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8 of the best things to do in Akaroa

Where to swim with dolphins, rent kayaks and eat incredible food in Akaroa

Akaroa is a small town and region just outside of Christchurch on the South Island. It’s the only ‘French’ area in all of New Zealand as it was the only French settlement, and it’s best known for its amazing harbour, great food and dolphin watching opportunities!

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1. Swim with dolphins

Akaroa is known for its dolphin spotting and swimming opportunities. The harbour provides a sheltered setting to play with the Hector (or New Zealand) dolphin on many of the tours available in the area. If you go with Swimming with Doplhins, it’s just $139 per person, and the group numbers are limited to 12 people per group.

Dolphins in Akaroa. Photo: Flickr / Jocelyn Kinghorn

Photo: Flickr / seabirdsnz

2. Jump on a boat

Boat tours are one of the best ways to see this volcanic landscape, especially as it’s easier to sail out to sea rather than drive to the coast. Black Cat Cruises run twice a day, and they’re only $34 per child/$70 per adult. Look for the blue sign on the long wharf in the centre of town for their departure point.

The Bay. Photo: Flickr / Jocelyn Kinghorn

Photo: Flickr / Jocelyn Kinghorn

3. Go on a kayak safari

This is the best combination of the first two. See the dolphins up close and personal whilst taking in all of Akaroa’s beauty, from the serene and natural viewpoint of an ocean kayak. You can even try taking this tour at sunrise if you’re an early riser.

Kayak safaris in the Bays. Photo: Flickr / Kayak Safari

Photo: Flickr / Kayak Safari

4. Do the Banks Peninsula Trek

The Banks Peninsula Track is a 35 kilometre tramping track that opened in 1989 and is famous for its stunning scenery. If you choose to complete all of the Banks Peninsula Track, it’ll take you around 4 days. Spend your time flitting between the camp sites, exploring the beaches and taking photos of this beautiful stretch of coast. Find all the details on the four day trek as well as the smaller, more manageable treks here.

Banks Peninsula Track, Akaroa. Photo: Flickr / Jocelyn Kinghorn

Photo: Flickr / Jocelyn Kinghorn

5. Explore Fisherman’s Bay Garden

Richard and Jill Simpson have turned their farm into a stunning floral garden near Long Bay on the coast of Akaroa. The spring time blossoms are a picturesque testament to the work they’ve put into the garden – take a walk around the next time you’re on Fishermans Bay Road.

The garden. Photo: Fisherman's Bay Garden

Photo: Fisherman’s Bay Garden

6. Cycle round the hills

Cycling round Akaroa isn’t just a great way to see the area, it’s also an awesome workout. The area is formed by the composites of two shield volcanoes, which form the Port Hills and Akaroa Harbour. You can either bring your own bike, or rent one out from one of the companies in the area.

Akaroa Harbour. Photo: Akaroa and the Bays

Photo: Flickr / Akaroa and the Bays

7. Spot the penguins

This is the largest Little Penguin colony on the South Island of New Zealand, and Pohatu Penguin Tours offer you the opportunity to get up close and personal with these cute little fellas. Pohatu Penguins have worked to conserve this colony for the past 30 years!

New Zealand Penguin Colony. Photo: Flickr / Andrea Schaffer

Photo: Flickr / Andrea Schaffer

8. Sample some of Akaroa’s best seafood

One of the best things about this area is the abundance of local produce, and in this case it’s seafood. Many of the local restaurants change their menu depending on what’s in season, so make sure to check out The Trading Rooms Restaurant, Murphy’s Seafood or HarBar.

Sundowners. Photo: HarBar

Photo: HarBar

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