An Honest Guide to New Zealand's South Island


Kia ora! And welcome to the South Island of New Zealand.

New Zealand is just outright unique. It’s where adventure meets snowy mountain ranges, a bit of island culture, Lord of The Rings, and warmth from Māori people. I went while studying abroad in Australia – not a bad spot for a spring break trip!!

*Whispers:* “take out a big loan.”

So go rent/hire a car and get ready to be confused, yet very charmed by the New Zealand accent. (See this hilarious Air New Zealand commercial).

Here are 9 honest tips you need for the South Island of New Zealand

1. Go old school and buy a map

Unless if you have a ton of data. There aren’t that many wifi-hotspots and the signal isn’t too hot. Even our GPS cut out.

Plus then you can say – “Look I’m a Millennial or a Gen Z’er who can read a map!”

You can get a free map through 100% PURE NEW ZEALAND

2. Go there with your boo thang (or find one)

Cheesy moment – but nighttime in New Zealand brings you about as close to space as you can get; with a sparkling sky, a nebula in a purple haze, even shooting stars. So yea, I enjoyed stargazing with my friends, but we were also surrounded by couples. There were definitely A LOT of “single” jokes cracked that night.

Lake Tekapo at night is the most romantic place on the planet, scientifically speaking.

Lake Tekapo. Still very jealous of the person with that boat.
3. Know how to drive a manual transmission. Or an “automatic manual.”

So skip to the next point if you can drive one! There really aren’t too many automatic transmissions in New Zealand, but there are “automatic-manuals.” There isn’t a foot clutch, but you still have to change the gear on the PRNDL (Or “Prindle” if you watched “The Suite Life of Zach and Cody” growing up lol).

Got yelled at in a Woolworth’s parking lot for a solid 10 minutes because we couldn’t reverse.

4. The weather has mad mood swings

Just bring those layers! It’s hot one second and freezing the next. Also helloooo you’re in New Zealand, you’re probably gonna hike at some point – that elevation change will hit ya!

5. Driving safety!!

Your GPS is gonna want you to go through Lindis Pass, Arthur’s Pass, Haast Pass, and so on. Check the weather and try not to do it at night. These are all verrryy scenic routes which means narrow roads and windy hills, woo!! Also, they obviously look better during the day.

And don’t be alarmed if (when) you have to cross a one-way bridge shared with a train.

6.  Kiwis

“Kiwis” refers to two separate things.

1. The people of New Zealand

2. A cute lil’ wingless bird.

7)  You are going to get peer pressured into bungy jumping

Whether you already put it on your bucket list, your friends sign up, or the cute kiwi (see above) at the tourism counter convinces you, you’re probably gonna go.

AJ Hackett invented the first bungy jump right outside of Queenstown. And as the “Adventure Capital of the World,” Queenstown makes sure that you know that (there are ads everywhere).

Heck, not bungy jumping in Queenstown would be like not eating crêpes in Paris.

**also spelled “bungee” outside of New Zealand.

5 ways to get the sh!t scared out of you in Queenstown

  • 11

    Do the first ever bungy jump

    It’s over water so not too shabby right???

    Kawarau Bridge Bungy – 43m

  • 22

    Highest bungy in New Zealand

    Jesus just look at this thing, my heart hearts.

    The Nevis Bungy – 134m


  • 33

    Get pushed off a cliff 

    Yes, you can pay to have someone strap you down to a chair and get pushed backward off a cliff. When in New Zealand??

    Shotover Canyon Swing – 60m

  • 44

    Slingshot through the air

    This is just nuts, I can’t describe it.

    Nevis Catapult – 150m


  • 55

    Jump out of a plane

    I didn’t do it here, but hey Queenstown has an incredible skyline.

    Up to 15,000ft.


not scared
6. The toilet issue

There is a very, VERY small amount of public toilets in the South Island.

This is actually such a large problem that there are not only a bunch of bills being proposed to build more toilets, but there are also literal HUMAN contamination issues. **GAGS**

Because in 2019 we have to tell tourists to stop defecating in public!

If you see a toilet, use it. Use it again. Hold it. Bring a BIN and take it to one of many designated dumpsites.

I know the SUAG community knows how to RESPECT, yea?? So spread the word and keep New Zealand beautiful. ♥

Thanks for coming to my TED Talk.


7) Road Kill

There are soooo many possums in New Zealand (not to be confused with opossums). And they’re nocturnal. So just come to terms with the fact that you’re gonna hit one… or 12.

8) Freedom Camping

~Freedom camping~ refers to just stopping and sleeping wherever. Great right? BUT, you can’t sleep in your car. You’ll need a ~self-contained~ campervan. See #6.

But if you just have a car, there are plenty of free campgrounds!

9) Finally, New Zealand rox

New Zealand is consistently used as a magical or sci-fi movie location for a reason. Parts of it seriously don’t look like they should be on our planet. Sooo prepare to compare it to every place you visit next in the future.

Have fun and get ready to meet a lot of sheep!

Have you been to New Zealand? What was your favorite part about it?

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