Riverside Market, Christchurch. © ChristchurchNZ

Editor's Picks: the top 5 things to do in the Upper South Island


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Check out our AA Traveller Guides Editor's picks of the top 5 experiences not to be missed in the Upper South Island!

1. Queen Charlotte Track

The Queen Charlotte Track boasts stunning bush and incredible views in a lovely climate. Hike or bike this 72km/three to five-day track skimming the coastline, making pauses for swims almost mandatory. There are many entry points accessible by boat, which can also transport kayaks and mountain bikes.  

2. Motueka Sunday Market

The Motueka Sunday Market is where great local purveyors convene. Discover a mecca of seasonal produce, hand-spun crafts and flea market bargains. Every Sunday, 8am-1pm.

3. Punakāiki Pancake Rocks

A series of rocks that resemble stacked pancakes, albeit ‘made’ 30 million years ago. The famous Pancake Rocks are joined by erupting blowholes and a ferocious surge pool called the Devil's Cauldron.

4. Kaikōura Whale Watching

Giant sperm whales are present all year round at Kaikōura as are dolphins, seals and penguins. Depending on the season there are albatross and additional whale species to be spotted, too. See it all from boat tours, small planes or kayaks. 

5. Riverside Market, Christchurch

Riverside Market is an unmissable seven-day indoor farmers’ market fronting the banks of the Ōtakaro Avon River. Foodies will be enthralled by charismatic chefs, food choice and purveyors. 

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Kayak Queen Charlotte Sound

The Marlborough Sounds are made up of more than 1,500 kilometres of intricate waterways. The inlets, islets, capes and coves here are best explored by water on a sea kayak.  Read the story . . . 

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Adventure time: whale watching from above in Kaikōura

With some of the deepest water, closest to shore in the world, Kaikōura is visited by a vast array of marine life – including magnificent whales.  Read the story . . . 

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Food and drink

Urban explorer: Christchurch CBD

Even longest-term residents of Christchurch are just finding their way in the shiny new streets of the post-quake city.  Read the story . . . 

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Get outdoors

Punakāiki Pancake Rocks: geological marvel

Funny that Māori should have had a word that sounded so much like the English word for ‘pancakes’. Read the story . . . 

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