Akaroa, New Zealand

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Main port photo for Akaroa, New Zealand

On the eastern shores of New Zealand's South Island, Akaroa is a popular tourist destination with a distinctly French flair, its history steeped in legend. It lies on the volcanic Banks Peninsula, which the Maori believe was formed when a hero named Maui piled mountains upon a giant who threatened to eat his children.

The same peninsula was purchased from the local Maori by a French whaler around 1838, and was later settled by both the French and the British, who had just signed the Treaty of Waitangi ensuring New Zealand's existence as a British colony.

With French-named streets leading to restaurants serving French cuisine and colonial architecture all around, Akaroa's heritage as the only French-founded community in New Zealand is unmistakable. Akaroa harbour is home to a diverse array of marine life, including rare Hector's dolphins, and visitors are lured by the area's secluded beaches and quaint boutiques.

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  • Tranz Alpine Express Tranz Alpine Express

    One of the world's great scenic railways travels through 19 tunnels and across four bridges showcasing verdant open plains, lush beech forest, rugged river valleys and the towering Southern Alps.

  • Arthur's Pass Arthur's Pass

    Giving its name to the astounding alpine wilderness that is Arthur's Pass National Park, the highest pass over the Southern Alps is a popular destination via road and the Tranz Alpine Express railway.

  • International Antarctic Centre International Antarctic Centre

    An interactive Antarctic experience unfolds through fascinating exhibits, a polar room chilled to -5° C, an indoor storm with authentic blizzard conditions, a 4D audio visual experience and a penguin encounter.

  • Canterbury Plains Canterbury Plains

    This verdant breadbasket is spread out like a patchwork quilt of farmland in shimmering shades of green. And in the distance, the snow-capped peaks of the Southern Alps are a dazzling surprise.

  • Waimakariri River Waimakariri River

    Flowing in a southeastward direction the river rushes through a narrow canyon called the Waimakariri Gorge and then gently meanders across the Canterbury Plains on its journey to the Pacific Ocean.

  • The Giant's House The Giant's House

    Originally know as Linton, "The Giant's House" is a unique part of the history of Akaroa - nestled in a secluded valley, it was built in 1880 for Akaroa's first bank manager. The grand house built of native timbers sits in sculpture mosaic garden that's colorful, exuberant, interactive, romantic, fun and full of surprises.

  • Hector's dolphins Hector's dolphins

    One of the smallest marine dolphins in the world and only found in New Zealand's water, Hector's dolphins grow no more than 1.5 m in length.

  • Akaroa Akaroa

    This quaint French and British-influenced village is nestled in the heart of an ancient volcano. It offers colonial architecture, galleries, cafés and dramatic seaside views.


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