Often the point of arrival or departure for many visitors, Christchurch is a resilient city, ravaged by earthquakes, but retaining a very English atmosphere with its lush Botanic Gardens, parks and the charming River Avon meandering through the city.
Take a punt along the river, a tram through the city or a gondola high above the Canterbury plains, for very different perspectives. And well worth visiting is the famous ‘Cardboard Cathedral’, a transitional structure, a testament to the tussle between heritage and modernity (and necessity).
Canterbury is a region of contrasts. Rugged alpine peaks overlook flat fertile plains, shimmering Pacific Ocean beaches sit next to the incredible Kaikoura Range and fresh blue lakes are bordered by swaying, golden grasslands.
Natural wonders abound in this region: tour the Alpine Pacific Triangle, the spa delights of Hanmer Springs and Kaikoura, a mecca for whale watching.
Linking the Canterbury Plains and the West Coast, in the heart of the Southern Alps is Arthur’s Pass National Park. This is one of New Zealand’s great road trips (also rail – the TranzAlpine train journey does not disappoint).