New Zealand: Best towns in New Zealand for a first timer?
Depends what you are into. The South Island is great if you're into the outdoor adventure thing. North Island is better for beaches, maori culture, bigger cities. Most people trip around both islands.
Christchurch: What's the best neighborhood in Christchurch for a first time visitor?
There are also some central city hotels that might work. I wouldn't stay near the airport if you want to explore the city. Bealey Ave and Riccarton Rd (especially close to North Hagley Park) would work.