Gorgeous Banks Peninsula (Horomaka) was formed by two giant volcanic eruptions about eight million years ago. Harbours and bays radiate out from the peninsula’s centre, giving it an unusual cogwheel shape. The historic town of Akaroa, 80km from Christchurch, is a highlight, as is the absurdly beautiful drive along Summit Rd around the edge of one of the original craters. It's also worth exploring the little bays that dot the peninsula's perimeter.
The waters around Banks Peninsula are home to the smallest and one of the rarest dolphin species, the Hector’s dolphin, found only in NZ waters. A range of tours depart from Akaroa to spot these and other sealife, including white-flippered penguins, orcas and seals.