a hundred bucks, together with several retired old couples. Instantly felt like a spoiled kid. It didn’t take me a long time to actually learn to save money while traveling, especially when you’re mixed with some Asian friends.
Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway. Took me more than 6 hours to complete because again, I stopped a lot. Everything was so new for me. And different, mind-opening. The world is the best classroom?
I’m sure I’m not the only one who enjoys watching wildlife chilling without being afraid of human beings. It’s a New Zealand Fur Seal!
If you read my blog long enough, you’ll know I’m an honest person. Christchurch is really not my thing, as I’m not a big fan of big cities. I stopped by in Christchurch and make it a transit point to Akaroa at its east.
Utilized the spare time I had there to explore wherever my foot takes me.
Vibrant structures and architectures are everywhere in Christchurch. As you can see above. A mall built with shipping containers, sounds cool, aye?
Believe it or not, mural paintings are easily found in every corner of Christchurch city. Not just graffiti, it’s a mural painting on a huge block of the building.
If you paid attention to the news at all, there was a 6.3 magnitude earthquake in Christchurch which killed hundreds and literally destroyed parts of the city. Including this Christchurch Cathedral in Cathedral Square.
Akaroa is a stunning paradise for backpackers. “Why backpackers?”, you said? Well, even though the town itself is pretty and unique with the French-influenced vibe, I think the true beauty of Akaroa lies outside the town.
If you’re going to visit Akaroa, I definitely recommend staying in Onuku Farm Hostel. They provide transport from the town to the hostel for free if you booked with them, which I loved. And they have a map with several trails nearby so you can witness the beauty of the peninsula with your own eyes.
Akaroa Shuttle provides daily shuttle service to and fro Akaroa and Christchurch. It wasn’t cheap but I took it anyway. If I were to go again, I would definitely love to try hitchhiking! The shuttle dropped us at this very location as a teaser and for photographs.
With the map provided by Onuku Farm Hostel, I hopped on several hiking trails by myself. Look at the water, it’s just…
You will feel like you’ve blended into nature.
I didn’t know it back then, but at the end of the day, I found that if I swim all the way out of the “gate”, I might reach the South Pole.
Just kidding… But it’s still the South Pole beyond the horizon.
Mt Arthur, Kahurangi National Park
Anyway, let’s go all the way back up to the northern side because, after Akaroa, I headed down to the south.
I started working in a kiwifruit packaging factory in Motueka after my apple picking job. Living in the same apartment with my co-workers, who are mostly Asians, I felt totally like home. Every weekend we would organize a weekend trip to nearby attractions.
Mt Arthur is one of them. In fact, I attempted the hike twice. The first time was a failure because the wind was too strong, could simply sweep me down the ridge. We decided not to proceed. The second attempt, however, is a success. I did it myself and I took the chance, as the wind wasn’t as strong as the first time.
The fog disappears only after I made it to the summit and descended. It was all foggy in the summit, to the point where I couldn’t see what’s behind the edge of the summit cliff.
It was so rewarding to actually enjoy and have everything to myself. Mt Arthur is such an underrated hike in New Zealand South Island.
Starting from the green forest to the summit where everything was frozen, the views of the hike was stunning. I wouldn’t have made it without my winter jacket.
Couldn’t ask for more than these.
Nelson Lakes National Park – Hiking Mt Robert
It was a weekend trip for us. Around 10 of us went for the hike, expecting much colder temperature, we wore more than we should. It was hot, so hot because the sun kept scorching at us.
Golden Bay & Abel Tasman National Park
If someone described Golden Bay as the gem of New Zealand South Island, I wouldn’t disagree. The photo you see above is the northernmost part of South Island.
Kayaking is one of the must-do things in Abel Tasman National Park other than the multi-day trek. Roaming around the vast, cold ocean, visiting islands without inhabitants, it’s freedom.
Probably looks familiar for you if you’re a Windows user. Yup, it’s in New Zealand, and it’s called Wharariki Beach. The Archway Islands could be a little tricky to find depending on where you park your car.
There will be a huge piece of sand dunes before you reach the coast so be prepared for some sand-walking!
Punakaiki Pancake Rocks
It’s one of the first destinations for our New Zealand Road Trip. Punakaiki Pancake Rocks is a traveler-friendly attraction, where viewpoints and decks are well-maintained.
Wheelchair access is also available throughout the whole deck as well.
When the wave is strong enough, you’ll also find a blasting water eruption from the blowhole!
Other Photos of New Zealand South Island Attractions
Wrapping It Up
So what you think of these New Zealand South Island photos? Let me know in the comment section below! If you want to contribute some photos, I’ll be more than happy to include a photo credit for you. Happy traveling!
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