The South Island of New Zealand with the backpacker mecca Queenstown is a fantastic place for those who want action and adventure for all their money. The nature is very beautiful with mountains, glaciers, lakes and the real Hobbit landscapes, at the same time the population in the southern parts of New Zealand is very friendly.
A real backpacker paradise
The South Island of New Zealand has something to offer to the activity and adrenaline hungry backpacker all year round. Here you can do rafting, kayaking, bungee jumping, jet-boating, parachute jumping, horse riding in the mountains, paragliding or rappelling, skiing, hiking on the glaciers, yes, you will never have to be bored here. New Zealand in general and specifically the South Island has become a center for wild and entertaining activities and it comes with the extreme and beautiful nature you will find here: glaciers, volcanos, caves, amazing fjords, snow covered mountains, geysers, rivers, waterfalls and much more. Some of the absolute highlights are Milford Sound in the far south that is one of the most beautiful fjords in the world, Abel Tasman National Park in the northern part of the island, the impressive glacier Fox Glacier and the whale safaris, whale watching by Kaikoura.
The starting point for many of these activities is the city Queenstown on the southern part of the island. This city has evolved to an amazing adventure mecca for backpackers, a place with countless hostels, bars, restaurants and providers of all kinds of excursions and adventures. So more than just being a place where you can arrange all the kinds of tours and experiences you can dream of, it is also the place where you will meet plenty of new friends, because here you will always find backpackers and travelers from the whole world.
Christchurch and its surroundings
The main city on the South Island of New Zealand is Christchurch, which has an international airport so most travelers will pass through here. The city has nice parks, a botanic garden, beautiful old houses and friendly streets. When you have experienced the city, the area offers the beautiful Lake Tekapo and the nearby Mount Cook and glaciers. From Christchurch it can also be recommended to take The Trans Alpine Railway to Greymouth, it is one of the most beautiful railroads of the world.
Rainforests and the surprises of the ocean
One of the most wondrous things about the southern part of the island, that is covered in alpine landscape, is that you can also find rainforests. And perhaps even more surprising is that it's located just next to the famous Fox Glacier. It is a sublime experience to move from one extreme to another in such a short time and you cannot really understand two such different natural phenomena can exist right next to each other. You will experience other pleasant surprises if sailing out from Kaikoura to see the giants of the ocean, the whales. Not only does one get really close to these impressive animals, you will also get to see dolphins and have the opportunity to get into the water and swim with them on another part of the excursion. That is a magical experience.
Accommodation and transportation
As in the rest of New Zealand, the South Island has tons of good hostels at decent prices. Book well in advance, especially in Queenstown in the New Zealand summer from November to February, as it is the high season here. It is also a good idea to book early during the winter when the snow covered mountains attract ski-enthusiasts. Transportation works the same here as in the rest of the country and the hop on hop off busses is a great way to get around. An alternative is to rent a campervan or a car - this way you can get the most out of New Zealand.