Choosing seven destinations in this New Zealand paradise is difficult at best. There are so many once-in-a-lifetime possibilities on South Island, visitors ought to stay for about a year just to scratch the surface.
1. Akaroa has been referred to as a “French-inspired settlement” on travel sites. Colonial architecture and the stunning natural beauty of the area are two reasons to visit there. It is a cruise ship port with galleries, cafes and craft shops and it is about 90 minutes from Christchurch.
2. Hanmer Springs Ski Area has thermal pools and a spa since it is on natural hot springs. That is really all anyone needs to know, but it is recommended for beginning and intermediate skiers and boarders. The family activity pool with water slides and toys keeps the younger ones occupied and moving. Mineral-rich water, warm soaks; what else is there to think about?
3. 4×4 Adventures in Christchurch provides a chauffeured, guided tour of film locations from The Lord of the Rings, Middle Earth. Scenes from the Narnia films were shot here as well. These all-terrain SUVs take tourists to places they would not see any other way. Volumes could be written about this tour, but remember these perks: glaciers, deep blue lakes, glacial streams, mountains, waterfalls, gorges, rapids, glaciated valleys, native bush, exotic wild animals in natural habitats and no timetable. That about covers it.
4. Tours of any kind known to man are available here, and good luck deciding on one. Walking in various kinds of natural locales, motorcycling, golf tours, fishing, bicycling, mountain biking, small planes, helicopters, rafting, bus, four-wheel drive tours, skiing and yacht charters are the options. Tours go anywhere around South Island that is worth seeing, and that would include the whole island.
5. Akaroa Harbor Nature Cruises is one tour not on the first list. The large Black Cat catamaran takes visitors around the harbor to see Hector’s dolphins, fur seals, sea birds and penguins. The volcanic formation of Cathedral Cave is part of the tour, and Maori relics and items from New Zealand colonial history will be on view. A working salmon farm is also on the cruise route.
6. Christchurch City: Possibly the most tranquil and pleasant activity that harks back to old England is the Punt at City Landing. Cambridge-style poling punts with velvet cushions carry passengers down the lovely Avon River for a half hour ride of serenity and beauty. The Botanic Gardens enhance the scenic views with lush greenery. The cleanest, purest, untreated and naturally filtered, highest-quality water in the world is right here in Christchurch, so drink up.
7. Milford Sound, Christchurch, is a good example of the sheer, stark beauty of New Zealand. Any boat ride, tour or cruise on the sound is well worth the time, effort and money.
Procure flights to Christchurch without delay. This list of seven destinations is just the beginning of the adventure, and there are many more attractions in the arts and the culture to explore.