Swim with dolphins, sail around the bay and visit a sculpture and mosaic garden in this charming French and British colonial town in a volcanic setting.
Akaroa means “long harbor” in a Māori dialect and the town of Akaroa is set on the edge of a narrow and sheltered harbor. Enjoy the ambiance of this attractive heritage town, the only French settlement in New Zealand.
Just 47 miles (75 kilometers) from Christchurch, Akaroa on the Banks Peninsula is easy to reach. Akaroa sits at the heart of an ancient volcano and the landscape is dotted with the remnants of past eruptions.
Walk along the scenic waterfront and look to the hills beyond. Explore the origins of Akaroa with a visit to the little Akaroa Museum. Learn about the English and French heritage of the region, which was first settled by these Europeans in the 19th century but was already home to Māori hundreds of years earlier.
Akaroa Beach is on the eastern shore of Akaroa Harbour. Join a boat tour to swim with the rare Hector’s dolphins, sign up for a kayaking adventure or book a relaxing sailing cruise. In Flea Bay, just to the south, take a four-wheel-drive trip to the largest little penguin colony on mainland New Zealand. Spot seals as well.
Visit one of the many atmospheric cafés and restaurants around town for lunch. French food is a speciality and local chefs create magic with the fresh produce from the surrounding farmlands. An all-time favorite is kumara (sweet potato) which early Māori seafarers brought to New Zealand. Head around the bay to visit Barrys Bay Cheese, which has been running since 1895, and get a bottle of local wine to complement your cheese platter.
Head out into the countryside around Akaroa for some great hiking and cycling. Short and easy trails and more challenging and adventurous tracks are available. Sensational views over the harbor and hills greet you along the way.
At the Giant's House, wander around the gardens and marvel at the colorful sculptures and mosaics with views over the bay. Learn about artist Josie Martin, who created this masterpiece around an old house built in 1880. You can even stay the night here if you’d like to prolong your stay on the enchanting Banks Peninsula.