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.
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.
Akaroa Harbour is part of Banks Peninsula in the Canterbury Region of New Zealand. It is one of two major inlets in Banks Peninsula, on the coast of Canterbury, New Zealand; the other is Lyttelton Harbour on the northern coast. It enters from the southern coast of the peninsula, heading in a predominantly northerly direction. The name Akaroa is Kāi Tahu Māori for "Long Harbour". It is to highlight that when the French founded the village of Akaroa in 1840, they referred to the bay as Paka Ariki.
Christchurch is the city of exploration, a refreshing urban centre full of new secrets to discover. If you haven't been here in a while, you're in for a surprise. The city has been through some massive changes in the past few years, and the time has come to explore it all.
Akaroa & Surrounds
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.
Be chilled in our incredible Antarctic storm room. Be thrilled on an all-terrain vehicle tour. Make friends with penguins and huskies. Learn about the first expeditions, modern day life on Scott Base and the future of humanity on the ice. Be amazed through the big screen ice tour and astonished within the immersive 4D theatre.
New Zealand cuisine is largely driven by local ingredients and seasonal variations. An island nation with a primarily agricultural economy, New Zealand yields produce from land and sea.
Lord of the Rings
he Lord of the Rings is a film series of three epic fantasy adventure films directed by Peter Jackson, based on the novel written by J. R. R. Tolkien. The films are subtitled The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Two Towers (2002) and The Return of the King (2003). Produced and distributed by New Line Cinema with the co-production of WingNut Films, it is an international venture between New Zealand and the United States.
A perfect jewel of a day, crafted by a local expert eager to introduce the charms of Little River-a picturesque town and home to a thriving community of artisans who sell their wares in charming cafes and galleries. A scenic drive through a series of quaint villages and a photo stop complete the day.
Climb aboard a restored 1960s London Routemaster double-decker bus, a fun and scenic way to explore beautiful Akaroa. This fully guided adventure takes you through this charming town and around the bays all the way up the hills to the Hilltop café for breathtaking views looking back to Akaroa Harbour.
Skim over the waves on an adrenaline-filled 50-minute jet boat adventure that takes sightseeing to a new level. Admire the beauty of Akaroa Harbour as you power toward Nikau Palm Gully, Dan Rogers Bluff, the majestic Cathedral Cave and the picturesque Onawe Peninsula, enjoying wildlife sightings and picturesque vistas along the way.
Formed by a collapsed volcanic crater, picturesque Akaroa Harbour is home to a robust population of marine life, including Hector's dolphins, New Zealand fur seals and white-flippered penguins. Board a comfortable catamaran for an approximately 1.5-hour narrated cruise that puts intriguing wildlife front and center on this easy adventure.
Independent travelers will relish the opportunity to explore the garden city of Christchurch on their own while enjoying the convenience of prearranged round-trip transportation from the ship. Visit the Canterbury Museum, take a stroll around the expansive Christchurch Botanic Gardens, or explore the shops and cafés at the Re:Start shopping mall.
Admire the stunning vistas on your way to Paua Bay Farm for a taste of the rural Kiwi lifestyle. Watch sheepdogs at work, witness a sheep-shearing demonstration, stroll through the garden, and savor tea and homemade scones on this lovely half-day tour showcasing a traditional New Zealand hill country farm.
This is your chance for an up-close and personal encounter with wildlife, including dolphins, penguins and seals, on New Zealand's oldest ketch, Fox II. Set sail on this wildlife safari in search of a variety of animals that call these waters home, including Hector's dolphins, penguins, New Zealand fur seals, albatross and other seabirds.
Explore Banks Peninsula on a picturesque drive that offers sweeping views of historic Akaroa and the Southern Alps. Continue to Manderley Farm on Lake Forsyth, a traditional farm homestead, for tea and a sheepdog demonstration featuring the farm's prized collies, then drive into Christchurch city center for a quick visit.
Local Connections: Antarctic Centre & Botanic Gardens
7.5 hours | Akaroa | AK1-280
Akaroa & Surrounds
Take a trip to the South Pole at Christchurch's International Antarctic Centre. Ride the Hagglund snow cat, see live penguins and experience an exciting array of interactive displays. Then, take a drive through the city and enjoy free time to explore the Botanical Gardens' collection of exotic and indigenous plants.
Local Connections: Scenic Peninsula and the Giants House
4 hours | Akaroa | AK1-135
Akaroa & Surrounds
Explore Akaroa and the surrounding area with a visit to three of the area's best-known attractions. Sample local cheeses at Barry's Bay Cheese Factory, explore the collection of artifacts at the Okains Bay Maori & Colonial Museum, and admire the beautiful mosaics and sculptures at the Giant's House Artists Garden.
Led by a local expert who delights in introducing you to Akaroa's abundance of cultural and heritage sites, you'll travel through ever-changing scenery to such points of interest as the Takapuneke Historic Site, Britomart Monument and Heritage Park for panoramic vistas, as well as the Hinewai Reserve and Wildside Conservation Project. Bring your camera!
Local Connections: Akaroa, Giants House & Canterbury Farm
4.5 hours | Akaroa | AK1-200
Akaroa & Surrounds
Venture out into the Kiwi countryside. Stop for morning tea and view sheep-shearing and sheepdog demonstrations at a Canterbury farm. Travel back toward Akaroa enjoying views of the harbor from the Hilltop tavern and admire the beautiful mosaics and sculptures at the Giant's House, a showpiece of blooming color and art.
Grab your swimsuit and towel and set off on an incredible experience swimming with dolphins amidst the stunning scenery of Banks Peninsula and Akaroa Harbour. Your adventure includes an approximately two-hour cruise and up to 45 minutes frolicking in the open water with the tiny and rare Hector's dolphin. Wetsuit and mask are provided.
Sip and savor the beauty of the Banks Peninsula and Christchurch on a lovely day that includes a visit to Melton Estate Winery for a sampling of local wines followed by a float down the Avon River on a punt and a ride on the (Caterpillar) an open-air tram, through the Botanic Gardens.
Seafood lovers unite! The Fresh from the Wharf cooking class showcases the fresh bounty of Banks Peninsula through the creation of outstanding dishes and informative demonstrations on how to source great, fresh seafood, what to look for when buying fish, and many different cooking techniques. The day culminates with a seafood feast.
Canterbury Station, Mt Sunday & Lord of the Rings Sights
9 hours | Akaroa | AK1-125
Akaroa & Surrounds
Lord of the Rings
You don't have to be a "Lord of the Rings" fan to enjoy this epic adventure! Nature lovers and those who enjoy the outdoors will relish the opportunity to journey through absolutely stunning and cinematic scenery. Savor morning tea in the country and lunch at a high-country location with a Middle Earth flavor!
A rough and rugged exploration of New Zealand's hill country of the Southern Alps heads off the beaten path. Enjoy the great outdoors on a 4X4 tour vehicle that's made for back roads and off-roading. Then, jump aboard a high-speed jet boat for a thrilling cruise into the spectacular Waimakariri River Gorge.
Set your sights on the cloud-piercing mountains and shimmering sapphire lakes of New Zealand's dramatic Southern Alps. Step aboard the famed Southern Alps Express Train and glide past one dazzling tableau after another. With lunch served on board, this full-day tour is a feast for the senses.