New Zealand's South Island is the crown jewel of the Southern Hemisphere. 14 hours from top to bottom and 5 from side to side, it's a tiny area that's packed with the full range of natural beauty you'd typically find spread across the entirety of a much larger continent. The western spine is a continuous mountain range while its interior boasts the same rolling hills and endless farmland that makes the North Island so delightful.
My first impression after flying into Christchurch, located on the east coast, was one of slight disappointment. The city had a bit of a weird layout to it, mixing a sort of glittery casino effect similar to Reno with a more small-town feel. It wasn't until speaking to a local friend that I realized the 2011 earthquake had almost leveled the downtown and it still carries the structural ghosts of that devastation.