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Kiwi towns

New Zealand pretty as a picture NZ, 10 South Island small towns

  • 4 minutes

St Bathans, Otago

Picturesque kiwi towns places to go

Stunning mountain scenery in Arrowtown, Victorian legacy buildings in Geraldine, picturesque Marlborough Sounds introduction to Picton and wild west driftwood beaches in Hokitika, the South Island has glorious small towns. Every town adds to the richness of things to do and see. For more details about the kiwi towns check Kiwi Towns for nearby attractions and events.

Sunset view of Picton memorial park in New Zealand
Sunset view of Picton memorial park

Eye-catching Marlborough Sounds with its intricate waterways adds depth to the picturesque port town of Picton, South Island. New Zealand’s inter island ferry docks in Picton providing many visitors with an impressive view of the small town from the Sounds. Hospitality is the core of Picton’s livelihood and it is very evident on the main street with cafes, galleries and pop up stalls. The attractive foreshore is a great place to kick off the shoes and chill out watching the world go by. Keep the eyes peeled and watch for dolphins in the harbour… learn more Marlborough things to do, attractions, places to go.


Discover a gold mining heritage in Reefton. The sense of free for all adds a wild west feel to Reefton’s historic buildings. There are plenty of things to do in the main street from gold panning, visiting a replica coal mining tunnel at the local visitor centre or finding a skateboard to practice your skills. One of New Zealand’s finest skateboard parks is in Reefton. The charming Victorian streetscape of Reefton is augmented by stunning conservation parks. Reefton, a gateway to South Island, New Zealand is the perfect introduction to one of the South Island’s scenic mountain passes, the Lewis Pass… learn more about an exciting road trip Upper South Island loop road trip, reefton Kaikoura… Nelson.

Reefton main street, New Zealand
Reefton main street
Hokitika's clock tower, West Coast, New Zealand
Hokitika's clock tower

It’s fun when a town creates a brand from a copious supply of driftwood. The wild west coast ocean beach sports a sign, Hokitika. There is even a driftwood festival in town. Hokitika is quaint with its heritage gold rush era buildings and instagram worthy Clock Tower. The beautiful little town is the proud supporter of the craft of pounamu (jade) carving (jewelry, decorative objects). The traditional Maori skill is part of the town’s identity creating a uniquely Aotearoa New Zealand visitor experience… the pretty town has a number of attractions nearby including the stunning Hokitika Gorge, one of New Zealand’s top sights … learn more Hokitika what to see and where to go – Best Bits.


Discover a quiet backwater with an outstanding collection of historic buildings and heritage sites. Unwrap charming Geraldine. Delve into Geraldine’s flourishing arts scene and heritage buildings as you explore mid Canterbury attractions. Find an ideal place to explore the Inland scenic route 72. Take a break in Geraldine if you’re heading south towards the Mackenzie Country, Aoraki Mt Cook, Queenstown and the Southern Lakes… learn more about Geraldine things to do & see – Best Bits.

Geraldine Historical Society Museum, Canterbury, New Zealand
Geraldine Historical Society Museum
Original harbour buildings Oamaru, New Zealand
Old harbour street in Oamaru

Uncover an authentic Victorian precinct while exploring the imaginative fantasy steampunk world of vintage parts, glorious costumes and amusing commentary. Nature is on show with blue penguins waddling home past visitors and Duntroon geological rock landscape a short trip away. Combine with a trip to another Victorian showpiece, Timaru and enjoy time spent in mid-Canterbury… and here are Oamaru’s twenty attractions, things to do.


French-ness in Akaroa is defined by its Aotearoa New Zealand identity where the perfect pastry is married with a hillside cute town surrounded by charming 19th cottages. Picture postcard stuff has fostered a flourishing hospitality sector offering quirky things from the Giant’s House to a children’s walk. For everybody interested in conservation swimming with the local dolphins is a highlight for any New Zealand holiday. Charming Akaroa is worth the winding hilly drive from the regional hub, Christchurch… learn more 10 holiday ideas for families in Akaroa, what to do & see: Best Bits.

Ōnuku, with a historic church meeting house, Akaroa, New Zealand
Wanaka selfie location #thatwanakatree, summer lake level is low, South Island, New Zealand
Wanaka selfie location #thatwanakatree, summer lake level is low, South Island

Deep blue glacier fed Lake Wanaka is staggeringly beautiful. The town, nestled in the Southern Alps is exquisite with its autumn feel, fall bronzed colours or the spring glow. Hospitality is at the core of Wanaka’s spirit yet the unspoiled town is not a bastien of high priced adventure sports rather the laid back small town feel reaches back into the origins of New Zealand hospitality with its focus on the beauty of the outdoors and the natural setting influencing the pace of activities. For a touch of the Southern Alps, New Zealand look no further than Wanaka Travel Guide – Tips for Wanaka Trip – Best Bits, New Zealand’s lake district.


Brilliant foliage in autumn framing a Victorian main street is a visual treat for visitors. The town is adorable. It’s boisterous neighbour Queenstown cannot compete in the pretty as a picture stakes with Arrowtown. The laid back charm of Arrowtown has not been lost in the competition for the tourist dollar. The mountains, the gold mining frenzy of the 19th century fostering the town’s settlement and the sheer beauty of the surrounding district as well as the heritage feel is stunning. Arrowtown is a must-go destination with a wealth of attractions and places to go … learn more Arrowtown travel guide, trip activities, what to do & see: Best Bits.

Arrowtown Buckingham Street, New Zealand
Arrowtown Buckingham Street
St Bathans former police camp now accommodation, New Zealand
St Bathans

Find an evocative, remote and visually stunning high country landscape of tussock and rolling folded hills, St Bathans is extraordinary. The settlement has less than a dozen people yet visitors linger to view the stone buildings, have a drink and enjoy a pie in the local pub and walk around a lake created by massive sluice guns that virtually wiped away a hill during the height of the gold mining era … learn more Day trip to St Bathans, Central Otago, guide & itinerary: Best Bits.


Discover a town where street art narrates the settlement’s story of pre-European Maori occupation, of whaling and fishing. The river with its fishing fleet, the sea and the Victorian / Edwardian buildings and quiet rural aspect are intriguing. The attractive town is a perfect mix of culture, history, and adventure. From various galleries, historic sites, two heritage trails as well as the fantastic Te Hikoi Museum. There’s a reason Riverton is called the “Riviera of the South” as it is surrounded by bays and beaches and makes for a perfect family day out … learn more about What’s so great about Riverton: best things to do and see.

Riverton street art, New Zealand
Riverton street art


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