Day 19 was one of our favorite days, and yet I have ZERO pictures from it. All I can say is, if you make it to New Zealand, I highly recommend rafting on the Rangitata River with Rangitata Rafts. The location is awesome. Far, far down a scenic road is this cottage with a huge porch and big yard where all the river guides seem to live. Rangitata's guides are super professional and organized. After providing lunch on their porch, they got right to business getting us ready to head out to the river. They did a great job of getting the group comfortable on smaller rapids, before tackling the big guys! We rafted two Class V rapids that our raft made it through without falling out, but some of the other rafts in the group weren't so lucky. Because I feel safe in the water, I wasn't ever really that scared, but it was still quite a rush! We also had opportunities for cliff jumping and they let us swim down a couple of slightly less intimidating rapids, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Being less than 2 hours from Christchurch, the Rangitata River is a perfect day trip. They actually have a shuttle that picks you up and takes you back to Christchurch (we obviously didn't do that because we were coming from the west and had our campervan, but it's an option). We had trouble finding a place to park our campervan that night, because of the holiday week. Our plan was to stay in the Peel Forest, but they were booked. We were tired and drove around a bunch (after stopping at the Peel Forest Store for a much needed ice cream bar!) and finally found a spot to camp at Orari campground. There are several little DOC campgrounds in the area, but they are spread out. I would advise having a plan here if you are coming during this one week of the year. Otherwise, you would probably have no trouble getting a spot in Peel Forest without reservations.
By Day 20, we were getting pretty tired of being in the car, so our plan to drive out to the Banks Peninsula might have been a bit ambitious (and when I say our plan, I really mean my plan). A lot of people make the Banks Peninsula a day trip from Christchurch or spend a couple days there enjoying some no doubt incredible hiking trails (I hear the views are amazing, but where aren't they amazing in New Zealand!) We were heading to the little French colony of Akaroa for one night before heading to Christchurch for New Year's Eve. On our way, we stopped at Barry's Bay Cheese Factory and sat outside for our picnic lunch.
When we got to Akaroa, my allergies were awful (they had been pretty bad most of the trip), there were a ton of tourists in town (probably day-tripping from Christchurch) and it was threatening to rain. Note to anyone who suffers from allergies, bring allergy medicine with you to New Zealand! We had the hardest time finding a pharmacy. And don't worry, there is a pharmacy in Akaroa but it was closed that day! Needless to say, I was having a difficult time enjoying this quaint, beautiful town on the water. We walked around a bit, stuck our feet in the water, and then decided to just sit outside in the yard of one of the cutest cafes I've ever been to - The Stables - and share a flat white while casually people watching.