5 of our favourite cities in the South Island

08 September 20

New Zealand’s South Island is a truly unique place with captivating landscapes and sensational history. We've put together a list of our favourite South Island cities for you to learn about: 

1. Christchurch

Christchurch is your gateway to the Canterbury region, a vast land of patchwork plains, soaring peaks, alpine lakes and unique, once-in-a-lifetime activities. Enjoy a city tour and visit the Re:START precinct located in the heart of Christchurch. Offering a unique shopping experience, the outdoor retail and café precinct is built in fashionably presented shipping containers. The shops are full of premium fashion, shoes, food and Kiwi-icon based products. Located in Re:START is Quake City, a popular multi-media attraction that tells the stories of the Christchurch and Canterbury earthquakes.

For those with more free time in Christchurch, explore the city on an open top bus, tram or even while punting on the beautiful Avon River, an iconic attraction not to be missed. Board your classic Punt at the historic Antigua Boat Sheds landing, your Edwardian Punter will guide you quietly past trailing willows, woodlands and leafy banks as you absorb the beauty of Christchurch’s Hagley Park.

2. Te Anau

The picturesque township of Te Anau is well-known as the gateway to the Fiordland National Park. Te Anau is the perfect place to stop when visiting Milford Sound, as it breaks up the long drive from Queenstown.

If you're lucky enough to stay overnight, Te Anau offers a rich range of local restaurants serving fresh cuisine and quality accommodation that is conveniently located. 

The Te Anau Gloworm Caves are also a unique experience for travellers staying overnight in the region. Cruise to the western shores of Lake Te Anay before disembarking at Cavern House and entering the underground. Experience a mysterious underground world of waterfalls and incredible rock formations before drifting in silent darkness beneath glittering glowworms. 

3. Dunedin

Known as the Edinburgh of the South, Dunedin is recognised for its landscapes, wildlife and cultural history. Surrounded by dramatic mountain regions and a picturesque harbour, it is one of the most well preserved Victorian and Edwardian cities in the Southern Hemisphere. The Otago Peninsular is also visually stunning and well known for its incredible wildlife including the world’s rarest penguin colonies. 

One highlight of most GPT tours includes visit to Larnach Castle. Hear about the scandalous history on a guided tour, then enjoy time wandering the Garden of International Significance.

4. Queenstown

Queenstown is well-known as the popular adventure capital of New Zealand; so it’s worthwhile soaking up the activities and experiences on offer during your stay there. Most GPT tours include a two-night stay with plenty of free time to explore.

Set on the stunning waterfront of Lake Wakatipu, you’re surrounded 360-degrees by snow topped mountains that come alive with avid skiers during the wintertime. It’s a photographer’s paradise and a perfect place to appreciate mother nature.

5. Invercargill

Invercargill is New Zealand’s southernmost city and was founded in the 1850’s. With a population of around 53,000, it is the capital of Southland.

Invercargill is well-equipped with an excellent range of shops, lively bars and restaurants. Victorian, Edwardian and Art Deco heritage buildings give the city a charming old-world character.

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