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These are some of my favourite lesser known/less commercialized places that you should visit when exploring the South Island of New Zealand.

Clay Cliff Lane

You can drive past this on the state highway and not even notice it. It isn’t until you get up close that you discover the sheer beauty and size of these clay cliffs.

To get there you will be driving on a gravel road so be prepared for that! We went in the middle of summer and only saw 4 other people on the track. It is an easy walk and you can climb right up and around the cliffs.

The Ahuriri river runs right next to the cliffs and the whole place is a photographers dreams! There’s also a hot pools about 12 minutes up the road.

The Lost Gypsy Gallery

If this is the only thing you do down south, then I can promise that you will be happy!

This place blew my mind. It is basically one massive interactive art installation. The inner child of one man and his friends who have spent years creating art that just makes you smile.

You can view the inside of the bus for free. Which gives you a small indication of what is to come. For $5 you won’t be disappointed! I don’t want to give too much away because it really is a treat once you enter the property.

While you are there, treat yourself to hot chocolate because they are delicious.

Hokitika Gorge

People tend to opt for the Blue Pools because it is so famous. This is the other end of that river.

It is less crowded, easy to access, a beautiful drive and photography heaven.

There are a lot of mosquitos here during summer so be sure to bring some bug repellent and something to swim in!


Queenstown is a tourist hotspot, but if you continue driving around the lake and past Queenstown you are going to experience one of the best drives in the country!

While there be sure to check out the infamous red shed, walk the blue lagoon loop track, stay at Mrs. Wolly’s campground and just explore!

I will definitely be going back here sometime soon.

Wharariki Beach

If you visit this spot you will be able to say you have visited the top of the South Island.

The view is breathtaking and there was no one around as we explored the different lookout points.

If you drive further along you can even ride horses along the beach.

Nugget Point Lighthouse

Driving the Catlins is an absolute must!

Nugget Point Lighthouse is just one of the stops along the way. You park up and walk along the track – which at certain times of the year, you might be lucky enough to see some seals and penguins.

Then you can walk all around the Lighthouse and feel the power of a southerly wind.

Milford Sound

Milford sound is extremely commercialized. Yes, it is worth doing, but be prepared that it is very very rare to get a clear day.

What people don’t realize is how much there is to stop and see when driving to Milford.

If you see lots of cars pulled over, then pull over too. You won’t be disappointed!

*A Queenstown local told us that Doubtful Sound is the better one to do. It’s bigger but just less commercial. Let me know if you have done both and what your opinion is.

About Kassey

27-year-old teacher. Currently living in New Zealand with aspirations to travel the world and photograph it all.

27-year-old teacher. Currently living in New Zealand with aspirations to travel the world and photograph it all.

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