The picturesque Bank Peninsula will spoil you with awesome scenery on your way to Akaroa. The peninsula was formed by the eruption of two volcanoes, leaving behind some incredible nature. It deserves plenty of time to explore the whole area and its almost countless bays along the coastline, especially if you love wildlife and hiking. Once you arrive in the charming French-influenced village of Akaroa, you will quickly find out that there are numerous activities to choose from. No matter if you want to relax in one of the many cafes and restaurants, kick back at the boutique cinema, enjoy the great beaches, go on one of the several hikes or explore the wildlife on a harbor cruise – there should be an activity for everyone.
How to get there?
Akaroa is located southeast of Christchurch and is a popular destination for a day trip from the city. The best way to come here is by car this way you can enjoy the scenery along the way to the fullest. If you have plenty of time choose the coastal road via Lyttelton.
Akaroa is the perfect destination to enjoy some good hiking. Make sure to grab a copy of the “Akaroa Country Walks” brochure at the local tourism office (2 EUR) and just pick one of the many options. For us the walks were a great way to experience and explore the area. The brochure includes a mix of short walks, tramps and a bike ride. But no matter whether you choose a short walk, easy tramp, hike or bike ride, your exploration of the hills surrounding Akaroa will be rewarded with superb views, pastoral scenery and native bush. The eight main routes are designed to depart from and return to Akaroa, so you can leave your car behind and enjoy the walks in your own pace.
How long to stay?
You can either choose to visit Akaroa during a day trip from Christchurch (leave early in this case) or to spend 1-2 nights in the area to enjoy some of the hikes, the village and maybe go on one of the harbor cruises to see some penguins, dolphins or birds. We stayed for one night only and really enjoyed our time in the village and a short hike which gave us some good views of the city and the harbor. It is also very nice to just wander around the village and soak in the lovely atmosphere, we especially enjoyed all the pretty houses and seriously had to think about buying at least one.
Where to stay?
Accommodation is available in Akaroa, so you do not necessarily need to come with a campervan. For those who are traveling with a campervan or similar we can recommend to stay at the parking close to the Jubilee Park (43.802S, 172.968E). There are two small areas (marked with a yellow line) within which camping is allowed. The space is located close to the water. A big park, toilets and even a small grill station are available. From here you can easily reach the village and the boat terminal by foot.
Water Activities Akaroa is the only place in the world where you can swim with Hector’s dolphins, one of the world’s smallest and rarest. It is a real privilege to encounter these majestic creatures in the wild. If you would rather stay out of the water, you can simply watch from a boat as the dolphins go about their business. Another opportunity would be to take a nature tour to witness fur seals, white-flippered and yellow-eyed penguins and other birds. Most tours also take in spectacular views of Akaroa Harbor and Banks Peninsula. You can also opt for a kayak tour. Little River As the gateway to the Banks Peninsula, Little River is an obligatory stop en route to Akaroa. But it also is a desirable destination itself to escape the busy city life. Here you can also start the Little River Cycle Trail (50 km) which makes the little town a popular spot for mountain bikers. Walks are available too. Lyttelton If you have plenty of time you can think about going to Akaroa via Lyttelton. This small harbor town bustles with a mix of small-town charm, a big city vibe and a maritime influence – all in a fantastic location. And only 15 minutes from Christchurch. The harbor is inhabited by plenty of wildlife and there are two islands worth exploring. On top you get several walking tracks, from moderate to challenging. If possible make sure to visit on a Saturday to experince the Lyttelton Farmer’s Market. The market provides a good mix of wide-ranging produce and various trinkets. It runs from 10 am to 1 pm on London Street. Okains Bay Maori and Colonial Museum In this museum you can find significant Maori taonga (taonga = treasures) and early European items.