Environmental

Top 3 Must-Sees on New Zealand’s South Island

Taylor Shuman is a student at Chapman University and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in  Newcastle, Australia.

This has got to be one of my favorite views in New Zealand on the Hooker Valley Trail

This has got to be one of my favorite views in New Zealand on the Hooker Valley Trail

One of the great things about studying abroad in Australia is that there are so many amazing places to visit right in your backyard or just across the pond. I can say without a doubt that New Zealand is the most unbelievable place I’ve been lucky enough to visit. If the first things that come to mind when you think of New Zealand are Hobbits and Middle Earth, that’s great, but there is so much more to this country that needs to be explored! Here are the 3 most jaw dropping sights I saw during my time on the South Island. 10/10 would recommend.

Paragliding in Queenstown

Queenstown is a quaint, relaxing city centred around the beautiful Lake Wakatipu. If you’re heading to the South Island, this city is a must see. I don’t think I’ve ever met as many kind and wonderful people as I did in Queenstown. To get the city’s best views, taking the gondola up to Skyline Queenstown is hands down the best way to do it. For thrill seekers like me, paragliding will be the cherry on top to your visit. The experience was indescribable, so I’ll just leave you with a picture to do the explaining for me.

Didn't I tell you the views were great?

Didn’t I tell you the views were great?

For those who aren’t fond of heights, taking the Skyline Luge track is another fun way to get a thrill. You can race down the track while taking in the incredible views of Lake Wakatipu and the city skyline.

Here's a shot of the luge track

Here’s a shot of the luge track

Hiking the Hooker Valley Trail

The nature in New Zealand is breath taking. It’s the perfect place for hiking, biking, kayaking – the list goes on. Hiking is a free, easy way to get some fresh air and pictures worth (at least) a thousand words. My favourite hiking trail is the Hooker Valley Trail in the Mount Cook National Park. Along the trail you’ll see rivers, mountains, and even end up at the base of a massive glacier.

The Hooker Valley Trail gets more beautiful around every turn

The Hooker Valley Trail gets more beautiful around every turn

Stargazing in Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo is a quiet town just a short drive from the Mount Cook region. It is home to another of New Zealand’s gorgeous lakes, along with something else a little more unique. Lake Tekapo has some of the darkest skies in the world, which makes it the ideal place to go stargazing. I have never seen as many stars as I did while on my stargazing tour. Something I didn’t even realize before visiting New Zealand is that the stars we see in the Northern Hemisphere are completely different from the ones in the Southern Hemisphere. I saw constellations that I might never get the opportunity to see again. Due to high levels of air and light pollution, getting a clear view of the stars has become rather rare, so stargazing in Lake Tekapo was a very special and grounding experience.

I couldn't get a photo while stargazing, but here's a shot of Lake Tekapo during the daytime

I couldn’t get a photo while stargazing, but here’s a shot of Lake Tekapo during the daytime

The water at Lake Tekapo was so blue, I couldn't get over it!

The water at Lake Tekapo was so blue, I couldn’t get over it!

Writing about New Zealand just doesn’t do it justice. It’s a place that you really need to experience for yourself. So grab your camera and some hiking boots and get ready for the trip of a lifetime. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

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