Port Review: Akaroa, New Zealand

(4 reviews)
0.00 Grams
Current Stock:

A haven for artists, gardeners and holidaymakers, Akaroa is located 75 kilometres from Christchurch on New Zealand’s South Island, and is a historic former French and British settlement sitting in the heart of an ancient volcano.


Its name means ‘Long Harbour’ in Maori, and the village of Akaroa is one of the country’s first European settlements; today still possesses many examples of early architecture. The village of Akaroa is tucked into the eastern side of a rugged harbour, which itself sits inside a wide bay. It’s picturesque at every turn, thanks to its volcanic landscape, and it is easy to navigate for self exploration on foot. Of if you have time and good weather, you can venture further to explore the dramatic outer bays. 

The Facts

Location: On New Zealand’s South Island.

Language: English.

Currency: New Zealand dollar. 

Docking/anchoring: Ships anchor in the harbour, and tender passengers to one of two places; near Piahia, which is a long walk to town, or Waitangi, near the Treaty Grounds. 

Transport: If you are dropped off a Piahia, you will need to take a bus to town, otherwise you are in the centre of town. There is a free taxi service around Akaroa on cruise days, which operates on a loop every 15 minutes. If you want to head to Christchurch, it’s an hour and a half drive away, you’ll need to take a tour. 

Don’t Miss

Hector’s dolphins are the smallest dolphins in the world, and a major drawcard of Akaroa. Options for encounters include swimming with them in the harbour, or taking a dolphin spotting cruise, or renting a kayak and venturing out on your own. Another plus are the little penguins - there’s a colony of the birds there.

Akaroa Winery is a Mediterranean style property located on the north facing slopes overlooking the inlet, this family owned organic vineyard produces quality grapes. 

Akaroa Waterfront used to be called the ‘Riviera of Canterbury’ by Christchurch locals, and it’s a great place to take a stroll, or relax with a coffee or a glass of wine. 

The Banks Peninsula Track is the first private walking track in New Zealand. It begins in the village and includes 35 kilometres of volcanic coastline, native bush, waterfalls and sandy beaches. 

Best Photo Op

The entire area is dotted with pretty scenes, but one of the best photo ops is on the waterfront parade on Summit Road, along the old volcano rim. Another is swimming with the Hector’s dolphins.


The focus is mainly arts and crafts with some lovely boutiques located in historic buildings, with jewellery, art crystals and other gifts available. One gallery to look out for is the Little River Art Gallery on Little River.

Food and Drink

Stop by Barry’s Bay Cheese Factory for a tasting - they’ve been making traditional cheeses here since 1895. If you plan to stay ashore all day, Akaroa Fish & Chips has both indoor and outdoor seating, waterfront views, and good quality, traditional fish and chips. A taste of Akaroa’s French heritage can be enjoyed at L’Escargot Rouge-Deli to Go, including sweet treats, croissants pain au chocolat and more. For a glass of wine with class, the Meniscus Wine Lounge is located in a historic 1860s cottage in the French part of Akaroa, with both indoor seating and a lovely garden.

Pick of the Excursions  

If you’ve been to Akaroa before, Christchurch is the most popular place to visit, as it’s only an hour and a half away. Although tours are often offered by cruise ships, they also usually offer a shuttle for self-exploring.

A 4WD nature tour is a great way to see the local countryside, and get close to the little penguin colony at Pohatu.

A local sights tour will usually include a leisurely coach drive of the area, a visit to Barry’s Bay Cheese Factory and the historic Hill Top Tavern. 


Joanna Hall


  • 5

    Posted by Don on 22nd Oct 2018

    Like Akaroa but theres not much to do there. Are ships going back into Christchurch again yet?

  • 4
    Rain Rain

    Posted by Pattie on 15th Oct 2018

    Great unless it's raining!

  • 4
    Christchurch Is Better

    Posted by Cherie on 15th Oct 2018

    We've been here on cruises twice. First time we stayed in Akaroa and it's quaint but there's not much to see or do. The next time we took the trip to Christchurch nd thought it was much better.

  • 3
    Not Sure About This

    Posted by Nina on 15th Oct 2018

    Is it okay to swim with these dolphins????