Given the proximity of vineyards to town, one of Marlborough’s most popular activities is wine touring on bicycle. The valleys between the vine-lined hills are beautifully straight and flat, making for casual and easy biking conditions. Over the course of a single day, travelers on a biking wine tour from Blenheim can visit six different Marlborough wineries while enjoying the pastoral scenery. Slowly pedal past rustic farmhouses and expansive vineyards while basking in the sun of one of the driest regions in New Zealand. When you arrive at the tasting room or cellar door, you can also sample the bread and olive oil that many vineyards provide, or grab lunch at a restaurant seated amongst the vines. A benefit of touring Marlborough by bicycle is you work up an appetite while peddling between the vineyards, as well as give your body time to process the tastings.
The Routeburn Track — with its epic views, cascading falls, hidden lakes, ridgeline trails, comfortable huts, glacial valleys and soaring alpine parrots — is a legitimate contender for the title of one of the best hikes on the South Island. Given its popularity, however, the first tip for hiking the Routeburn Track is to make reservations early. Bookings for the peak season of December to March can fill up months in advance, and if you wait too long secure a spot, you could either be left without a bunk entirely or forced to hike the trail in two nights — rather than the recommended three.
During winter in Queenstown, the city itself only gets two days per month of snow falling downtown. What’s more, Queenstown’s elevation is barely a thousand feet above sea level. It’s curious, then, that this South Island resort town is a global magnet for snowboarding and often considered one of the best in the Southern Hemisphere.
Visit Dunedin in the middle of July and you’ll question if it’s still Polynesia. This town, after all, is located on an island that’s part of the “South Pacific,” but the brisk weather and occasional snow make it anything but sunny and tropical. Here on the South Island’s southeastern coast, winter lows from July-August hover just above freezing, and high temperatures generally struggle to break above 50°F. Heavy snow is rare, however—especially along the coast—and a light, coastal band of clouds tend to linger over the shore.
For the the native Maori who first settled the mountainous stretch of the South Island, towering Mt. Cook was known as “Aoraki,”—the revered, indomitable, “cloud piercer.” It’s an apt name for the glacially-carved mountain that rises over 12,000 feet, seeing as its pointy, icy spire is higher than any other peak in the surrounding Southern Alps. And, […]
In any corner of the world, one of the best ways to get the community pulse is to stroll the local markets. Down here, away from the sightseeing buses and tours and heavily-marketed attractions, local vendors sell local crafts and speak the local truth. Looking for a good lead on where to eat or an underrated attraction? Or simply some cheeky conversation about local politics and news? Head to the local market stalls—where seemingly pedestrian browsing and shopping can strangely spawn your trip’s best photos or memories. Life here on the South Island is no different, so here are some of the best markets near Christchurch for gauging the local pulse.