Five free (and easy) things to do in the South Island

The thing about our country, if you’re a tourist, is that it will squeeze you for all you’re worth. That said, there are still things to see and do for free (and if you’re the outdoorsy type, there are countless trails and parks and beaches to explore). And as one commenter pointed out, they don’t have to be particularly taxing. Heck, some of them are even wheelchair-friendly.

Write your name on the rocks at Byron Bay on the West Coastbruce bay names on rocks

We drove past this beach, marvelling at all the smooth white pebbles –  and it took a few seconds to click to the fact that they all had writing on them. Travellers have apparently been carving their names into the rocks for years, or writing on them using markers. We had neither a permanent marker nor knife with which to scratch the date and our initials, sadly.

Explore the trails in Mt Aspiring National Park

mt aspiring national park thunder creek falls trailThere’s no shortage of spots to do so. Lots of smaller/shorter ones can be found toward the top end around Haast.

Check out the Catlinscatlins, nugget point lookout

The Catlin coast at the southern end of the country is home to seals, penguins and other wildlife. You probably won’t be rubbing noses with them, but seeing them in their natural habitat is truly awe inspiring.

Pub crawl in Queenstown
pub crawl in queenstown

Pick up an attraction brochure (probably a Jasons one) in Queenstown and you’ll see ads for a couple of different pub crawls.

Think along the lines of six free drinks, free food and plenty of company.

Marvel at the raw power – and beauty – of the pancake rocks

pancake rocks

I’m pretty sure my mouth was agape for the entire time it took us to walk around this clifftop track. At high tide, the ocean rushes into the channels, throwing sea spray all up the sides, and blows off pressure through the naturally formed blowholes. And you’ll probably encounter some friendly native birds!

8 thoughts on “Five free (and easy) things to do in the South Island

  • Reply Amber October 13, 2012 at 03:38

    Omg those photos are incredibly beautiful! So much natural beauty!

  • Reply Linda October 13, 2012 at 05:22

    I’ve been enjoying reading about your trip, and I have to confess that this entry is my favorite. Not because it features free things so much as it features low-barrier of entry things. I know it may seem like that means the same thing, but it doesn’t. See, I’d love to travel to NZ some day and see the beautiful South Island as part of that trip. But, I don’t ski or snowboard, and I’m afraid of being up high and falling, so all these excursions you took would have scared the crap out of me or been something I wouldn’t sign up to do in the first place, even if they were free. But walking along a beach to write my name on rocks, spying on animals with binoculars, and hiking along easy trails are totally do-able for me. 🙂 Thanks for documenting your trip so thoroughly. I know how much work that takes!

    • Reply eemusings October 13, 2012 at 10:00

      Ha! That totally makes sense. I might amend the title to “free AND easy things” – which is really what I’m all about too.

  • Reply Incredible Cool Weather Roundup | Funny about Money October 14, 2012 at 16:02

    […] with a whole series of posts describing her travels, complete with adventures and photos. Start here and scroll back through the amazing […]

  • Reply Untemplater October 15, 2012 at 12:03

    Wow pancake rocks, those are sweet!!! The Catlins look beautiful too, they remind me of the coasts here. I went for a hike yesterday and saw about 8 seals swimming around and sunbathing on the rocks. It’s amazing seeing wildlife so close!

  • Reply Yakezie (@Yakezie) October 16, 2012 at 11:16

    Whatcha think, cruise around Australia and NZ, or fly there and get more immersed? So much to see, so little time! Sam

    • Reply eemusings October 16, 2012 at 11:21

      Love fortuitous concidences! And you know I’m all about synergy (I actually used that word in a conversation the other day / shudder).

      I’ve never had any reason to look into cruises around here, but could be a good move – stop in at Auckland, head down the country through to the likes of Milford … Depends on the stops on offer, and the kinds of things you’d like to do! We should brainstorm an itinerary.

  • Reply Yakezie (@Yakezie) October 16, 2012 at 11:17

    Hey cool, just noticed a circle around my circular Avatar. How do you like that for design synergy?!

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