Sign Up
Newsletter Signup
Free Fodor's Newsletter

Subscribe today for weekly travel inspiration, tips, and special offers.

Fodor's Weekly: Your expert travel wrap-up
Today's Departure: Your daily dose of travel inspiration (coming soon)

Upper South Island and the West Coast Travel Guide

  • Photo: Tim90 / Shutterstock
  • Photo: Pichugin Dmitry / Shutterstock
  • Photo: ChameleonsEye / Shutterstock
  • Photo: Pichugin Dmitry / Shutterstock

Plan Your Upper South Island and the West Coast Vacation

The South Island has been carved by ice, water, and tectonic uplift, all processes still rapidly occurring. Here, the mellow farmland greens and jumbled forest-covered ranges of the North Island are replaced by snowcapped mountains, glaciers, rivers that sprawl across wide-shingle beds and, in the northeast, drowned river valleys.

Top Reasons To Go

  1. Mountains, Glaciers, and Beaches Hiking, climbing, short rain forest and coastal walks, glacier walks and scenic flights, and learning about the gold and coal-mining heritage are all popular West Coast activities. Across the Upper South Island, golden beaches and bays and forest-covered national parks are your playgrounds.
  2. Wildlife The Marlborough Sounds and Abel Tasman coast are home to several island sanctuaries where rare native wildlife is protected. At Kaikoura, whales, dolphins, and ocean-traveling albatross come close to shore to feed. You’ll find New Zealand seals in coastal areas throughout all these regions.
  3. Wine In Marlborough and Nelson the sunny-day–cool-night climate means grapes come off the vines plump with flavor. At many of the smaller wineries, you'll likely share your first taste with the winemakers themselves.

When To Go

When to Go

Nelson and Marlborough are delightful year-round, but beach activities are best from December to mid-March if you plan to be in the water. F...

Read More

Check historic weather for your trip dates:

Travel Tips

Upper South Island and the West Coast Travel Tips

See All



Trip Finder

Fodor's New Zealand

View Details
Travel Deals