Things to do in New Zealand – South Island

Abel Tasman National Park

Things to do in New Zealand – South Island – Top 7
Yes, we also had a wonderful time on the South Island of New Zealand. In this blog we take you with us and show you our Top 7 highlights and things to do in New Zealand – South Island.


Highlight 1: Nelson
For us staying in the region Nelson felt like “yes, this is a place we could live”. There is a peaceful, relaxed energy. The sun is always shining (well, almost always at least! ;-)). And the beach is close by.

There is a wonderful Saturday market in Nelson City. The best market we’ve been on (worldwide), with a lot of homemade organic, vegetarian, vegan snacks, and a lot of artsy little shops, and some street musicians.

Nelson City is a relaxed town, with a Swedish bakery, with healthy food – shops, and a cinema. 🙂

There are some beautiful beaches. We spent quite some time relaxing and playing on Tahunaui Beach and the beach on Rabbit Island.

For us staying in Nelson felt so good, that the universe invited us to stay longer. 🙂 We got a housesitting opportunity, so for two months we took care of a house on a hill, with views over the ocean, with a veggie-garden and a greenhouse, and a wonderful dog Rupert, a Labraspoodle.

Housesitting in Nelson - with Rupert

For more photo’s (of us playing on the beach :-)) check our Instagram account:

Photo 1 – Tahunaui Beach >>
Photo 2 – Tahunaui Beach >>
Photo 3 – Rabbit Island >>
Photo 4 – Rabbit Island >>
Photo 5 – Rabbit Island >>


Highlight 2: Abel Tasman
Just a short drive from Nelson is Abel Tasman National Park, one of New Zealands many national parks which you should definitely visit on your trip to New Zealand. You can spend a few hours, a day or multiple days enjoying this beautiful park, its golden sandy beaches, turquoise water and native bush, either by foot or from the water. Or you can combine the two. We took the water taxi to one of the many beaches and walked through the park from there.

Abel Tasman National Park


Highlight 3: Milford Sound
Milford Sound is one of the most popular tourist destinations in New Zealand. And it is well worth the visit! The road to Milford Sound already offers an amazing scenery, with great views over the mountains. When you arrive in Milford Sound, you can enjoy the beautiful scenery by boat, going on a scenic cruise through the Fiords.

The road to Milford Sound

For more photo’s check our Instagram account:

Photo 1 – Milford Sound >>
Photo 2 – Milford Sound >>


Highlight 4: The Grove
The Grove is a hidden gem near Takaka. It’s a short walk, and it feels like you’re in a prehistoric forest, or in an Indiana Jones movie. It’s a fun walk!

The Grove near Takaka


Highlight 5: Top of the world – walk
There are so many beautiful hikes throughout New Zealand. Routeburn Track is one of them!
We only hiked a short bit of it, and ‘wow!’ the views are stunning! You walk through the native bush and little waterfalls on the way up. Once you reach higher grounds you have panoramic views all around over snowcapped mountains and you’ll pass by little mountain lakes with super clear water.
This is definitely one to re-visit (and next time walk the full track! :-)).

The Routeburn Track


Highlight 6: Kaikoura – Swimming with the stars
Kaikoura is nice little town along the east coast of the South Island. Most tourists come here to spot whales and go for a swim with the dolphins. What most people don’t know is that you can also swim with the fur seals here. After spotting so many seals all over New Zealand, I (Elena) decided to go for this lesser known adventure.

Suited up in a warm wetsuit (the water of the coast of Kaikoura is very cold) a small group of us were taken out to a little island where many fur seals and their babies were playing and resting. The seals are very curious and once you’re in the water they like to come close to have a look at you. It was a beautiful experience!

Swimming with dolphins is on my wishlist for next time! 🙂

Fur seal baby


Highlight 7: Franz Josef Gletsjer
This time we didn’t visit the Franz Josef Gletsjer, but it’s on our list for the next visit. But we do have a picture of 2007 when Erwin visited New Zealand for the first time. Take a look at this blast from the past.

Franz Josef Gletsjer - Things to do in New Zealand

We enjoyed New Zealand very much and we intend to go back! There is so much more to explore and so many places we would like to see again.

But first, we are enjoying our next adventure; a roadtrip through the US!
Mid-May we flew from Nelson to San Francisco.
More on our American adventures to come… 🙂


Erwin & Elena


ps: What are your favourite places on the South Island of New Zealand?
Let us know so we can check it out next time! 🙂

Happy Healthy Travelers: We're on an adventure traveling around the globe, spreading happiness and healthiness on our way!

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