What to see (do) in South Island
I took a ferry from Wellington to Picton. The ride is around 3 hours and the price is 55NZ$ per person or 175NZ$ with a car. From Picton you need to definitely visit Nelson on the way to Motueka where I started my trip. When you are there you can visit center of New Zealand.
Then I continued to Motuaka. It is small town just 30 minutes from Nelson. On the way to Motueka you should go through Mapua where you can stop in Rabbit Island.
I came to Motueka and I stayed there one night. On the other day I continued to Kaiteriteri beach which is really beautiful.
If you really like hiking you can go to Marahau from Kaiteriteri beach. Marahao is small town, where you start Abel Tasman great walk. You can decide if you want to do only one day hike or if you want to do the entire great walk which is around 3 days of walking. Don’t forget that you need to book a campsite and the price is 15NZ$.
If you don’t want to walk back for 3 days its better to book a water taxi. I booked a water taxi from Tutaranui, which is a town on the north part of Abel Tasman. The price depends from which place you will take a water taxi. From Totaranui the price is $47 back to Marahao.
Where you hiking Abel Tasman you will see a lot of nice beaches; you can also rent a kayak and you should also visit Cleopatra pools in the first day of hiking just don’t take a route through the water but go around.
From Abel Tasman Nation Park I returned to Motueka crossroads and to the road in the direction of Collingwood to visit Farewell spit. It is the most northeast point of the South Island. When you there you can walk 4k on the beach. Then you should also go a little bit further and visit other places where you can see caves and when it is a low tide I recommend walking back along the beach.
On the way back from Farewell spit I stopped in Cannan Downs Scenic Reserve. It is really beautiful there!!
And also Waikoropupu Springs Walk. There is an amazing lake with beautiful blue water.
From Ferewell split I continued to travel south. You should stop in Nelson lakes and do a hike in blue lake. It is a little bit difficult hike but when you are in good condition you can do it in three days.
Then from Nelson lakes, I took highway 6 and traveled through the west coast down to the south. When you are in Wesport you can decide if you want to also visit Karamea, where Heaphy track starts and where you should visit Crazy Paving Cave or continue down south via the west coast.
On the way back from Karamea, you will go again through Wesport and little bit after Wesport you definitely stop in Cape Foulwind. It is really nice there. You can walk to an area where you can see seals.
After Cape Foulwind you should also stop in pancake rocks. Everything is on the west coast road.
After that you can turn a little bit from highway 6 and go to Arthurs pass. It is a road which is going in the direction to Christchurch from west coast to the east coast. It is amazing there. You can do a lot of beautiful hikes. First is Arthurs pass (Avalanche peak). It is not a really difficult hike and this is the only marked hike there. If you are fit enough you should do it in less then 6 hours. If you want to do a more difficult hike which is not marked and where do you need to find your way up and down you should go to Mt. Cassidy.
From Arthus´s pass I went back to highway 6 and continued down to the south. On the way you should stop and sleep in Hokitika where you can see a very beautiful sunset.
From Hokitika it was really close to glaciers. First is Franz Jozef where you can pay $330NZ and take a trip with a helicopter to the glacier or if you don’t have enough money you can just hike really close to the glacier. I visited caves and walked in really cold water and when you have money, Franz Jozef has the biggest skydive which has a 90 seconds free fall.
The second one is Fox Glacier. It is also very beautiful and you can take trip to the glacier and other hikes in this area.
From the glaciers if you continue down to the south and you will come to the town Haast, but first before you will arrive there stop in the lake Matheson where you will see the refection of the mountain in the water. In area surrounding Haast there is a lot of beautiful hikes, just ask in the I-site for information. On the way from Hasst to Mount Aspring National park you will see a lot of nice waterfalls and Blue River when you can jump into the water but be prepare that the water is really cold.
From the Blue River I arrived in Wanaka. Wanaka is a very beautiful town and, along with Queenstown, it is the most visit town in the south island. There are a lot of beautiful hikes and I would like to live there. You can also do hikes to the glacier and swim in Lake Wanaka and the same is possible in Queenstown. A good activity in Queenstown is taking a hike to the top of the gondola or you can walk up to Queenstown hill.
From Queenstown I went down to the south. I wanted to visit Fiordland. The most famous areas in Fiordland are Milford sound and Kepler great walk.
If you want to walk the Kepler track, it is a three day hike and the most beautiful day is the second. If you decide to go to Milford Sound don’t forget that you need to pay for the boat trip or you can take a small hike there which is free. From Fiordland I travelled to Dunedin. It is a nice town down in the south and from there it is not far to visit Stuart island where you can see the kiwi bird in his natural environment. You can only see them at night. Most of the backpackers skip Stuart Island. It is up to you if you want to see them or not.
When I saw everything in the south it was the time to go back to the north. This time I took the east coast and I stopped at Mount Cook. It is very nice there and you can do a hike with 2000 steps. When you are there you can also go kayaking or you can take a trip with helicopter to the mountain.
From Mount Cook I continued and stopped in Lake Tekapo. It is on the way to Christchurch. The lake is amazing and has really clear water.
From the Lake Tekapo I arrived to my final destination Christchurch. Christchurch, before the earthquake, was a nice city but now there is a lot of construction work because they are trying rebuild the city.