Ever wanted to hang out on hills created by volcanic eruptions while gawking at the coastline and feeling French? Yeah, us too. Akaroa, just 75km out of Christchurch, is the perfect place to indulge those long-held travel fantasies and more, without venturing very far away from home at all.
Akaroa is a ‘choose your own adventure’ kind of New Zealand town. Feel free to laze around looking at the beautiful local art and learning about the town’s fascinating Maori-Anglo-French history, or dive right into dolphin safaris, jet boat rides, fishing charters and, er, diving. Other highlights include Banks Peninsula, which was formed by two giant volcanic eruptions, leaving delicate harbours such as Le Bons, Pigeon and Little Akaloa Bay to explore. But no matter what you choose, Akaroa provides a stunning backdrop to work with. Seriously, it’s up to you.
AKAROA’S TOP 10
|10. Akaroa Cooking School Learn how to cook traditional food using local produce. Not just for nannas, we promise.||5. Barry’s Bay Cheese Cheese makers since 1895. Every second day there’s a cheese-making tour, which is completely awesome for food lovers.|
|9. Fisherman’s Bay Garden Sweeping views of the Pacific form the backdrop to this two-hectare garden. ||4. Maori and Colonial Museum What started out as a private collection has grown into a world-class exhibit.|
|8. Akaroa Jet Adventures If you’re scared of falling in, this ride probably isn’t for you since the 360° spins come scarily close to tipping over (but never do)!||3. Akaroa Museum Spread over a bunch of different historic buildings, so you can kill several birds with one stone. Not that we advocate avian violence, of course…|
|7. Banks Peninsula Track Explore along the volcanic coastline, native plants, waterfalls and sandy beaches.||2. Waeckerle Cottage Dating back to 1876, there are also some nice trails around here, complete with guided tours.|
|6. Akaroa Adventure Centre Sea kayaking, surfing with the seals, mountain biking, water scooters and surfing. All in a day? Phew! ||1. Tree Crop Farm Fancy a private jaunt in the wilderness? Here’s your place.|
The Christchurch Arts Festival brings music, comedy and theatre acts to Akaroa each September.
November sees the Banks Peninsula play host to the Motukarara Christmas Race Day. Families come together to celebrate the holiday season and have a punt.
New Year’s Eve is a big celebration in NZ. Most towns host parties, celebrations and late nights with special events – and Akaroa is no exception!
WHEN TO GO
- It’s certainly not the warmest place in NZ, but it’s not the coldest either so pack for anything, as the weather can be a little hit and miss.
- Average summer temperatures are around 16-22°C (61-72°F) through night and day.
- In winter, temperatures range from 2-13°C (36-55°F), so pack your thermals!
- If you’re intending on seeing everything in a short stay, your best bet is to hire a car.