5 Ways To Keep Your Feet On The Ground On New Zealand's South Island

14 September 2016
Read Time: 2.2 mins

Not inclined to climb every mountain, mess about on glaciers, hurtle down the slopes, or generally get too close to the great outdoors? Don’t despair – although New Zealand’s photogenic South Island is known for its more energetic pursuits, there are still plenty of ways to enjoy yourself with your feet firmly planted on the ground.

1. Go Winery-Hopping In Marlborough

A woman tastes wine at a cellar door in Marlborough, New Zealand. Get your thrills at the cellar door. Picture: MarlboroughNZ.com

There are more than 20 wineries close to Blenheim in the Malborough region, known for its sauvignon blanc, at the top of the South Island. You can visit them all by bike if you want to cycle the wine trail, but car and coach tours are also available. There is no shame, however, in staying put, and letting them come to you at the Marlborough Food & Wine Festival in February 2017, in Blenheim’s stunning Brancott Vineyard.

While you’re there: Try some green-lipped mussels in the nearby historic town of Havelock.

Where to stay: Vintner’s Retreat, Blenheim.

2. Shop Shipping Containers In Christchurch

A couple wander through the Re:START shipping container mall in Christchurch, New Zealand. Wander through Christchurch's shipping container mall. Picture: ChristchurchNZ.com

The city of Christchurch knows a thing or two about adversity, bouncing back from the devastating 2011 earthquake in several creative ways. The Re:START Container Mall is one such initiative, with about 40 shops and food caravans operating out of shipping containers. You can also shop for New Zealand greenstone, jade, alpaca clothing and more at the weekend markets. Also check out Quake City, a multi-sensory attraction all about the Canterbury earthquakes.

While you’re there: Pick a festival – there’s any number of festivals throughout the year in Christchurch, from the World Buskers Festival to NZ Ice Fest.

Where to stay: The George Hotel, Christchurch.

More South Island inspiration:

Open shutter: Spring Colour In New Zealand

Road trip: Exploring The Great Alpine Highway

3. Live Vicariously At The NZ Mountain Film & Book Festival In Wanaka

A snowboarder hikes up a snowy mountain in a scene from the New Zealand Mountain Film & Book Festival. Let others do all the work at the Mountain Film & Book Festival. Picture: Thomas Vialletet

Just because you don’t want to get active yourself doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy watching other people do it. Next year’s New Zealand Mountain Film & Book Festival in Wanaka runs from June 30-July 9, and showcases the world’s best adventure movies, along with live music, workshops and book readings, art exhibitions and more.

While you’re there: Visit Wanaka Beerworks, the town’s boutique brewery, for a tour and tasting.

Where to stay: Edgewater, Lake Wanaka.

4. Visit New Zealand’s Only Castle In Dunedin

Larnach Castle in Dunedin, New Zealand. History and gardens delight at Larnach. Picture: Getty Images

Sitting pretty on the Otago Peninsula, Larnach Castle in Dunedin dates back to 1871, and its exquisite gardens have gained the title of a Garden of International Significance. It was built by merchant William Larnach for his wife Eliza, and is filled with original New Zealand antiques. High tea is served daily in the ballroom at 3pm.

While you’re there: Check out the Little Blue Penguins – the world’s smallest penguin – and the rare Yellow-eyed Penguins on the Otago Peninsula’s beaches. Go on, a little bit of wildlife won’t hurt.

Where to stay: Larnach Lodge at Larnach Castle, Dunedin.

5. Check Out The World’s Fastest Indian In Invercargill


The E Hayes hardware store in Southland’s Invercargill might not sound like a tourist attraction, but as well as the hardware, it houses a collection of vintage and modern vehicles, including Burt Munro’s World’s Fastest Indian, which found renewed fame in the film of the same name. The original 1920 Indian Scout motorcycle is the centrepiece of the E Hayes Motorworks Collection, which also includes early vintage machinery, pumps, engines and lathes.

While you’re there: Take a day trip to Milford or Doubtful sounds for a scenic cruise.

Where to stay: Ibis Styles, Invercargill.

Visit your local Flight Centre store or call 131 600 for more advice and the latest deals on travelling to New Zealand's South Island.

Renae Spinks

Travel for me is about conversations and connections. There’s nothing like setting foot in a new land and meeting people a world apart. From talking to North Sea fishermen in Norway’s Lofoten Islands to breakfast chat at a B&B in my own back yard, there’s always a story to share and a tale to tell.