Only about an hour’s drive from Christchurch on the Banks Peninsula, is the small seaside town of Akaroa. The scenic drive from Christchurch takes you through beautiful countryside dominated by steep sided hills and coastal scenery. The entire Banks Peninsula is an extinct volcano, and the hilly terrain leads down to picturesque inlets and bays. The area was originally settled by many French settlers, and the town still has a bit of a French feel to it. The town itself sits in a sheltered bay in Akaroa Harbour.
There is a wide range of accommodation for all budgets, from hostels and B&Bs to hotels and apartments. I was travelling around New Zealand in a campervan when I went there, so I had one of the cheapest options by staying at a campground. The picture above is the view from my campsite. You can find plenty of accommodation options here.
Akaroa is a quiet, relaxed little town, and has some lovely pubs and waterfront cafes and restaurants to sit and watch life go by. On a nice evening take a walk along the waterfront as the sun goes down.
A great way to see the area is to take a cruise on the harbour which can take you out to a seal colony and swim with the rare Hector’s Dolphins. If you get good weather, you can also hire or take a kayaking tour. Blackcat run regular cruises along the harbour.
If you love your trekking like me, then the 2 or 4 day Banks Peninsula track is a great way to see the rugged beauty of the area. The track takes you from Akaroa through beautiful forests, waterfalls, wildlife, coastal scenery and sandy beaches. There are huts to stay in at designated points along the way. The track cannot be walked in the wintertime, and is a bit on the pricey side if you are a budget traveler. For more information go here.
Akaroa was my first stop on my tour of the south island of New Zealand after leaving Christchurch, and I would definitely go back again.