Reflections of the Southern Alps on Okarito Lagoon on the West Coast

The best of the South Island – from our Kiwi Guides

We asked our Kiwi Guides Helen, Tim and Andrew where their favourite places in the South Island are. Hear their picks and see pictures from recent South Island trips.

New Zealand’s South Island is an amazing landscape. Where else in the world can you find so much in such a concentrated area: rainforests, alpine peaks and glaciers, fiords, braided rivers, rugged coastline, glacial lakes and golden sand beaches, all under the watchful eye of the stunning Southern Alps.

It’s impossible to visit the South Island and not be left in awe, even after decades of guiding our Kiwi Guides still feel the same way.

But where would you go if you had to choose one spot in the South Island? Where would you tell a friend or family member to visit if they’re going for the first time?

A tough question indeed and to help answer it we’ve brought in some of our resident experts, Helen, Tim and Andrew from the MoaTours Kiwi Guide team.

These guys are some of New Zealand’s most experienced guides and they have been leading tours all over the South Island for decades so we really wanted to hear their favourite spots in the South Island. 

Molesworth Station – Kiwi Guide Helen’s favourite spot in the South Island

Molesworth Station has the honour of being New Zealand’s largest farm, and it certainly fits the bill of being off the beaten track. Located behind the inland Kaikoura mountains, Molesworth is over 1,800 sq km in size and supports New Zealand’s largest herd of cattle. Hanmer Springs is the closest access point and the best spot to explore Molesworth from.

Why Helen loves Molesworth Station

Whenever I visit Molesworth I’m reminded about how grand the landscapes are in the South Island and what an effect that has had on the lives of generations working there. Visiting Molesworth is not so easy for many people, it’s definitely off the beaten track, but everyone I’ve ever taken there has always loved it – and been very grateful they didn’t try to make the journey in their own car!

What do our guests say about Molesworth Station?

“A wonderful itinerary, exploring a piece of New Zealand that I have not been to before. However, if I was to choose my favourite experiences it would have to be the trip to Molesworth Station, our drive through the Lewis Pass and the Farewell Spit tour. Each area was so vastly different from the other and a reminder of the very unique nature of the country we live in.”
Barbara & John Reid, Jan 2021

Visit Molesworth Station with MoaTours

Molesworth Station is the headliner on our 7 day Molesworth Station, Abel Tasman & Golden Bay tour – a real highlights reel of the top of the South Island.

See recent pictures from Molesworth Station tours 

Doubtful Sound – Kiwi Guide Tim’s favourite place in the South Island

Tucked deep down in the South Western corner of New Zealand, Patea Doubtful Sound is one of our true wilderness gems. Even getting there is an adventure. Accessible only by boat across Lake Manapouri and then the remote Wilmot Pass road, you’re well off the beaten track and in the heart of Fiordland.

It is possible to do a day trip from Queenstown, but this is no place to rush through so when we visit, we always stay overnight on the “Fiordland Navigator” with the friendly hosts from Real Journeys.

Of all the places we visit all over New Zealand on our tours, the overnight stay in Doubtful Sound is one which guests always tell us they will never forget.

Why Tim loves Doubtful Sound

Whenever I go to Doubtful Sound I feel like I’m about as far away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life as I can be anywhere in New Zealand. It’s a truly spectacular place and to enjoy it in such solitude is good for the soul! The Navigator has been done up recently and it’s super comfortable and we’re always looked after so well. Being out on the Sound together is always one of the best time for the group too.

What do our guests say about Doubtful Sound?

“It was a wonderful tour and every day was full of amazing sights and places of interest. It was amazing how many beautiful places we saw. The trip to Doubtful Sound and the time there was an experience never to be forgotten.”
Judy Somerville, April 2021

Visit Doubtful Sound with MoaTours

We only have one tour which visits Doubtful Sound, our 7 day Doubtful Sound & West Coast Odyssey. As well as an unforgettable overnight cruise on Doubtful Sound, you’ll explore Wanaka and the West Coast too.

See recent pictures from Doubtful Sound tours 

Okarito – Kiwi Guide Andrew’s favourite spot in the South Island

Okarito on the West Coast of the South Island is a magic little spot about 12km off the main road just north of Franz Josef Glacier.

There’s so much about Okarito to love and for anyone that hasn’t been there it’s an absolute must. It’s like a little microcosm of New Zealand in one place – a beautiful rugged beach fringed with rainforest, views of the Southern Alps, rich stories from both Māori and European folklore and home to some of our rarest native wildlife.

What Andrew loves about Okarito

I’ve been visiting Okarito for years and I still get excited every time I go. Turning off the highway to follow that winding road down to Okarito feels like travelling back in time. If there’s a single moment that captures Okarito for me, it’s being out on the lagoon with our mate and Okarito local guide Swade, watching the Kotuku (White Heron) gracefully catching its lunch to a backdrop of the Southern Alps. It’s times like this I feel lucky to be a Kiwi!

What do our guests say about Okarito?

“I would highly recommend this tour. There were so many highlights for me but if I had to choose one I would say Okarito Lagoon. Cruising across in perfect weather. The amazing reflections and silent stillness gave it an ‘other worldly’ feel. The trip is over but wonderful memories remain.”
Pauline Davis, April 2021

Visit Okarito with MoaTours

Guides and guests always love their time on Okarito, it’s always one of the best memories of any trip to the West Coast. We call in and say hi to the locals in Okarito on our Karamea & Wild West Coast 7 day tour.

See pictures from recent Okarito tours 

Visit the South Island this year

There are so many amazing places, people and experiences all over the South Island that will make it one of your most memorable trips ever. Year after year we hear from guests telling us they had such a great time and they wished they’d visited sooner.

We hope you enjoyed hearing our Kiwi Guides’ words and pictures from their favourite places in the South Island and this has inspired you to make your own South Island adventure. Whether you’re visiting for the very first time or revisiting places from your past, there is always somewhere new to discover and magical memories to be created.

To find out more see all our South Island tours here or visit this page for trip departure dates and live availability.

Ka kite anō! 

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