New Zealand’s South Island is truly a fantasy land full of natural wonders. Unlike any other place on Earth, the diversity will simply blow you away – you can be on a wild driftwood-strewn beach gazing out at teal blue waves in the morning, and by afternoon, staring up at a glacier. The next day, you might hike through a rainforest and then find yourself surrounded by dramatic mountains where waterfalls spill down the cliffs in every direction. Venture toward Queenstown, and you might think you’ve somehow landed in the Scottish Highlands. Of course, the question isn’t whether to go, but where to stay, at these Airbnbs offer some of the very best options.
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For the ultimate escape at a reasonable price, book this incredible two-bedroom apartment where you can fall asleep to the sounds of the waves and enjoy walks on one of New Zealand’s most spectacular beaches, complete with sea stacks and the opportunity to spot wildlife like seals and even the occasional blue penguin too. It sits in a more tranquil spot, away from the tourist hub of Punakaiki, yet just a scenic 20-minute drive away. Nestled in the native bush, it’s surrounded by colorful flowers in the spring while a waterfall cascades down the hill right next door. You’ll have everything you need to cook your own meals and a cozy woodstove too. Just don’t make the mistake of booking only one night – you’re guaranteed to regret it.
There may be no better place for a couple or solo traveler to stay in Queenstown than this. Located a 20-minute water taxi ride from the touristy hustle and bustle in residential Kelvin Heights, it offers an incredibly relaxing stay with all sorts of special touches. Truly stunning, it includes antique furnishings and an ultra-comfy bed (lavender sachets under the pillows make for an even better night’s sleep), but the highlight is its magical ambiance overlooking Lake Wakatipu – you’ll be able to wake up to that view every morning and walk the trail that follows the shoreline just out your door. There’s a Mediterranean-style outdoor Pergola with a rustic table and chairs for outdoor dining, a BBQ grill, kitchenette with a microwave, toaster and kettle, and even a washer/dryer.
This self-contained studio apartment that sleeps up to two is just a minute from the beach, overlooking sand dunes on one side and a pool on the other. Look forward to watching both sunrises and sunsets here. It includes a queen-size bed facing the dunes separated by the living space with an open bookcase and comes stocked with breakfast foods like eggs, cereals, yogurt and bread, as well as condiments. Sky TV and Wi-Fi, a small BBQ are included too. Guests can also access a heated indoor pool, sauna, hot outdoor showers and bikes for exploring the area.
This two-bedroom cottage enjoys picturesque water views on the Kelvin Heights Peninsula in Queenstown, perfectly situated for walking and riding the network of trails to Queenstown as well as accessing a beach for a swim during the warmer months of the year. There’s a sunny deck for al fresco dining and sipping your morning coffee, and a garden that’s in bloom nearly year-round. It sleeps up to four guests in two bedrooms, which are connected internally or accessed independently through French doors off the deck.
Built in 2018, the studio Deluxe Tree Lodge sits among the lush rainforest in Franz Josef, providing easy access to glacier hikes, flightseeing adventures and more. It comes with a spacious deck where you’ll be surrounded by nature, along with a king and a single bed, as well as a large en-suite bathroom with a rain shower and underfloor heating. There’s a kitchenette, Nespresso machine and Smart TV, and guests get a Continental breakfast basket too.
Stewart Island sits less than 20 miles south off the South Island and offers one of the best opportunities to see the kiwi in its natural habitat as well as the rare yellow-eyed penguin. Enjoy fantastic bird watching and hiking over 170 miles of hiking trails, and an ideal stay at Lonnekers Beach. It offers beachfront accommodation for up to eight in four bedrooms and even includes an eight-seater van plus fuel.
EcoScapes is just across the lake from Glenorchy at the edge of Lake Wakatipu, boasting a stunning mountain backdrop for an especially peaceful retreat. There are two guest units, designed around an incredible view that can be enjoyed from the sofa, bed or veranda. Each one includes an in-room projector, tablet, AppleTV, Netflix, a Tivoli clock radio and Bluetooth sound system. There’s a hot tub, restaurant and small shop on-site.
The Omarama Oasis offers “HomeGrown Glamping in a full Permaculture garden.” You’ll be surrounded by gardens, nut and fruit trees, enjoying overnights in an Emperor Tent with a queen-size bed that sits next to a bubbling stream, totally immersed in nature. It’s just over a third of a mile to the beach, while Kahurangi and Abel Tasman National Parks are at your doorstep.
This unique option offers overnights in restored Cob Quarters with an outdoor shower and baths, set above the Waihopai River with beautiful views of the mountains. Enjoy the historic charm and traditional high country hospitality along with separate sleeping and living spaces. It accommodates up to six, with a spacious bedroom that includes a queen bed and four natural timber bunks. Look forward to relaxing by the open fire and gazing out at mountains from the rear veranda, which offers BBQ gas cooking too. Take a short walk down the path to the heated outdoor shower on a ledge that overlooks the river and soak in the gas-fired hot baths while gazing up at the stars.
This rustic retreat is literally right on the edge, with the crashing waves almost close enough to touch. It offers a blend of modern and retro, with many treasures from a bygone era along with Wi-Fi, Apple TV/Netflix and Bluetooth speakers. It sleeps up to three with two beds – and, a portion of every booking will be donated to the West Coast Penguin Trust.