Extending along the western length of the South Island and dividing the landmass in two, the Southern Alps - or Ngā Pukemāeroero in Maori - is the country's longest and highest mountain range. Adventure holidays here encompass everything life in New Zealand offers.
Crammed with awe-inspiring peaks, ice-blue glaciers, verdant rainforests, volcanic lakes and sparkling rivers, this is a true outdoor enthusiast's paradise, and comes loaded with National Parks, ski resorts, welcoming towns and outdoor activity hubs that place an excess of adventurous opportunities right at your fingertips.
Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Skiing and Snowboarding
New Zealand's ski season runs from June till October, making it a great southern-hemi ski option during Europe's summer months. The Southern Alps is where it's at, with Mount Hutt the best known ski area in New Zealand - expect terrain to suit everyone from first-times to pro-skiers, plus the country's longest snow season.
If you're staying in Christchurch and fancy a day on the slopes, the Selwyn Six ski area is the nearest to the city and can be reached in just over an hour; of the six areas on offer here, Mount Cheeseman is best for families and Mount Olympus offers serious backcountry skiing.
Other Southern Alps options include Mackenzie Country - at 1725m, one of New Zealand's highest ski areas - and Mount Lyford, in North Canterbury, which is so close to the ocean, you can ski and surf in the same day.
For off-piste purists, heli-skiing is big business in the Southern Alps and, if your wallet allows, an experience not to be missed.
Or 'hiking' as you probably know it, is one of the most popular and diverse year-round activities on offer in the Southern Alps. Go bush walking through emerald rainforests, take-on the Heaphy or Cascade-Hollyford Track - two of New Zealand's '12 Great Walks'; grab your backpack and strive for the summits; or take tramping to the next level and strap on your crampons to tackle one of the Southern Alps' 140 glaciers.
In the Canterbury region, the South Island's highest mountain - Mount Cook - is an obvious place to start; whether you choose an easy hour-long loop in the foothills or a multi-day expedition to the summit, the views are out of this world.
The gorgeous Caples and Greenstone river valleys are other big tramping spots, as are areas such as Arthur's Pass National Park - a place of steep gorges and braided rivers in the heart of the Alps - and Mount Aspiring, further south.
Cycling and Mountain Biking
Cyclists are spoilt for choice in the Southern Alps, with hundreds of kilometres of trails at your disposal.
In some National Park areas, mountain biking is restricted to marked roads, so single-track can be limited, but areas such as the Craigieburn Valley, near Christchurch - an area of native beech forest, rough scree slopes and loose boulder fields - offer enough stunning alpine climbs and sweeping dirt track descents to plant a permanent grin on any mountain biker's mud splattered face.
Enthusiasts wanting more physically demanding adventure holidays could even enter annual events such as the 40km Wee McGregor Mountain Bike Race, in Canterbury's Mackenzie Region, which travels along four wheel drive tracks and climbs 350 metres high, passing the Wee McGregor mini mountain (1138m).
Trekking schools can be found throughout the Southern Alps, offering everything from taster rides to week-long adventure trips. Saddle up and trek past snow-capped mountains and alpine lakes in North Canterbury; swim with your horse through flowing rivers and ride through ancient forests; or explore the high country sheep stations of Glentanner and take in stunning views of Mount Cook from the saddle.
4x4 Driving and Overland Adventures
To cover more distance in a day, take an overland driving tour and traverse rugged mountain tracks, splashing through mountain streams and taking in scenes fresh from The Lord of the Rings, stopping off to fish in glacier-fed rivers, filled with salmon and trout.