GuideA Weekend Summer Road Trip to Akaroa

This coastal town perched just an hour and twenty minutes southeast of Christchurch has all you could want out of a weekend getaway: great food, charming accommodation, and stunning scenery. Home of the small, rare Hector dolphin and New Zealand’s only French settlement, the town of Akaroa still imparts a refreshing and unique charm.

A man walking along the pier in Akaroa

Friday: Head to Little River

On the road to Banks Peninsula, there’s a settlement worthy of exploring. With a renowned café, gallery, novel accommodation and hidden adventures, Little River is far more than a stop en route to Akaroa--it’s your first destination of the weekend.

4pm: Bid farewell to your laptop and coworkers!

Little River

Fuel up the car for an early start to the weekend, but first, don’t forget to stop at your local grocery for your favorite spread of breads, cheeses, and takeaways that are fit for a picnic. You’ll be putting it all to good use when you reach your destination around dinner time (don’t forget your picnic blankets).

5.30pm: Picnic in the Park

Heritage Park, Little River

By now you’re probably feeling peckish. Either quickly head on over to licensed Little River Cafe (which closes at 6pm!) to order a little takeaway or grab your grocery items and head to Heritage Park, a scenic spot off the main road, for an outdoor picnic. The park is the original location of the Little River Railway Line Turntable.

A picnic on blankets.

8pm: Nightcap at The Hilltop Tavern

5207 Christchurch Akaroa Road, RD1, Duvauchelle

If you’re looking for an evening nightcap, The Hilltop Tavern offers stunning scenic harbour views, delicious wood-fired pizzas, great music and good old rural Kiwi hospitality. There is a fine selection of craft beer and cider and a hearty menu of pub favourites.

A glass of whisky set against a black backdrop.

Saturday Morning: Time to Explore!

11am: Visit Little River Craft Station

4235A Christchurch Akaroa Road, Little River

Located in the Historic Railway Station Building, you’ll find knitwear, pottery, preserves, woodwork, jewellery, flowers, leatherwork, quilts, and more, available for purchase at this distinctive shop. All products are made by local crafts people in Little River and surrounding areas, and a portion of sold goods goes back into bettering the community.

The entrance to Little River Craft Station.

12pm: Take a Self-Guided Food Tour

Pick up fresh fruit (and eggs!) from Coop Town

Coop Town

Make your way to Akaroa via Coop Town and stop at Checkin Orchard to collect some fresh fruit for the weekend. You may get lucky and score yourself some eggs too. Save your delicious finds for later, or promptly devour them on the car ride into town--we won’t judge.

A hand reaching for peaches.

Saturday Afternoon

3:00pm: Walk it off

Stanley Park

If you’re jonesing to work off the indulgent treats from your local food tour, head to the Stanley Park Reserve for a scenic one hour return walking track. Perched just above Akaroa Village, the trail offers beautiful vistas overlooking the water, with open grasslands along the way. If you’re feeling even more adventurous, rent a kayak or boat on the harbour to take in Akaroa village from a new vantage point.

Hoping for something a little more slow-paced?

Take a cultural trip down memory lane at the free Akaroa Museum, which focuses on the history of the Banks Peninsula, including textiles, art, photography, costumes, taonga and technology. The museum was established in 1964 in the historic Langlois-Eteveneaux cottage. Today, it includes four exhibition galleries and two additional heritage buildings, the Akaroa Court House and the Custom House.

Boats on the water at Akaroa Harbour.

Saturday night in Akaroa

6pm - 11pm: Eat and drink the night away

Akaroa

6pm: After freshening up or even squeezing in a little afternoon nap at the French Bay House, head for pre-dinner drinks at HarBar Beach Cafe and Bar.

8pm: Make your way to Ma Maison for a fresh seafood dinner overlooking Daly Wharf and Akaroa Harbour. A dining area complete with bi-fold doors and an open fire makes for the perfect Saturday night ambiance.

9.30pm: Fancy a nightcap? End your evening at The Wharf to watch the sunset over the harbour with a cocktail in hand. With an offering of 60 gins, cocktails, champagne and a selection of tap and craft beers, there’s a little something for everyone.

Food and cocktails at Ma Maison in Akaroa.

Sunday: One Last Hurrah

10am: Akaroa activities before heading home

Akaroa Harbour

After enjoying a leisurely breakfast at the French Bay House, head for a mid-morning coffee at Ronas cafe. It's really good. Then check out some next day activities offered before heading back to Christchurch. Between dolphin watching, boating, and wine tasting, you’ll find plenty of excuses to extend your vacation just a little bit longer.

Dolphins swimming in Akaroa Harbour

All Guides