Akaroa Things to Do

  • Akaroa Harbor
    Akaroa Harbor
    by kris-t
  • Relaxing in Akaroa with lighthouse view.
    Relaxing in Akaroa with lighthouse view.
    by Kakapo2
  • swimmers in the water near the dolphin boat
    swimmers in the water near the dolphin...
    by Kate-Me

Most Recent Things to Do in Akaroa

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    Black Cat Cruises

    by Kate-Me Updated Apr 27, 2015

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    This is the company you take if you want to go swimming with the dolphins, for $150 for about 2 1/2 hours (you can also go as a watcher from the boat for $79.)

    I'd been swimming with Hectors dolphins once before and found the water freezing even on a nice day and with wetsuits, so elected to go as a watcher. My boyfriend, who loves the water and doesn't seem to feel the cold, decided he'd go in with the dolphins.
    Unfortunately once the 12 or so swimmers were in the water after a close sighting, there were only about 5 dolphins and they only lingered a couple of minutes before moving on. A few minutes later and some distance further on, there was another pod sighting, and the swimmers went back into the water but again the dolphins didn't linger, more or less swam right through the middle of the group of swimmers and kept going.
    However from the boat I managed to see the dolphins from close up a few times as they came out from under the boat.

    This cruise stays in the harbour/river and doesn't go out into the part where the sea meets the harbour (if you want a cruise like that, which sees other attractions too, I recommend the Akaroa Dolphins boat - but I don't think you can go into the water from that one, it's a watching only cruise). We went on both cruises to have the best of both worlds. Commentary about the dolphins and Akaroa was very good.

    Hectors dolphins our Black Cat cruise boat swimmers in the water near the dolphin boat pic taken by my boyfriend from the water
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    St Patrick's Catholic Church - exterior

    by Kate-Me Updated Apr 26, 2015

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    The walk follows a circular route, which on the way back, if you turn right, takes you along a residential street past several houses which are old enough to have early French connections, plus the house said to be the oldest one in Canterbury, then turn back and go back downhill, where you will see the Catholic Church, (just before you are back in the town again. )

    The first settlers to Akaroa were Catholics.
    St Patricks was built in 1865, while many of them were still living, so it is a link back to them in some ways.

    the lovely wooden church view from the church doorway looking to harbour
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    2015 Akaroa Dolphins cruise

    by Kate-Me Updated Apr 26, 2015

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    Another excellent cruise with great commentary, and free drink and nice biscuit included.
    We also got to go out to the mouth of the harbour where it meets the sea, and see the Paua pearl farm and Salmon farm from a distance, a colony of Cormorants on the rocks, and a seal colony too. Plus the dolphins too of course - of which we saw about 50 in all, so were very glad we'd gone out on a 2nd cruise. Approx NZ $75 per person for about 2 hours on the water.

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    War Memorial under repair (March 2015)

    by Kate-Me Updated Apr 26, 2015

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    The War Memorial is under scaffold, being repaired after the 2011 Earthquake.
    Hopefully it will be restored to its former glory and visible again soon.

    The war memorial is in a little enclosed rose garden/park flanked by palm trees on the main street in Rue Lavaud. From one direction, one looks at the hills, and the other, at the sea.

    The memorial is entitled
    “Our Glorious dead”, in memory of those lost in the Great War. There are some obvious French descendants names on the list.

    as it was  - War Memorial
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    Akaroa Museum

    by Kate-Me Updated Apr 26, 2015

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    The museum is only small, but rather interesting (especially the room that deals specifically with the French settlers, with pictures and artefacts.)
    There is also a video about the settled history of Akaroa including its maori heritage.

    There's also a facility there for people to be able to conduct research, and examine their records.
    It's open every day from 10.30 am - 4.30 pm.

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    One of the most beautiful War Memorials in NZ

    by Kakapo2 Updated Nov 24, 2012

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    There are larger war memorials in New Zealand, and higher ones, and, of course, also more important ones. But you will not find a lot of more beautiful ones and in a lovlier setting than the one in Akaroa.

    The foundation stone was laid on 31 March 1922 on the site of the former Akaroa Borough School, and it was unveiled on 12 March 1924.

    The memorial is a Gothic pavillion, designed by H. St. A. Murray. You can see it from afar as it is crowned by an obelisk-like kind of spire which has a cross at the top.

    On several panels you find the names of the men from Banks Peninsula who died in the South African War and First World War; the names of those who fell in World War II were later added.

    A beautiful garden surrounds the memorial, sheltered by a high hedge, with lots of roses on the manicured lawn and four spectacular established palm trees.

    The location is beside the Visitor Centre in Rue Lavaud.

    Update November 2012

    The War Memorial has been slightly damaged in the earthquakes. It is fenced off but you can still sit on the lawn and seats of the garden that surrounds it.

    Akaroa's War Memorial near the Visitor Centre.
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    Coronation Library - not really in Use anymore

    by Kakapo2 Updated Nov 24, 2012

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    That’s a truly lovely building you cannot miss, located at the end of the beach and the start of the promenade (103 Rue Jolie), just across the street from the bakery.

    However, the Coronation Library is not really in use anymore after a combined school and public library has opened next to the school at the corner of Rue Jolie and Selwyn Avenue, just further down Rue Jolie, and then to the right.

    The Coronation Library building opened on 22 May 1875. It got its new frontage in 1911, giving it an Arts and Crafts/English Domestic Revival look – well, I read this detailed description on the Civic Trust website ;-)

    The Library was erected to house the Literacy Institute that had formed in 1863. With the renovation in 1911 also came the name change into Akaroa Coronation Library, referring to the coronation of King George V.

    Update 2012

    This building has also been closed after the earthquakes, like so many other buildings that were not badly damaged but considered unsafe because their strength is significantly under the new building code. Be assured, the Coronation Library is as beautiful as ever from the outside - and you will have a look at it one hundred per cent!

    The library reminds of King George's V coronation.
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    Akaroa Museum - small but nice

    by Kakapo2 Updated Nov 24, 2012

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    Update 2012

    Akaroa's Museum has been considered unsafe quite a while after the earthquakes and is now closed. The collections are in a safe place until its reopening.



    “Musée très intéressant”, they write on their sign on the footpath. Ok, the accent on the “très” is the wrong way round, d’aigu instead of grave, but the French is close to perfect. And as it is just funny, it does not matter – as they also claim that Akaroa’s small museum is better than Te Papa. This probably explains why you have to pay a NZ$ 4 entry fee, and Te Papa is free ;-)

    The Akaroa Museum focuses particularly on the history of Akaroa and Banks Peninsula. They show a 20 min film on Akaroa's history. Exhibitions are changing. Museum shop.

    The Langlois-Etéveneaux House, one of the oldest in the South Island, the Court House, and the Custom House (1852) at Daly Wharf are also part of the museum.

    Opening hours
    • Summer (Nov - April): 10.30am - 4.30pm
    • Winter (May - Oct): 10.30am - 4pm

    Admission
    • Adults $ 4, children $ 1.

    Un mus��e tr��s int��ressant... ;-)
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    Update: The Duvauchelle Hotel has gone

    by Kakapo2 Updated Nov 24, 2012

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    Update May 2011 - Update Nov. 2012

    The Duvauchelle Hotel was badly damaged in the earthquake that rocked Canterbury on 4 September 2010. Parts of it have been demolished just now. They will rebuild and hope to be up and running again by Christmas.

    Nov. 2012
    ... which was a nice dream. Another Christmas is looming and there is no sign of any building activity.



    The Duvauchelle Hotel at the northern tip of Akaroa Harbour, right on SH 75, about 10 km from Akaroa, is said to be the oldest one in the country.

    The hotel is named after the settlement, and the settlement was named by two French brothers named Duvauchelle in 1840, after the arrival of the French ship “Comte de Paris”.

    The hotel was built by François Lelièvre at some time before 1850. It had frequently changing names, starting as the “Travellers Rest”, and later (among many other names) “The Somerset”, “Hotel des Pêcheurs”, etc. In 1971 the then publican named it “Robbers Return” as the guests were always complaining he was robbing them.

    The family of the owner who ran the hotel from 1861 to 1874 (Ben Shadbolt) are still running the farm across the road.

    In the hotel flyer I read a funny detail about what publicans had to sign to get a license. For example, to supply accommodation, water and oats for at least two horses, to be sworn in and act as constable, and to keep a safe boat to ferry passengers to Akaroa. Try to get one of those flyers in the hotel, they contain a lot of interesting historic photos and information. The website (www.duvauchellehotel.co.nz) does not work at the moment (end May 2008), the account has been closed – perhaps they have not paid their fees… ;-) But I can assure you, the hotel and pub are open ;-)

    You cannot miss the hotel. It is right on SH 75, on the right side if coming from Christchurch. A huge kiwi (bird) sculpture with a chef’s hat on the head is in front of the verandah.

    You get several kinds of accommodation at this hotel. First of all they have ten fully self-contained motel units (with kitchenettes) off the street, with panoramic views of the bay.

    Across the street are backpackers units ($ 25 pp) for which you get the key at the hotel.

    The hotel has a main bar, lounge bar and huge garden bar plus a separate restaurant for private functions. They also have tables and benches on the verandah. When we sat there in the sunshine we were entertained by fantails chasing insects under the roof.

    The interior is really fantastic, reminding of the early days of the pioneers.

    They advertise to have the finest and biggest meals on the peninsula (see on photo 2). The latter might be true, but I have problems to agree on “finest”. My husband’s wedges were really dark and not crisp, and my creamy bacon pasta contained cream and pasta, and probably also bacon but that tasted more like ham. The onions were more boiled than glazed and swam in the liquid cream, and unfortunately also in sugar. Either they had used sugar instead of salt, so it could have been an accident. If I want to eat something as sweet as this I normally order a cake or icecream… The service though, was very friendly, and we enjoyed our drinks and the nice atmosphere. Perhaps we should stick to Akaroa salmon and T-Bone Steak with prawns – but we wanted something simple for lunch and not a full meal.

    On photo 2 you can see the food.

    A sad reminder of the good old days in Duvauchelle The portions are big...
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    The Visitor Centre NOT in the former Post-Office

    by Kakapo2 Updated Nov 24, 2012

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    Update Nov. 2012

    Nearly two years after the first big earthquake the Christchurch city council's engineers have found out that the old post office building is unsafe, therefore it was closed - and with it the visitor centre. This has been temporarily relocated to 120 Rue Jolie (corner with Selwyn Ave). It is easy to find. Rue Lavaud (which is the main road coming into Akaroa) becomes Rue Jolie at the point where you would turn right into the promenade (which is one-way traffic in the opposite direction anyway).



    Almost certainly you will have a look at Akaroa’s former Post Office as it is now home to the Visitor Centre. It is located in 78 Rue Lavaud, the main street, opposite the (no more striking...) Langlois-Etéveneaux House, Akaroa’s oldest private home, and the Bank of New Zealand building.

    The first post office was built at the site of the present building in 1856. It was a single-storey wooden building. It was replaced by the present building in 1915. Like the Coronation Library, it was influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement. This is a rarity for post offices built in this era, as those were mostly in the much more dominant Edwardian style. This one blends much better into Akaroa’s architecture.

    It ceased serving as a post office in 1993 when it was sold by NZ Post. After that it has housed the Council Service Centre and the information centre.

    The “Place de la Poste” named little square beside the building reminds of the original purpose – just where the Charles Meryon statue is standing.

    You can book all kinds of activities at the Information Centre if you do not want to do it beforehand on the internet. In the peak season it is well advisable to book in advance, as Akaroa can be very crowded, and some activities (swimming with dolphins, penguin watching) do not accommodate big groups.

    Hours:
    Daily 9am - 5pm

    Detail of the Visitor Centre.
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    Explore Akaroa

    by al2401 Updated Aug 3, 2012

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    The little harbourside town of Akaroa has a bit to offer the visitor. Cruises on the harbour to see dolphins and penguins are popular as is a walk to see the historic lighthouse. There are many wlaks and hikes through the surrounding hills.

    For those who are not so active why not get pampered at one of the spas and then stroll among the colonial buildings and dine at one of the many cafes and restaurants.

    The shopping is good here - especially Blue Pearl jewelry.

    Akaroa Harbour Akaroa Akaroa Harbour and Lighthouse Akaroa Akaroa Lighthouse
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    Sailing with history

    by TheWanderingCamel Updated Jan 20, 2012

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    The Fox II is a red-sailed beauty - the oldest gaffed rigged ketch in New Zealand. Built in Auckland in 1922, her home port nowadays is Akaroa, and an afternoon in her company spent exploring the harbour is a fantastic experience. Whether you choose to actively crew or simply sit back and enjoy the peace and quiet of cruising under sail, it's a great way to see the harbour, learn some of its history and meet some of the wildlife that inhabit this lovely place.

    As the ketch makes its way right out through the headland to open sea, the skipper tells stories of the history of the Harbour, both Maori and Pakeha. Sailing close to shore in places, the cruise takes you past interesting natural and historical features such as the extraordinary rock formations that tell of the harbour's volcanic origins, the Maori village of Ônuku - a place of great significance to the Maori of the South Island and Greenpoint where, following the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, the Britiish raised the Union flag prior to the arrival of the French settlers who arrived soon after.

    Throughout the months of summer (October to May) the Harbour is home to Hectors dolphins - the smallest of all the species. It's a rare cruise that doesn't get good sightings of these delightful creatures as the slower speed and quieter atmosphere means they will usually approach quite closely and even swim alongside. You'll need to be quicker with your camera than I was though to get a photo.
    The seals are more obliging. The rocky shore on the north side of the harbour is home to a couple of colonies and, again, as the quiet approach doesn't disturb them, you can get really good sightings.

    Grand old lady Daley Ages old Greenpoint Slink seals
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    Join the mail run

    by TheWanderingCamel Updated Jan 20, 2012

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    This was just the nicest way to spend a morning!

    The Eastern Bays Scenic Mail Run delivers not only the mail and the morning newspapers to the little hamlets and isolated farmhouses of the Outer Bays of the Banks Peninsula - it also delivers a unique opportunity for visitors to ride with the mailman over some 120kms of backroads, down steep hills into 10 of the peninsula's beautiful little bays and up to the highest points of the crater's crest with spectacular views all the way - including a marvellously panoramic view of both sides of the peninsula from a height of 2000m

    Leaving from the Post Office promptly at 9am, the trip takes about 4 and a half hours. Along the way you'll have time to visit little churches, walk along quiet sandy beaches, stop at scenic viewpoints and enjoy a delicious morning tea break. Gerry Trott, the mailman, was a mine of information about the history and personalities of the area and the morning was a real highlight of our Akaroa holiday. Don't miss it!

    2012 Update Gerry has retired but the mail run is still operating. All the details can be found here
    The mail bus can carry eight passengers, and is very popular, so booking is advisable.
    Reservations may be made through the AkaroaInformation Centre (03) 304 8600 or direct with the new operators, Robin and Jo (03) 304 8526 between 5.00pm and 7.00pm.

    The Eastern Bays mail van Morning tea time Post
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    Duvauchelle - Have a Break in "Du-wot-shelley"

    by Kakapo2 Updated May 9, 2011

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    As mentioned in a general tip about the French street signs in Akaroa, the worst thing about Duvauchelle is the pronounciation. If you pronounce it correctly in French nobody understands you, so just say “Du-wot-shelley”, with the stress on the second syllable, if you want locals to know that you are talking about their place. (Ah, and many also love to add an –s at the end, so you get “Duvauchelles”… or: “Du-wot-shelleys”. Just be prepared for the worst case LOL)

    Adding to the linguistic torture is the fact that the two French brothers the tiny township is named after never took residence. They bought the land from the Nanto-Bordelaise Society but somehow never made it to the place. Instead, they settled in Akaroa.

    Duvauchelle is the perfect starting point to explore Onawe Peninsula, this thinnish piece of land reaching far out into Akaroa Harbour, separating the head of the harbour into Barrys Bay on one and Duvauchelle and Robinsons Bay on the other side (permit needed; info in Onawe tip). And it is only a short drive to French Farm which is well-known for its good food and wine. Since the Duvauchelle Store & Bistro has reopened it is highly praised for its fantastic food.

    (Update 8 August 2008: At the moment the Bistro is only open on Thu, Fri and Sat nights, and Sun + Mon from 10am to 5pm. Phone 03 - 304 5807)

    A good choice of accommodation, with the Duvauchelle Hotel being the biggest provider, offering hotel, motels, and backpacker accommodation. There is also a campground, the Duvauchelle Reserve Motor Camp (Seafield Road, phone 03 304-5777), as well as some holiday homes. Check here: http://www.holidayhouses.co.nz/Duvauchelle.asp

    Update May 2011

    The Duvauchelle Hotel has been badly damaged in the earthquake on 4 September 2010. It has been now partly demolished. The publican says they hope they will be up and running again by Christmas 2011.

    The Duvauchelle Backpackers Motel.
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    Banks Peninsula

    by AusPinay Updated Apr 5, 2011

    Banks Peninsula forms the most prominent volcanic feature of the South Island. As Akaroa stands on the heart of this former volcano that existed in ancient times, this town is a main gateway to this peninsula, apart from Christchurch & Lyttleton, which is spectacular! It has an area of approximately 1,150 square kilometres (440 sq mi) and encompasses two large harbours and many smaller bays and coves. Crhistchurch is within north of this peninsula.

    breathtaking views as our ship approaches it South Island's volcanic features view of the valley below another view of the peninsual
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