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CANTERBURY

Christchurch itself is of interest from an architectural perspective - how innovative design has filled gaps left by the earthquake amidst some historic buildings, but the real beauty here is in the countryside. Head for the mountains for some lovely Canterbury enormous high country stations (farms), or out to the Akaroa Peninsula for some rolling coastal beauty.

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.