One of the top recommended things to do on the East coast of South Island is to take a trip to Banks Peninsula and Akaroa, an hour drive from Christchurch.
Akaroa is a simple slow paced French village, with the main stretch running no more than 500m down a road. French influence is still visible with road names and shops continuing to use French words such as Rue as well as the annual French festival in October.
The coastline and harbour are incredible, however due to it being a rainy day the idea of exploring a lot of it became limited and headed to nearby campsite to set up for the night. But apparently the area is home to many marine wildlife such as penguins, dolphins and seals which you can see on tourist boat cruises or by kayaking.