Those that follow the British & Irish Lions to New Zealand in 2017 will quickly be greeted by enough greenery to put an English country garden to shame.
New Zealand’s oldest city Christchurch is known as the garden city due to its 740 parks that cover approximately 3,000ha.
Canterbury, New Zealand’s largest region, is home to the country’s highest mountain Aoraki Mt Cook, situated in the Aoraki Cook national park – a world-renowned hiking destination.
Glaciers cover 40 per cent of the park and there are 23 peaks over 3,000m. Mount Cook village, at the bottom of the mountain, is a base for climbers and hikers.
In the air, on water or in the mountains, Canterbury is an adventure and nature haven of unique outdoor experiences.
Huge sperm whales cruise the Kaikoura coast and the world’s only alpine parrots – the cheeky kea – entertain tourists at Arthur’s Pass national park.
Cruises from Akaroa – an old French town – encounter seabirds, seals and white-flippered blue penguins, while some tours offer the chance to swim with dolphins, that can be found playing in Akaroa harbour.
Canterbury is also one of New Zealand’s finest ballooning locations, while mountain biking and hiking trails, trout and salmon fishing, jet boating, bungy jumping and quad biking are all available to whet the appetite of adrenaline junkies.
A well-earned rest can be sought at Hanmer Springs’ thermal pools and spa, where visitors can relax in thermal sulphur and hot rock pools.
At 1.8km, the Rakaia Bridge is the longest in the southern hemisphere, but those that prefer to seek their entertainment indoors will find a vibrant arts scene.
Christchurch Art Gallery draws on the best of New Zealand and international artists in ever-changing exhibitions.
Canterbury Museum is renowned for its imaginative displays of some of the best historical, cultural and natural collections in the South Pacific.
And the Court Theatre is New Zealand's foremost professional theatre company, while Ko Tane – the Living Maori Village and Nga Hau E Wha National Marae – both offer Maori cultural experiences.