North Vs South Island New Zealand? Why the South is better.

We already discussed some differences between the North and South Island in a previous article, here we take a more unbalanced view.

If you only have a short time to travel in New Zealand 10 days- 2 weeks then we would advise you to choose an island. In our opinion that island should be the South. Flying in and out of Christchurch would make the most sense, as most of our tours would start and finish there. 

We do really like the North Island, its great for beaches, bush and culture. Read more about it here. However, we think the South Island has everything you would expect to see in New Zealand; snow capped mountains, glaciers, lakes, fjords. It's just so typically New Zealand it would be a shame to miss it. You can tick off all your must see's in just a few days.

CU58 The Shire Matamata Waikato Sara Orme2
Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit

The South Island also has every iconic image you have seen in Lord of the Rings. The trilogy was filmed in New Zealand and so was The Hobbit, thanks to Kiwi director Peter Jackson. Everyday you will look out of the window as you drive along and see filming sites from Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit. Although the North Island is the home to some of middle earth including Hobbiton, there are many natural sites on the South Island that were used in the movie. Ask your tour guide to point out the mountains near Nelson where the fellowship journey along in the movie, or Mount Gunn near Franz Josef Glacier which was used as The White Mountains of Gondor.

657 Kaikoura Canterbury Matt Winter3
Native New Zealand Wildlife

We think the native wildlife that you will see in the South Island is also something that gives this island more appeal for those on a shorter time frame.

The extremely endangered yellow-eyed Penguins you can find on the Otago Peninsula, the rarest penguin in the world. The Seal colonies at Kaikoura, as well as the Dolphin and Whale spotting there. Plus the bird life in the south such as Albatrosses, Kea Parrot and the Kakapo. This island has a lot to offer in the way of native birds and animals in New Zealand.Find out more in our previous article on Native Wildlife in New Zealand.

ST02 George Crossing Queenstown Chris McLennan4
Adventure activities

Queenstown, in the South Island is well known as being the adventure capital of New Zealand. If you enjoy adrenalin activities Queenstown has them in abundance. The home of the Bungy jump with the ledge, Nevis and Kawarau Bridge you have plenty of choice if you want to Bungy. The Shotover jet boat ride will take you speeding through the Shotover river canyons. There is also White water rafting, hiking and biking and of course skiing and snowboarding in the winter months (May- September).

So there are some of the reasons we think if you can only visit one island in New Zealand make it the South.

Here are the tours that will take you to the South Island if you have a short time limit to travel.

Tours to get you there

Guided jet boat ride along Shotover River

Shotover Jet

The World’s Most Exciting Jet Boat Ride and the only company permitted to operate in the spectacular Shotover River Canyons.

Exciting jet boat ride along glacier-fed Dart River

1 Day Wilderness Jet and Funyaks

Explore the scenes and backdrops from the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies, Queenstown to Glenorchy scenic drive, one hour Dart River jet boat, gentle drift along the river in inflatable canoe 'Funyak'.

Scenic Tour and Jet Boat

Journey into a land of outstanding natural beauty rich in gold mining history and experience an exclusive tour or Winky’s Museum and the Sainsbury Gold Claim plus the jet boat ride.