Head south, away from the wine regions of the north and you cannot miss the expanse of land that Canterbury covers. Home to a wonderful mix of outdoor pursuits and cultural joys the area has something to offer every need. Think of an outdoor adventure and you will probably find it here. Take your pick; there is whale watching, hiking, bungy jumping, jet boating, fishing, mountain biking or why not go golfing or indulge in a vineyard visit? The seat of the region is Christchurch, a city of exploration with a refreshing urban centre full of exciting secrets to uncover. Known as the 'Garden City' thanks to the several fragrant gardens that call it home, it is bordered by lush hills and the fertile Canterbury plains that stretch to the glorious Southern Alps.
The wild waves of the Pacific Ocean's crash onto the shore on the other side of the city. It is a place that has seen some massive changes over the last few years but the city has been renewed in the since the 2011 earthquake. With a renowned and exciting art scene (especially its immersive street art), new architecture, bustling restaurants, cocktail bars, winding lanes as well as plenty of green spaces all add to the ambience of the city. Plus, as it is a coastal city, head to the beach for surfing, kayaking and all of the beachy vibes you might want.
Take the drive from Christchurch to Kaikoura, it's slightly over two hours and well worth it. The seaside settlement can be on a peninsula, jutting out of the rugged east coast, overlooked by majestic mountains; stunning scenery is not in short supply here. Known for its eco-tourism this extraordinary place is also one of the only locations in the world where Sperm whales can be seen almost every day, with a resident pod calling the waters off-shore home. Explore the Kaikoura Peninsula walkway, it winds from the town centre to lookout points such as Point Kean, keep an eye out for the fur seals that call this point home (although they won't be hard to miss).
Journeying through the region will take you past many of its natural wonders, Mount Cook National Park is home to the two largest mountains in New Zealand, Aoraki or Mount Cook and Mount Tasman. Intrepid mountaineering skills are not a requirement to be able to interact with these beautifully harsh landscapes, there are many hikes to suit all abilities. The Tasman glacier in all of its glittering glory is well worth a visit too.