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Akaroa is a historic French and British settlement nestled in the heart of an ancient volcano just 83 kilometres from the city of Christchurch. With its colonial architecture, craft stores, and cafés, there is much to explore on foot. Otherwise, there are a variety of cruises on the beautiful Akaroa harbour, including dolphin tours to view the world’s smallest dolphin, the Hector’s Dolphin.
 
Sheep graze almost to the water's edge in the many small bays indenting the coastline of Banks Peninsula, the nub that juts into the Pacific east of Christchurch. On the southern side of the peninsula, in a harbor created when the crater wall of an extinct volcano collapsed into the sea, nestles the fishing village of Akaroa (Maori for "long harbor"). The cruise ship season runs from October to late April.
 
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.
 
Where You're Dock
All transfers ashore are done by tender in Akaroa. It has no deep water port facilities being a relatively small fishing and pleasure boat port. Understand that it is a recent replacement stop after the closure of Lyttleton Port, post earthquakes.
 
Things To See and Do
Exploring the Town & Harbor
 
A small museum, made up of four historic buildings on Rue Lavaud (tel. 03/304-1013; akaroa.museum@ccc.govt.nz; admission is NZ$4 adults, and NZ$8 families), has lively displays and good Maori collections. It's open daily from 10:30am to 4:30pm. The Langlois-Eteveneaux Cottage was partly prefabricated in France around 1846 and is probably the oldest in Canterbury. The Old French Cemetery was the first consecrated burial ground in Canterbury and is just off Rue Pompallier. The old lighthouse, which was in service from 1880 to 1980, is also interesting.
 
If you're artistically inclined, pick up the brochure for the self-guided Akaroa & Bays Art Trail, which leads to the homes and studios of 18 local artists and craftspeople. You'll need at least a day, as many of them are scattered farther afield in the surrounding bays. One of the most striking and unusual artist environments is the Giant's House - Linton, 68 Rue Balguerie (tel. 03/304-7501; www.linton.co.nz), where sculptor Josie Martin has created one of the wackiest and most inspiring gardens you'll find anywhere. She's surrounded her gorgeous historic home (B&B accommodations available) with landscaped gardens and a myriad of amazing mosaic sculptures that are bound to delight. Children will love it, and it's bound to be one of your lasting Akaroa memories, too. The garden is open daily from noon to 4pm December to March, and from 2 to 4pm from April through November. Admission is NZ$15 for adults, NZ$7 for children, and there's a cafe on-site. For a sample of local village culture, visit Akaroa Cinema & Café, 4 Selwyn Ave. (tel. 03/304-7678; www.cinecafe.co.nz), which has two tiny theaters showing the latest foreign and art-house films. It's a great experience!
 
One thing every visitor should do is experience the harbor firsthand. Pohatu Sea Kayaking  (tel. 03/304-8552; www.pohatu.co.nz) offers excellent guided kayak tours in the Flea Bay Marine Reserve, which should yield views of lots of penguins. Your tour guide is one of the volunteers working on penguin conservation and protection, and the evening tours cost NZ$75 per person.
 
Pit Stop -- If you'd like to take a break before crossing the hill, stop at the Little River Gallery, Main Road, Little River (tel. 03/325-1944; www.littlerivergallery.com), where you'll find a variety of New Zealand-made arts and crafts. Beside the gallery is the excellent Little River Store & Café. Both are open daily - the gallery from 9:30am to 5:30pm, the store from 7:30am to 7:30pm, and the cafe from 9am to 6pm.
 
The Big Cheese
 
As you drop down from the hills into Barrys Bay on your drive to Akaroa, keep an eye out on the left for Barry's Bay Cheese (tel. 03/304-5809; fax 03/304-5814), makers of mouthwatering traditional cheeses - everything from award-winning cheddars to Maasdam, Gouda, Edam, and havarti, to name just a few. During the cheesemaking season (usually Oct-Apr), you can watch cheesemaking activities every other day, through the viewing gallery window. There's a shop, and I advise you to stock up! They're open daily.
 
Although Akaroa was chosen as the site for a French colony in 1838, the first French settlers arrived in 1840 only to find that the British had already established sovereignty over New Zealand by the Treaty of Waitangi. Less than 10 years later, the French abandoned their attempt at colonization, but the settlers remained and gradually intermarried with the local English community. Apart from the rue (street) names, a few family surnames, and architectural touches, there is little sign of a French connection anymore, but the village has splendid surroundings.
 
Akaroa Historic Area Walk.
Amble along the narrow streets past old-fashioned little cottages and historic buildings which reflect the area's multicultural background. A free map that outlines the walk and points of interest is available from the information center. You can start this easy two-hour walk at the Akaroa Information Centre at 80 Rue Levaud.
 
Amble along the narrow streets past old-fashioned little cottages and historic buildings which reflect the area's multicultural background. A free map that outlines the walk and points of interest is available from the information center. You can start this easy two-hour walk at the Akaroa Information Centre at 80 Rue Levaud.
 
Akaroa Museum Along the waterfront from the Garden of Tlections and displays tell some of the exciting stories of Kai Tahu, the people of the land. The museum complex includes the Old Courthouse and Langlois-Eteveneaux House, the two-room cottage of an early French settler.
 
Along the waterfront from the Garden of Tane to Jubilee Park, the focus of historic interest is the Akaroa Museum, which has a display of Maori pounamu (greenstone) as well as alternating exhibits on the area's multicultural past. The Peninsula supported a significant Maori population and the collections and displays tell some of the exciting stories of Kai Tahu, the people of the land. The museum complex includes the Old Courthouse and Langlois-Eteveneaux House, the two-room cottage of an early French settler. Rue Lavaud at Rue Balguerie. Admission charged.
 
French Farm Winery. The only winery on Banks Peninsula occupies a stunning site overlooking Akaroa Harbour. The 20-acre vineyard produces pinot gris, chardonnay, and pinot noir. The cellar door also has Akaroa Harbour merlot, riesling, and rosé, so there's something for everyone. The on-site restaurant is hailed for its rack of lamb and Akaroa salmon-main courses cost $18 to $32-and the massive indoor fireplace makes it a cozy spot in winter. There's an alfresco Pizza Bar out back through the summer.
 
The only winery on Banks Peninsula occupies a stunning site overlooking Akaroa Harbour. The 20-acre vineyard produces pinot gris, chardonnay, and pinot noir. The cellar door also has Akaroa Harbour merlot, riesling, and rosé, so there's something for everyone. The on-site restaurant is hailed for its rack of lamb and Akaroa salmon-main courses cost $18 to $32-and the massive indoor fireplace makes it a cozy spot in winter. There's an alfresco Pizza Bar out back through the summer. Just off Wainui Bay Rd., turn off toward the coast at Barry's Bay Cheeses.
 
Okains Bay
The contrast of the rim of the old volcanic cone and the coves below is striking-and when you drop into one of the coves, you'll probably feel like you've found your own little corner of the world. One of the easiest bays to access is Okains Bay. Take the Summit Road at Hilltop if approaching from Christchurch, or Ngaio Point Road behind Duvauchelle if approaching from Akaroa. It's about 24 km (15 mi) from Akaroa and takes about a half hour to drive. The small settlement lies at the bottom of Okains Bay Road, which ends at a beach sheltered by tall headlands.
 
The contrast of the rim of the old volcanic cone and the coves below is striking-and when you drop into one of the coves, you'll probably feel like you've found your own little corner of the world. One of the easiest bays to access is Okains Bay. Take the Summit Road at Hilltop if approaching from Christchurch, or Ngaio Point Road behind Duvauchelle if approaching from Akaroa. It's about 24 km (15 mi) from Akaroa and takes about a half hour to drive. The small settlement lies at the bottom of Okains Bay Road, which ends at a beach sheltered by tall headlands.
 
Okains Bay Maori and Colonial Museum
This collection of buildings contains 20,000 Maori and 19th-century colonial artifacts, including (canoes) used in Waitangi Day celebrations and displays such as a smithy and print shop. There are also a slab cottage, and a saddlery and harness shop.
 
This collection of buildings contains 20,000 Maori and 19th-century colonial artifacts, including waka (canoes) used in Waitangi Day celebrations and displays such as a smithy and print shop. There are also a wharenui (Maori meetinghouse), colonial homes, including a totara slab cottage, and a saddlery and harness shop. Main Rd. Admission charged.
 
Pohatu Penguins and Marine Reserve
Pohatu Marine Reserve is a key breeding area for the white-flippered penguin (), which are endemic to the Canterbury region. The best time for viewing is during the breeding season, September to January. You may also see the yellow-eyed penguin (). Options range from day and evening penguin or nature tours. It's a scenic drive to Pohatu with photo stops along the way. (Akaroa Info Centre)
 
Pohatu Marine Reserve is a key breeding area for the white-flippered penguin (korora), which are endemic to the Canterbury region. The best time for viewing is during the breeding season, September to January. You may also see the yellow-eyed penguin (hoiho). Options range from day and evening penguin or nature tours. It's a scenic drive to Pohatu with photo stops along the way. (Akaroa Info Centre)
 
State Highway 75. The highway leads from Christchurch out onto the peninsula, curving along the southern portion past Lake Ellesmere. There are interesting stops on your way out to Akaroa. The small town of used to be the end of the line for a now-defunct railway line from Christchurch; the route is now a walkway and bicycle trail. The old, wooden train station houses a crafts gallery and information office, and a café is next door in the grocery store. Pick up the brochure of the area, which details the Heritage drive from Little River to Akaroa. When you reach pause for your first glimpse of Akaroa Harbour; on a sunny day it's magnificent. (At Hilltop the highway crosses the Summit Road, the other major route through the peninsula.)
 
The highway leads from Christchurch out onto the peninsula, curving along the southern portion past Lake Ellesmere. There are interesting stops on your way out to Akaroa. The small town of Little River used to be the end of the line for a now-defunct railway line from Christchurch; the route is now a walkway and bicycle trail. The old, wooden train station houses a crafts gallery and information office, and a café is next door in the grocery store. Pick up the Peninsula Pioneers brochure of the area, which details the Heritage drive from Little River to Akaroa. When you reach Hilltop, pause for your first glimpse of Akaroa Harbour; on a sunny day it's magnificent. (At Hilltop the highway crosses the Summit Road, the other major route through the peninsula.)
 
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
 
Harbor Cruises. You'll pull in beside huge volcanic cliffs and caves and bob around in the harbor entrance while tiny Hector's dolphins-an endangered and adorable species of dolphin with rounded dorsal fins that look like Mickey Mouse ears stuck on their backs-play in the wake of the boat. On some cruises you can swim with them, the only place in the world you can do so. Bring your swimsuit. Wet suits are provided in summer and dry suits in winter.
 
You'll pull in beside huge volcanic cliffs and caves and bob around in the harbor entrance while tiny Hector's dolphins-an endangered and adorable species of dolphin with rounded dorsal fins that look like Mickey Mouse ears stuck on their backs-play in the wake of the boat. On some cruises you can swim with them, the only place in the world you can do so. Bring your swimsuit. Wet suits are provided in summer and dry suits in winter.
 
Eating Out
Whether picnicking with family or romancing the love of your life what's better than seaside dining? Akaroa village is home to a great bunch of imaginative chefs, a butcher, baker and chorizo maker creating sensational snacks to degustation dinners using beautiful locally grown and prepared produce including fresh local fish. Cafes, restaurants, bistros and bars serve boutique local wines and cheeses and micro-brewery beers. They all have a unique ambience often with live music and seasonal specials.
 
The Trading Rooms Restaurant and Pantry - Modern, innovative menus, full of local flavours from small artisan producers, handpicked by Stephen and Kathryn. The Trading Rooms has a brilliant location, right on the waterfront. Enjoy stunning harbour views with lunch of locally caught fish and chips, Akaroa Salmon and boutique Banks Peninsula wines. Dinner puts a local seasonal twist on European cuisine; Canterbury Lamb is a signature dish. Bookings recommended. Closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays during Winter. Closed from 9th May, re-open on 4th July. 
Location--71 Beach road, Akaroa Email -- thetradingrooms@hotmail.com
Phone -- 03 304 7656
Vangioni's is a Mediterranean Restaurant where we hand-make exquisite food from paddock to plate. We proudly produce all our own cured meats including chorizo and bresaola; cold smoked salmon; freshly baked bread daily; our own fresh pasta and we grow many of our herbs and vegetables. We then turn these ingredients into wonderful dishes for you to enjoy with family and friends together with a delicious wine chosen from our extensive wine list or a cool glass of locally crafted beer.
Location -- 40 F Rue Lavaud, Akaroa Email vangionis@xtra.co.nz
Akaroa Fish and Chip shop is world renowned and famous! They have indoor and out door dining and great water front views. Excellent value takeaway meals and eat in. Hours: Open Sunday-Thursday 11am-7.30pm approx. Friday & Saturday 11am-8.30pm approx.
Location -- 59 Beach Road, Akaroa -- Email -- janineandbrent@hotmail.com
Open year round, 7 days for breakfast, lunch and dinner or enjoy a drink from our extensive beverage list. We offer a number of dining areas from our street frontage over looking the picturesque Akaroa harbour to a sheltered courtyard with childrens play area. We also have a children's menu. If you have enquires about conference or special function catering please visit our web site. Our menus are also on our web site. Open every day 8am until late. Location -- 57 Beach Road, Akaroa Email wayne@bullyhayes.co.nz Phone 03 304 7533
 
With views overlooking the picturesque Akaroa Harbour, La Thai combines both the aromatic fragrances and sensational flavours of Thailand to create a memorable culinary experience. At the moment we are only opening every day for lunchfrom 11am until 3pm,  and for dinner every night frmo 5pm onwards. La Thai provides a child friendly environment, with a takeaway option available. Dine inside or out and enjoy the experience provided by our team of friendly, caring staff. Relax and taste our range of non-alcoholic beverages, beers and award-winning wines while savouring entrées or enjoying a meal prepared by our Thai chefs. Bookings are recommended. Location -- 69 Beach Road, Akaroa Email -- hpwaghorn@xtra.co.nz
Open Seven Days from 8.00am on Beach Road on the main waterfront. We offer French style Breakfast with a large selection of sweet and savoury items to suit all tastes, fabulous coffee, juices and wine to takeaway. We have “Le Parisien” Breakfasts, Baguettes, Croissants, Pain au Chocolat, Fresh Fruit with Yoghurt & Honey, Homemade Toasted Muesli ,Croque Monsieur, Brioche, Croque Madame, Grande Ham & Gruyere croissants, Sandwiches, Bacon & eggs, Pain Au Raisin, Apple Custard Danishes, fresh Artisan breads and homemade pies are just some of the delicious Deli Foods on our menu.
Location -- 67 Beach road, Akaroa Email -- info@lescargotrouge.co.nz Phone 03 304 8774

L'Hotel Le Restaurant Le Bar -- Open 7 days until late L'hotel is situated right on the waters edge, with panoramic harbour views. L'hotel have an extensive menu using fresh local ingredients, also catering for food intolerances, with gluten free options on the menu. Central location and great bar & restaurant. L'Hotel is the perfect spot for your Akaroa dining and stay. Good off street parking. In the winter enjoy the open fire, candlelight dining and in the summer outdoor dining with live music on occasions.
Location -- 75 Beach road, Akaroa Email - infolhotel75@gmail.com Phone -- 03 304 7559

Meniscus Wine Lounge -- Enjoy the taste of Akaroa at the Meniscus Wine Lounge, located in the historic 1860’s cottage at 42 Rue Lavaud in the original French section of Akaroa. The wine is grown on the hillside off Lighthouse Rd on the south side of Akaroa overlooking the township. Meniscus vineyard is readily visible from the town as well as the Main and French Bay wharves. The grape varieties grown are Riesling, Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. You can taste the various vintages, enjoy a glass, share a bottle or carafe with friends in the Lounge or in the delightful French cottage garden.
Currently open: Saturday afternoons & Wednesday afternoons 2.30pm until 7pm approx.
Location -- 42 Rue Lavaud, Akaroa  Email -- de@meniscuswines.co.nz Phone -- 03 304 8754
Step through our gates and come and relax in our tranquil garden setting to escape the hustle and bustle outside. Our focus is on fresh local seasonal ingredients from our cottage kitchen, friendly service, great Allpress coffee, relaxed atmosphere, live music, al fresco dining and boutique beers and wines. Location
41 Rue Lavaud, Akaroa Email info@thebrasserie.co.nz

Shopping
The town is made up of 2 parts. The main wharf is at the south end of town and Beach road stretches out from there. There you will find bars, restaurants, gift shops, clothes shops, rock & jewellery shops. Something for everyone. Past the beach at the northern end of town you will find more fantastic shops, cafes and galleries. The shops are open until 5.30pm every day.  Don't go home empty-handed! Find the perfect gift at one of the many local souvenir or gallery stores.
 
The village of Akaroa is easy to get around by foot with most of the shops lining the waterfront and main street. Opening hours do vary by store, however most are open 7 days during the summer cruise season.
Artisans Gallery -- Relax and enjoy the cafés and shops. Quality New Zealand crafts including wood turning, pottery, jewellery and painting on silk. Location  - 45 Rue Lavaud, Akaroa
Faultline Gallery -- Quality New Zealand art, crafts, souvenirs and clothing. 54 Rue Lavaud, Akaroa Ph: +64 3 304 7774
Fire & Ice  -- Specialising in crystal, mineral specimens, faceted gemstones and pearls. Fire & Ice offer an equisite range of jewellery, the perfect momento from New Zealand. 6 Church Street, Akaroa Ph: +64 3 304 7804
Hetties Rock & Cystal Shop -- New Zealand's oldest rock and crystal shop. Hetties is one of the last few 'working' rock and crystal shops left in the world. 69 Beach Road, Akaroa Ph: +64 3 304 8000
Just Souvenirs -- Souvenir & gifts, clothing & crafts. 73 Beach Road, Akaroa Ph: +64 3 304 7019
Lava Gallery -- Quirky and cool locals gifts, beautiful jewellery and everything you never knew you needed! 61 Beach Road, Akaroa Ph: +64 3 304 8875
Pot Pourri -- A range of gifts and cards for all occasions – home of Akaroa Fine Fudge. 60 Rue Lavaud, Akaroa Ph: +64 3 304 7052
Studio Sixty Seven -- Exclusive homewares, artwork, quirky kiwiana and quality NZ souvenirs. 67 Beach Road, Akaroa Ph: +64 3 304 8750
The Little River Gallery -- Giftshop with quality, unique and original New Zealand art. (Please note that The Little River Gallery is not located in Akaroa but Little River. Many of the ships tours stop here for a bathroom break enroute to/from Christchurch). Main Road, Little River
Wool Shed Gallery -- Specialising in clothing made from Merino sheep wool and possum fur. 7 Church Street, Akaroa.






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