The world's ultimate outdoor playground

Also known by its Maori name, Te Waipounamu, this long land mass is a third bigger than its northern sibling. Separated from the North Island by the Cook Strait, its length is spanned by the glorious Southern Alps, home to the country’s highest peak, Aoraki (Mount Cook). Less populous than the north, it’s colder in winter and drier in summer, making it the ideal playground for pleasure seekers of all persuasions.

After a gold rush that saw it swarmed by prospectors during the 1860s, the South Island boasts a colonial history that’s as rich as its soil, which also produces some world-class wine grapes. The island’s elongated shape makes it ideal for long drives, with must-see sights ranging from Milford Sound and Fiordland on the west coast to Christchurch and Dunedin on the east, with stunning resort towns Queenstown and Wanaka nestled in between.