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Akaroa is a charming small town (population 600) on Banks Peninsula in Canterbury. It is set on sheltered harbour and is overlooked and surrounded by the remnants of a miocene volcano. It is the only settlement founded (1838) by the French in New Zealand and emphasises the "French connection" in its visitor material.

Get in[edit]

By car[edit]

Akaroa is the terminus of SH75 coming from Christchurch, which winds over the hills of the peninsula with breathtaking views.

By bus[edit]

You can also take a shuttle bus from Christchurch to Akaroa.

By ship[edit]

Akaroa Harbour and the long main wharf

Akaroa is a tender port for cruise ships anchored in the harbour. Tenders bring passengers to the long shallow-water main wharf in the centre of town. The small town can be easily walked and explored in several hours. On cruise ship days, a free shuttle operates every 15 minutes from the Akaroa main wharf and goes to the centre of Akaroa (Akaroa Visitor Centre) and to the Recreation Ground (end of town). Stops are also possible to The Giants House.

Akaroa is currently the base point for excursions to Christchurch in the absence of the port Lyttleton, which was damaged in the 2011 earthquake. Christchurch city is 1.5 hours drive away. Shuttle Services: Akaroa Shuttle (Red Bus) and French Connection (Cityline) buses to Christchurch leave from the main wharf. It costs approx. $50 return per adult.

Get around[edit]

See[edit][add listing]

Akaroa's harbour is home to an array of wildlife, most notably the rather tiny and rare Hector's dolphin. Cruises and dolphin swimming are popular attractions.

Do[edit][add listing]

A popular drive is to Pohatu Marine Reserve, centred on nearby Flea Bay. The marine reserve is set aside to protect the natural marine environment. The drive takes about forty minutes, sometimes on steep and exposed shingle roads. The drive has excellent views back over Akaroa Harbour.

  • Ecoseaker, Dalys Wharf, 0800 326 794, [1]. Oct-Apr, meet at noon. Swimming with Hector's dolphins. Trip lasts up to 3.5 hours. Wetsuit, mask and snorkel provided. Swimming with dolphins $150; watching $80.  edit
  • The Giant's House, 68 Rue Balguerie, [2]. Oct-Dec 1200-1600 Jan-Apr 1200-1700; May-Sep 1100-1400. Garden of National Significance; quirky mosaics, sculpture, terraced gardens, cafe on site. $20/$10.  edit
  • Hinewai Reserve, 632 Long Bay Road, [3]. Unique conservation estate; walking tracks suitable for all ages; notable trees. koha/gold coin donation.  edit
  • Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruises (Black Cat Cruise), Main Wharf, Akaroa, 0800 937 946, [4]. mid-Dec-mid-Mar: 11am, 1.30pm & 3.40pm; mid-Mar-mid-Dec 11am, 1.30pm. 2 hour cruise of beautiful Akaroa Harbour. See rare Hectors Dolphins, NZ fur seals, little blue penguins & other sea birds. $79/$32.  edit
  • Akaroa Guided Kayak Safari, Rue Lavauad, Akaroa, [5]. 6:00am-6:30pm. Sunrise & sunset tours available; experienced guides; see Hectors Dolphins, little blue penguins, secluded beaches, unique volcanic crater. $130.  edit
  • Akaroa Museum, 71 Rue Lavaud, +64 3-304 1013. 10:30-16:30 7 days. Features artefacts and stories from the Maori, French and British settlement as well as Natural History of Banks Peninsula.  edit

Buy[edit][add listing]

Eat[edit][add listing]

  • Bully Hayes, 57 Beach Road, Akaroa, +64 3 304 7533, [6]. Open 7 days from 8 am;. Long time Akaroa favourite; Dinner $20-$40.  edit
  • The Brasserie, 41 Rue Lavaud, Akaroa, +64 3-304 8585. Open 8:30-4:30 M-W; 8:30-9pm Th-Sun. Lovely garden for outdoor dining Lunch menu from $11; Dinner: Mains $19-$38.  edit
  • Rona's, 42 Rue Lavaud, Akaroa, +64 3 3048533, [7]. Open Thu-Mon only. Seasonal food a speciality  edit
  • Harbar, 83 Rue Jolie, Akaroa. Open daily 8:00am-10:00pm. one of the only truly waterfront restaurants in Akaroa.  edit

Drink[edit][add listing]

Sleep[edit][add listing]


  • Akaroa Dolphin Backpackers, 108 Rue Jolie, ☎ +64 3 304-7136. From $30.
  • Chez La Mer Backpackers, 50 Rue Lavaud,☎ +64 3 366-4556 or 0800 800 575 (tollfree in NZ). $25-80 with lowest prices offered to BBH members.


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