Akaroa, New Zealand
The charming town of Akaroa (meaning ‘long harbour’ in Maori) is a little piece of provincial France located amongst the beautiful landscape of New Zealand. The only French settlement in New Zealand, Akaroa has a romantic atmosphere that makes it such a unique place to visit.
With delightful architecture, boutique shops, and quaint cafés, the streets of Akaroa are a pleasant place to lose track of time, either with the whole family or just hand-in-hand with your partner. The grandiose mountains and stunning shores that the horizon will keep you in awe of just how diverse and spectacular nature can be, a fact that New Zealand reminds visitors of time and time again.
Akaroa sits on Banks Peninsula, a beautiful peninsula with a distinct cogwheel shape just 80 kilometres from Christchurch, between Pegasus Bay and Canterbury Bight. There are so many secluded, stunning inlets, harbours and bays to discover all around the peninsula making it the perfect location for romantic beachside walks, fishing expeditions and watching the local wildlife.
Akaroa is located the heart of an ancient volcano on the south island’s eastern shore. The port sits in Akaroa Harbour and is approximately 90 minutes southeast of the larger city of Christchurch.
As a busy town and popular tourist destination, Akaroa has all the facilities you could need during your stop here. The port itself has limited facilities available.
- Visitor information booths
- Tour bus terminal.
Facilities near the port include:
- Restaurants and cafés
- ATMs and banks
- Akaroa Visitor Centre.
How to Get Around
To immerse yourself in the harbour and its wildlife, boat and ferry tours can be booked from the port. A free shuttle bus throughout the town operates when cruises are in port and there are also a few taxis, often found just outside of the terminal. There are always a number of tour operators available for trips around Akaroa and Banks Peninsula.
Shuttle buses to Christchurch also depart from the wharf. These can be slightly expensive and the journey will last for around 90 minutes, but the appeal of Christchurch can be very difficult to resist.
Travel times from the port:
- It is a 12 minute journey to the Akaroa Visitor Information Centre
- It is a 12 minute journey to the centre of Akaroa
- It is a 9 minute journey to Akaroa Museum.
- It is a 2 minute journey to the Akaroa Visitor Information Centre
- It is a 1 hour and 20 minute journey to Christchurch.
- Currency - The local currency in Akaroa is the New Zealand dollar. Coins come in $1, $2, 10c, 20c and 50c denominations. Notes come in $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 denominations. Credit cards are widely accepted throughout New Zealand.
- Time Zone - Akaroa is on New Zealand Standard Time, which is 12 hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). Akaroa changes to daylight savings time from late September to early April, putting them an extra hour ahead (UTC+13:00).
- Weather - Akaroa’s weather is pleasant and dry throughout the year, with an annual average temperature of about 12 degrees Celsius. Though winter can get a bit chilly, Akaroa is considered one of the warmest spots on New Zealand’s south island. Rainfall is quite common and February is the driest month.
- Giant’s House - Just a few minutes from the city centre, the Giant’s House is a peculiar but delightful collection of large, quirky statues, sculptures and mosaics, scattered throughout the grounds of an original Akaroa manor. The structures are reminiscent of the style of modernist artists like Gaudi and Miro, and are all the work of local artist Josie Marin. The grounds also feature an art gallery, café, and bed and breakfast.
- Okains Bay Maori & Colonial Museum - Half an hour from Akaroa, Okains Bay Maori and Colonial Museum has an impressive collection of ancient and modern artefacts that represent the history and culture of the local area. Notable pieces include a 600-year old sacred god stick, two 3-ton wakas (traditional canoes), Maori flutes built from conch shells, and a collection of early firearms.
- Dolphin Watching - Akaroa Harbour is home to Hector’s Dolphins, the smallest and one of the rarest breeds of dolphin. A boat ride or walk along the bay provides you with the opportunity to witness these delightful, fun-loving creatures, along with penguins, seals, and an abundance of birds. ‘Swim with dolphins’ boat tours are enormously popular amongst tourists and cost about NZD$75 for adults and NZD$30 for children. These cruises typically take about 2 hours.