Take a Journey to Akaroa, New Zealand’s French Gem

October 22, 2019
Just NZ Holidays

Whether you’re a nature lover, a foodie, or just love sightseeing by the sea, there’s a small town in New Zealand you need to get to know: Akaroa.

Small in size but carrying a big reputation, Akaroa delivers beauty and relaxation in spades. At just one hour’s drive from Christchurch, we couldn’t recommend a South Island holiday without a visit to Akaroa. Let’s find out more about some of the highlights.

Akaroa Nature Cruise

The Akaroa Black Cat Cruise

No trip to Akaroa is complete without a harbour cruise. With its volcanic basin, steep cliffs and rolling green hills, Akaroa’s picturesque harbour is the star of postcards, Instagram profiles and holiday photo albums all over the world. On the journey over from Christchurch, you’ll stop at the hilltop for a truly spectacular photo op, followed by a quick visit to the traditional Barry’s Bay cheese factory — the only one left in the area.

On the Akaroa nature cruise, you’ll get up close and personal with Akaroa’s resident dolphins, the Hector’s dolphin. The endangered Hector’s dolphin is endemic to NZ and is one of the world’s smallest species. They can be seen jumping and playing all year round in Akaroa harbour.

Akaroa harbour is also home to a thriving seal and penguin colony. Expect to see the little heads of penguins popping up on the rocks as you travel further out into the harbour, and maybe a visit from an inquisitive seal or two by the side of the boat.

Swim with Dolphins

Up and Close with the Dolphins

If you’ve never swam with dolphins before, this is as good an opportunity as you’ll ever get! We reckon a swim with dolphins is a bucket list item, and certainly a must-do when you visit Akaroa.

Don your wetsuits (provided for you), and dive in to mix and mingle with the tiny dolphins. You also get the most amazing views of the harbour and its surrounds — there’s really else nothing like it. Dolphin swimming cruises run from the early morning through to the early afternoon and take around two hours.

The South Island’s French Quarter

Akaroa French Festival

Akaroa has uniquely French heritage. As the site of the only attempted French settlement in NZ (way back in 1840), you’ll still find loads of traces of that French influence in Akaroa; from the street names, to the colonial European architecture and landmarks — Akaroa even has its own French festival which runs every year. And of course, the French influence runs deep when it comes to food!

Akaroa is dotted with fantastic small restaurants which show off the seaside views and celebrate the best of French cuisine in the kitchen. Ma Maison on the waterfront is the perfect spot to while away an afternoon over a bowl of mussels with a great bottle of wine. Around the corner, the long-standing Little Bistro focuses on a sustainable menu and local organic ingredients. Akaroa is also known for its ocean-farmed salmon, so if you spy it on a menu, we highly recommend trying it — so much flavour!

Keen for a French twist on your New Zealand holiday? Contact us today to book your perfectly planned Akaroa adventure.

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