Getting There, Christchurch
Well, if you are coming from the North Island, I do recommend taking the Inter Islander Ferry. The scenery is lovely and I saw dolphins!!! Dolphins!!! Yes, you read that right. Anyway, you can then take the train from Picton to Christchurch, on which trip the scenery is also very good. A lot of the trip is right along the coast and I saw seals!! Seals!!! Yes, you read that right. The trains I took in NZ were generally fairly empty, and you can get pretty good fares for the backpacker cars which are very comfortable.