Over the Hill to our French Seaside Retreat
A journey around this beautiful peninsula will reward you with picturesque vistas at every turn, a thriving artisan culture and a marine environment teaming with wildlife. Come and immerse yourself in the alluring French character of Akaroa township – a seaside retreat just 90 minutes from Christchurch.
A charming getaway
Akaroa simply oozes charm! Nods to its history as a French settlement are everywhere, with pretty French-named streets, lined with historic cottages cloaked in roses. While away the hours browsing boutique shops and craft galleries, and stop for a pick-me-up of fine local food and wine at a café or restaurant overlooking the shimmering waters of Akaroa Harbour. Relaxation doesn’t get much better than this!
Akaroa has all the makings for the perfect romantic getaway. Take your pick of boutique B&B accommodation drenched in charm or camp out under the starts. Enjoy a long lunch or lingering dinner at a cosy café or restaurant, and stroll hand in hand through the town's enchanting streets and shops. Spend some quality time together appreciating the area's abundant creativity, perhaps with a walk through the secluded Giant's House mosaic and sculpture garden.
You'll find an uplifting community spirit here, with a fascinating mix of artists, creative spirits, gardeners, historians and artisan producers living alongside families – all passionate about this delightful region they call home.
So make sure you get a local's take on what to see and do here. And factor in a few days to enjoy this charming peninsula getaway – it's much more than a day trip destination.
Driving Routes, Walks and History
Banks Peninsula is packed with natural beauty. For breathtaking views over the peninsula's bays and beaches, take a drive along the Summit Road – the crater rim of the old volcano that formed Akaroa Harbour. Or lace up your walking shoes and explore on foot. There's a vast network of walking trails here, offering amazing views, rich displays of native bush and birdlife, and blissful peace and quiet.
Spend some time exploring the peninsula's outer bays. You'll find some stunning secluded beaches ripe for a picnic and a swim. There's also local history to uncover at the Okains Bay Māori and Colonial Museum.
The sparkling waters and dramatic coastline of Banks Peninsula are home to a host of marine life including the world's smallest and rarest dolphin - Hector's dolphin. Swim with these playful mammals for an unforgettable wildlife encounter.
Trip out on the water by boat or sea kayak, could also reward you with sights of New Zealand fur seals, white-flippered penguins, little blue penguins, and scores of bird life overhead. The Pohatu Marine Reserve is home to a range of wildlife including the mainland's largest white-flippered penguin colony - the only penguin species endemic to Canterbury.
Check out one of the many Akaroa water and wildlife tours that will leave you with an encounter you won't forget.
The peninsula's wonderful natural environment also produces some delicious edibles. Savour some dairy delights at Barrys Bay Cheese, this is a great pitstop and opportunity to refuel with cheese and cracker packs and bit-sized cheese samples. After some wine to accompany the cheese? Then be sure to stop at nearby French Peak Wines and take time to sample their Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay or Rosé.
Sample fresh produce and homemade goodies at the weekend Farmers' Market, and discover your own favourite drop at a local vineyard. In Akaroa, relax over a great coffee, take in a cooking class, enjoy succulent local seafood at a table with harbour side views, or fish and chips alfresco.