Whale Watching, Kaikoura
Concierge.com's insider take:
Off the northeast coastal town of Kaikoura (about a two-and-a-half-hour drive north of Christchurch) lies a deep underwater canyon, where hordes of giant sperm whales congregate year-round to feed. These massive creatures—they're the world's largest carnivores—can be 60 feet long and weigh 70 tons, and seeing them up close is awe-inspiring (some actually have scars from undersea battles with giant squid). Whale Watch Kaikoura, owned by a local Maori group, the Ngai Tahu, takes groups of up to 48 people out on cushy catamarans for daily three-and-a-half-hour trips (weather permitting) to see and learn about the whales. Depending on the season, passengers can also see right and humpback whales, orcas, and Dusky and Hector's dolphins (these last are the world's smallest, rarest variety). If you're a green-around-the-gills type, bring Dramamine—it can get rough out there (64-3-319-6767; www.whalewatch.co.nz).