One option is that we arrive in the late afternoon of January 3, spending the night somewhere on the Banks Peninsula (either Diamond Harbour or Akaroa?). We would then explore for most of the day on January 4 before heading back to Christchurch where we would sleep in a hotel for several hours before returning our rental car and checking in for our early morning flight.
Second option would be to spend 2 nights on the Banks Peninsula (probably Diamond Harbour since it's closer to Christchurch) and then head to the Christchurch airport at 2:30am on January 5. Having never been there, I am wondering how safe is the drive from Diamond Harbour back to Christchurch. Is the road very curvy with steep drop-offs, and therefore unsafe to drive in the middle of the night?
Also, if we opted to stay for 2 nights, would Diamond Harbour be a good base for exploring the Banks Peninsula? Any recommendations for a dayhike that has great views but isn't that strenuous of a hike?
Thanks in advance for your help!