Between the mountains, hills and lakes and the fact that New Zealand was the setting for the popular film franchise Lord Of The Rings, this is always going to be a lovely place to visit. New Zealand's South Island, in particular, should go on your list as there are interesting things to do, restaurants and hotels with fresh food and gorgeous views, and some awesome beaches.
From what time of year to head over there to some hotels and restaurants that can't be missed, keep reading to plan the perfect getaway. Here is a travel guide to South Island, New Zealand: 11 things to know while planning your trip.
Go To A Winery And See Christchurch Street Art Trail
Newzealand.com recommends going to Central Otago to check out a winery. You'll be awed by the beauty of the landscape as there are green hills, mountains, and lots of water. The area is famous for its Pinot Noir.
You can also go to the Christchurch Street Art Trail where you will not only get a glimpse of some incredible art but will also see a lot of cool coffee shops. Grab a cup of coffee and try the pancakes at Addington Coffee Co-op.
Head To New Zealand In December, January, February, March, Or April
What time of year should you go to South Island, New Zealand? Champion Traveler recommends going in December, January, February, March, or April. This is because of the weather, with the first three months bringing the hottest climate.
According to Frommers, the most popular time of year for people living in New Zealand to take time off is December and January, and since summertime in New Zealand is from December to February, hotels will be pricey and also pretty full. That's something to keep in mind, but with the weather, this is an awesome time to head over there.
Stay At Kamana Lakehouse Or Hilton Queenstown Resort And Spa
One hotel you could stay at in Queenstown is Kamana Lakehouse. You'll be able to see Lake Wakatipu and are in an awesome area since you're close to the middle of Queenstown. It's impossible to make too much out of the view of the lake here — from photos alone, it's breathtaking. Grab some food at the hotel's Nest Kitchen and Bar. Trip Advisor reviews mention the breakfast, coffee, gnocchi, and sliders.
Hilton Queenstown Resort and Spa is also on the same lake, and you'll be able to choose from an apartment or room. You'll get a balcony and gas fireplace, plus there are five different restaurants/bars. Again, the views are incredible. There's a fire pit outside of the hotel's Wakatipu Grill, which is a nice touch.
Stay In Queenstown
When you're figuring out where to stay in South Island, New Zealand, Queenstown would be a great pick. Queenstownnz.co.nz says that there are always cool activities here whether it's summer or winter, from skiing to getting out on the water.
There is literally something for everyone here. You can go for hikes, visit a winery, go on a boat, rent a bike, and more. Having so many options makes this the perfect location when visiting New Zealand.
Try Ivy & Lola's Kitchen + Bar And Twenty Seven Steps
A wonderful restaurant in Queenstown is Ivy & Lola's Kitchen + Bar which is located in Queenstown. This is a good choice for breakfast as the restaurant opens at 8 a.m. Order the Homemade Banana Bread which the menu describes as having "lemon curd and whipped maple and walnut butter" (yum) or Spicy Pumpkin And Sweetcorn Fritters that come with "tomato ginger jam, poached eggs and herbed quinoa and black bean salsa." The dinner menu has mussels, scallops, lamb, and "Three hour slow roasted rib-eye steak."
Another restaurant to try in Christchurch is Twenty Steven Steps. One quick glance at the appetizer menu and you'll want to go immediately: there are "Citrus & herb marinated olives" and cauliflower served with "green olive, almond, preserved lemon, cashew aioli, organic leaves." There's also lamb, other meat dishes, and lemon curd for dessert.
The Bus Is A Great Idea Here
According to Lonely Planet, taking the bus in New Zealand is really awesome as InterCity will get you where you want to go on South Island (and the North Island as well). The other company is Naked Bus. You can hop on a bus tour if you want another way of seeing this beautiful place.
There are also some shuttle buses that you can take if you want to travel between New Zealand's towns.
Don't Miss Abel Tasman National Park Or Fiordland National Park
The Culture Trip says that Abel Tasman National Park is a favorite spot in New Zealand. You can go hiking across 51 km and there are woods, cliffs, animals such as birds and penguins and dolphins, and people can even go kayaking.
Visitors should also check out Fiordland National Park, another beautiful landmark. There is everything here from mountains to water and it's a World Heritage site as well. Travelers can hike Milford Track which will be totally unforgettable.
The New Zealand Dollar Is The Currency, And Tourists Can Tip If They Wish
Newzealand.com explains that the currency used is the New Zealand Dollar. If travelers want, they can wait until their trip to do some currency exchanges at the banks here, although of course doing that before leaving is also easy. You can also rest assured about using MasterCard and Visa.
The website also says that you can tip if you wish to when dining out in New Zealand, but it's not something that is considered to be mandatory. You would tip if you felt that it was a truly amazing experience.
Best Time For Flight Deals
According to Cheap Flights, the best time of the year to get a cheap flight to New Zealand would be March. December is going to cost the most money which is logical since that's Christmastime (and when people like to travel to warmer places) and also the tourist season.
Flying at noon on a Tuesday should also cut down the costs of your plane tickets.
Enjoy Sumner Beach And Kaiteriteri Beach
If you're in South Island during the summertime, you'll definitely want to head to the beach. You'll want to enjoy Sumner Beach, which is located in Christchurch. A highlight is a playground that kids love. Some Trip Advisor reviews love this beach as tourists can grab an ice cream or coffee nearby.
Another good beach is Kaiteriteri Beach. The water is kid-friendly, and there are gorgeous rocks as well.
Locals Love Fairie BakeHouse
If you want to try a place in South Island that the locals love, check out Fairlie Bakehouse, which Contiki recommends.
People love coming here for the savory pies. They come in flavors such as "Delectable Bacon and Salmon" and "Pork Belly with Apple Sauce and Crackling." Those are just a few as there are several delicious options. Trip Advisor reviews say that this bakery gets busy, so bring your appetite and this will be a great discovery.