Dolphins In Akaroa

We ended our week’s roadtrip on the South Island with two nights on the beautiful Banks Peninsula. We chose the historic French/British settlement of Akaroa, as we were meeting friends who were flying into Christchurch and it’s only a 90 minute drive from the airport. The area is absolutely stunning, formed by remnants of volcanoes whose natural harbours teem with marine life.

Following the earthquake, many cruise ships have now diverted their itinerary to Akaroa instead of Christchurch. This means that Akaroa can get busy so it’s worth checking in advance whether you are visiting on a ‘cruise ship day’ and therefore need to reserve your activities/dining options in advance.

Where did we stay?

My friend booked a beautiful 3 bed house through Bachcare on Rue Grehan. The house was a 5 minute walk to the harbour promenade and was stylishly furnished.  In addition to the bedrooms, there was a large bathroom, extra toilet and open plan kitchen/diner/living space. We loved using the record player and chilling on the large balcony. The property will be even better once the pool is finished (it just sat there taunting us during our stay).

What did we do in Akaroa?

Our main priority for Akaroa was relaxing with our friends, also with a young family (and one on the way!)  Having spent the week rushing around, we didn’t explore Akaroa to its full potential but we did enjoy:

  • Strolling around the promenade. The town has a Cape Cod vibe with its colonial architecture, cafes, galleries and gift shops.
  • Sampling goods from the Farmers Market, held every Saturday 9.30 to 1pm. If you are expecting a massive market, you will be disappointed (there were only 7 stalls when we were there). There’s another market a short stroll down where you can find some excellent baked goods.
  • Akaroa Beach is a lovely spot although the water can be chilly!
  • The highlight of our trip was a Harbour Boat Tour with Akoroa Dolphins. The boat was beautiful, very comfortable with indoor and outdoor seating options. It’s not cheap but if you’re looking to see some amazing wildlife, I think its worth it. We saw dolphins who happily swam up alongside the boat, visited a seal colony and spotted penguins.
    The journey lasts just over two hours so may not be suitable for those under 4 with a short attention span who want to run around the boat! My girls at 7 and 5 really enjoyed it (especially the complimentary juice and biscuit).
  • I had wanted to visit Barrys Bay Cheese but unfortunately we ran out of time!

Where did we eat?

We mainly cooked at the rental, having stocked up on purchases in Christchurch. We snapped up some delicious quiche and sausage rolls at the farmers market and also enjoyed coffee and ice cream from Sweet As Bakery.

We had one dinner out at The Brasserie which was fabulous. We ate outdoors in the garden, listening to the sounds of an excellent guitarist knocking out Pink Floyd.

From Akaroa, we headed straight to Christchurch Airport to bid a sad farewell to this beautiful part of the world. Unfortunately our return flight with Singapore Airlines wasn’t so great with broken inflight entertainment! 


For more on our South Island Adventure

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