Otahuna Lodge is a reason to visit the area. The epitome of a grand old lady and superbly renovated by the current owners, the lodge is south of Christchurch. The kitchen has one of the top reputations in the country. A lovely, gracious, and relaxed place.
For something totally different, we're fans of Lake Heron Station and its 20,000 hectares of stunning remote land backing into the Southern Alps. The accommodation is a tastefully renovated shearer's cottage, but the magic here is spending time with the owners, not only for dinner, but discovering their land and lifestyle.
The Akaroa Peninsula is a fun place to visit although not a lot remains of its French heritage. The Hector dolphins (world's smallest dolphin) are cute, and the landscapes are beautiful.