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. Yes, we are all about the South Island!

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.  Its a hard choice we know. But its better than not enjoying either as you are trying to rush your time in New Zealand. NZ is all about taking it slow, stopping to smell the roses (ok maybe not roses but flowers, ferns, and sheep?) In our opinion that island you pick 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. 

Disclaimer: 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



Bike rides along amazing landscapes

9 Day Southern Light Christchurch to Queenstown Tour

Explore the lesser known spots that other tour groups don't visit. Whether it's a secret glow-worm walk at night, a lush rainforest-fringed pool for a dip, a bike ride along deserted roads hugging the coast or a local cafe that serves quite possibly the best muffins in New Zealand.
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Explore more of NZ’s best National Parks

27 Day Ultimate Explorer Auckland to Auckland Tour

Quite possibly the best thing you can do in New Zealand. Grab life with both hands on this in depth, all-points covered action and adventure wilderness experience. This trip guarantees to show you the best of the North and South Island and the experience of a lifetime. .
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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.
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