Akaroa was orginally set up by the French in their attempt to claim the local area for King & country. While the original 63 French settlers were at sea, sailing towards what they believed was a small piece of France in the South Pacific NZ Governor William Hobson despatched Capt Stanley, on "HMS Britomart", with an English flag. Soon after arrival, the 63 French settlers on hearing the truth that they were now living in a British Colony, were offered passage and land grants in Tahiti or the Marquesas. None accepted and their legacy is a beautiful small town.
Akaroa is a great day trip from Christchurch of just over 80km's. The trip takes you past Little River, over Hill Top (worth a stop), past Duvauchelles pub and on, a few km's later, to Rue Jolie and the start of Akaroa. If you follow Rue Jolie to its end you will find the Garden of Tane and the very old cemetary which is worth a walk around.
There are many other activities that can be enjoyed including wildlife cruises, sailing, swimming with the dolphins, boat hire and sea kayaking plus seal and penguin colony tours.
Akaroa is a small community about 75 kilometers from Christchurch, which is a former French and British settlement located inside an ancient volcano. We took a morning trip out to this beautiful little town, and did a bit of shopping. It is also known for its beautiful harbor where you can take a variety of different sea cruises or animal adventures such as swimming with dolphins.
For more information, feel free to visit my Akaroa page.
It's not really off the beaten path, but when your in Christchurch there are a couple of places that you should really go to complete the whole trip. 1 is Akaroa, this is a town that was first settled by the French. It's about an hour or so drive from Christchurch and is just a fascinating wee town. All the streets are actually rues ie: Rue Lavaud. There are some really cool boutique shops, cafes, and some pretty good restaurants, I would probably advise staying a couple of days if you've got time. Also, on your way through to Akaroa from Christchurch, you pass a place called Barry's Bay, this is almost directly after you've complete the big hill descent, you'll know it when you get there! There is a cheese factory there that has some awesome cheese, oh yeah, and don't forget the Akaroa Winery! Definite must!
# 2 is Kaikoura. Kai is food in Maori, and Koura can roughly be translated as Crayfish in Maori...and this is what Kaikoura is famous for....food Crayfish...lots of it. Kaikoura is about 2-3 hours North of Christchurch...just follow state highway 1. Kaikoura is not only known for Crayfish, but is also known for Swim with the Dolphins, Whalewatch, and a lot of people go diving around the area. It is also probably one of the South Island's surf mecca's with Kahutara, Maungamaunu, Meatworks, Graveyards and a few other surfable breaks...Kahutara and Maugamaunu possibly 2 of the more well known breaks but Meatworks is by far the most grunty...short rides, and usually you'll be contending with some pretty high caliber surfers. Maungamaunu is probably New Zealand's second best point break after Raglan.
Just some general info anyway!
It's really a wonderful peninsula. Take your time especially if you like to walk.
See my Travelogue for more informations.
Thanks to RICHMORS for helping me editing the picture.
The nearby town Akaroa (south east of Christchurch) is worth a day trip, and one can find the coach to Akaroa from the Catheral Square which take 1 hour.