The Swiss Kiwis swisscross


South Island Experience

2,845km / OCTOBER TO MAY

This is a guided tour. If you'd rather experience this tour by yourself, you may rent a bike here.



Twelve days of breath taking alpine passes, snow covered mountains, massive valleys, rugged coastline and cool, shaded rivers.

Where we stop (main stops): Christchurch, Hanmer Springs, Kaikura, Blenheim, Nelson, Westport, Franz Josef or Fox Glacier, Wanaka, Queenstown, Winton, Dunedin, Oamaru, Christchurch. Details about these places can be found here.

View the imposing South Island glaciers after experiencing the 'adrenaline capital of the world' and then visit delightful bays, islands and waterways in the north.

Cost: NZ$ 5425 Book Now!

What is included if you book the North Island tour:

  • Motorcycle
  • Insurance
  • Guide on a motorcycle with satellite phone
  • Reservation for all accommodations
  • Airport transfers (North Island only)
  • Tour booklet
  • Maps
  • A gift

Not included:

  • Meals, snacks and drinks
  • Petrol
  • Airfares
  • Accommodation
  • Personal travel insurance

Introduction to the South Island

New Zealand’s south island is substantially larger than the north island, but is home to only about a million people of the country’s entire population. A slower pace and more relaxed approach to life in general happens on the entire island. Snowy mountains, imposing and ancient glaciers, dense forests, deep and mysterious fjords, wild coastlines and beautiful, pristine beaches provide a wide contrast of natural scenery for the visitor. If you ask people to picture New Zealand in their imaginations, it's the south island they think of. Some of the world’s best walking tracks can be found on the island and it is also home to some beautiful native wildlife.

Christchurch, there is nowhere else in the world where, within two hours of an international airport, you can ski at a world-class alpine resort, play golf, bungy jump, river raft, mountain bike, hot-air balloon, wind surf, whale watch, fly with historic planes and visit internationally-acclaimed wineries and gardens. Christchurch is New Zealand's second largest city and the gateway to the south island. It is also New Zealand’s most “English” city. Dunedin further south is more “Scottish” in nature while Marlborough, Nelson and Canterbury offer the perfect conditions for producing some spectacular wines. You can feel the European touch in this region.

The south island can experience extremes of weather so it is advisable to travel well prepared. The Southern Alps are permanently covered in snow. Rainfall is high in the western parts of the Alps, but noticeably lower to the east whilst both, the Nelson and Marlborough regions are blessed with the highest number of sunshine hours in New Zealand.


The Southern Alps cover two-thirds of the island stretching most of the island’s length and rising to 3,000m and above. The highest peak is Mount Cook [Aoraki] at 3,754m.

The indigenous Maori have two names for the south island. One is Te Waka a Maui – ‘the canoe of Maui’ based around a legend involving the demigod Maui; the second name is Te Wahipounamu or ‘place of greenstone’. The island’s west coast is a highly prized source of the valuable greenstone [nephrite jade] and local artisans can create some truly beautiful items from the substance.

The first European arrival was Dutch navigator Abel Tasman in 1642. The next known was Captain James Cook who anchored at Ship Cove in 1770, then sailed through Cook Strait and down the south island’s east coast.

franz joseph

European seal hunters arrived late in the 18th century and by 1850 British settlements had been established in Nelson, Otago and Canterbury but the interior remained mostly uncharted until the 1860s when gold was discovered. Dunedin then became the country’s largest and wealthiest settlement.

nz-sheepWool and gold first made the south island prosperous and shipping frozen meat to the United Kingdom was first developed in the 19th century. Today sheep and dairy farming, wine production, hydroelectric power, fishing, film, television and tourism are all vital industries in the modern New Zealand.

Keep a lookout when you are riding the twisting roads on the south island, the sheep outnumber the people and they don't have a great deal of road-sense. The sheep, not the people. A helmet full of sheep is not the best way of getting up close and personal with this kind of wildlife!

You could choose to explore the south island using your own imagination and navigation skills by simply renting a motorbike or if you'd like some help and guidance with your route, accommodation and places to visit, you could consider one of our information packages. We can guarantee that you won't fall foul of any Orcs during one of our self-guided tours, unless perhaps you end up playing in a Lord of the Rings experience.