GuideA Road Trip Guide to Akaroa

Akaroa is simply picture-postcard. The harbour town is perched on one of the dozens of inlets on Banks Peninsula. Found just an hour and twenty minutes drive from Christchurch, Akaroa has fast become a popular and charming location to visit in the region. As Aotearoa’s only French settlement, the town exudes a certain je ne sai quois with colourful history, great food, quaint accommodation, and stunning scenery. No surprise really that the rare Hector dolphin decided to call this place home too.

A man walking along the pier in Akaroa.

On The Road: Pt.1

Make the most of your journey to Akaroa. There’s a handful of worthy pit-stops on the peninsula that deserve exploration. 

Little River Craft Station

4235A Christchurch Akaroa Road, Little River

Just next door you may have already spotted the historic Little River Railway Station. Swing by and discover the Little River Craft Station, a co-operative of local crafts people from the area and its surrounds. These Little River folk sure know how to craft. Their diverse range of crafted items include knitwear, pottery, preserves, woodwork, jewellery, leatherwork, quilts and much more.

Exterior of Little River Craft Station.

On the Road: Pt.2

Let's keep moving closer, but before you get to Akaroa, there are a couple more places to stop awhile. 

Hinewai Reserve

Long Bay Road, RD3, Akaroa 7583

Hinewai Reserve is the final stop before rolling into Akaroa. The reserve is a special and distinctive stretch of land; what was once degraded gorse-infested farmland has been nurtured back to 1250 hectares of native forest. The regeneration occurred after a pioneering approach from the Maurice White Native Forest Trust who allowed the gorse to grow rampantly whilst simultaneously acting as a natural canopy and protection for the fledgling native plants. Fast forward 30 years, the reserve which lies just east of Akaroa, is an ecological restoration success story. Take a stroll for an hour or two through the forest surrounded by native flora and fauna, and mid-amble, find a suitable spot for a picnic and dig out your tasty supplies. It’s hard not to leave Hinewai feeling inspired, if that’s the case, you can volunteer your services so they can continue to do such great environmental work. 

Photo credit: Hinewai Reserve 

Kereru in native bush at Hinewai.

Explore Akaroa

Rona's

74 Rue Lavaud, Akaroa

As you drive down into Akaroa, you may feel ready for another caffeine fix and something sweet. Search out Rona's and indulge yourself with a slice of cake and coffee. Sit outside if weather permits and watch as people walk on by.

Coffee on a table at Rona's.

Meander Rue Lavaurd

Rue Lavaurd, Akaroa

Now to familiarise yourself with Rue Lavaurd aka the high street. We recommend meandering the length of the village at a leisurely pace. Take a moment to call into the Akaroa Butchery, proudly decorated in the colours of France. Behind the red, white and blue facade of La Boucherie du Village you will find locally sourced provender at its finest. The vintage exterior of Peninsula General Store will pique curiosity and inside organic, international and gourmet foods await you. Lava Gallery is a humble little shop worth popping in. They source a range of beautiful objects, gifts and homewares made by New Zealand creators and makers. As is the case with many of the other recommendations in this guide, you may be hard pushed to depart Lava with nothing in hand.

Exterior of Akaroa Butchery.

Sundowner and Supper

HarBar & Ma Maison

Akaroa

After freshening up at the French Bay House, it’s time to squeeze the most of golden hour. Take a walk down to HarBar; a coast-hugging beach bar that’s undoubtedly the best place for a sundowner beverage before dinner. 

Supper by the sea is the quintessential way to end your day. The outlook for the evening is gazing past Daly Wharf out to Akaroa Harbour at Ma Maison. Here you’ll be treated to a seafood dinner with the freshest produce available. The offerings of this place are abundant. Think crabs, octopus, scallops, mussels, oysters– you name your favourite seafood and there’s a strong likelihood it’ll be on the menu. Coupled with a cold glass of chardonnay, you may well have found your mon amour.

Food and cocktails at Ma Maison in Akaroa.

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