Akaroa is a charming harbourside town on the eastern side of Akaroa harbour, in southern Banks Peninsula in the Canterbury region of New Zealand. Its early settlers were French, as well as British, and it was the only French settlement in New Zealand. Aspects of its French heritage remain, such as names of streets and businesses.

"Akaroa" is Maori for "Long Harbour". The village is snuggled into a wide bay on the eastern side of the rugged harbour, with Onuku Marae a little further south. The permanent population of around 700 in this historic village swells significantly over summer. Akaroa's harbour is home to an array of wildlife, most notably the rare Hector's dolphin. Cruises and dolphin swimming are popular attractions.

Get in

Banks Peninsula from space; Akaroa harbour is in lower centre

By car

Akaroa is 85 km (80–90 minute drive) from Christchurch on SH75, which winds over the hills of the rugged Banks peninsula with breathtaking views.

By bus

Both buses depart Christchurch from Canterbury Museum on Rolleston Ave.

By ship

The main wharf

Akaroa is a tender port for cruise ships anchored in the harbour. Tenders bring passengers to the shallow-water main wharf in the centre of town. The small town can be easily walked and explored in several hours. To get to the centre of town, walk north on Beach Rd with the French Bay waters on your left for about ten minutes to get to Rue Balguerie. On cruise ship days, a free shuttle operates every 15 minutes from the main wharf to the centre of Akaroa (Akaroa Tourist Information Centre) and to the Recreation Ground (end of town).

Akaroa is currently the base port for excursions to Christchurch, with the port of Lyttelton closed to cruise ships after being badly damaged in the 2011 earthquake. Christchurch city is 1.5 hours drive away. Shuttle services: Akaroa Shuttle (white and red) and French Connection (CityLine) buses to Christchurch leave from the main wharf.


Panorama: French Bay harbourside; main wharf (left)
Dalys Wharf, at the end of Rue Balguerie
Akaroa Court House
The Gaiety Hall


Hector's dolphin near Akaroa


Akaroa shops




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This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, October 31, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.