A picturesque 90 minutes' drive from Christchurch lies Akaroa, a charming French influenced port cradled in the arms of an ancient volcano. Take in sweeping harbour views and see the outer bays from a hilltop vantage point. In the village itself, spend a leisurely day exploring boutique shops, galleries and gourmet eateries, or swim with the rare Hector's dolphin.
Day 1: Christchurch to Akaroa
Start out from Christchurch early to enjoy the drive with the morning sun on your back and reach Akaroa with the afternoon ahead of you.
The only settlement en route to Akaroa is Little River. Most renowned for the Little River Gallery as well as the adjacent Café & Store. Make sure you stop to recharge before the hills with a coffee or ice cream and local art.
Stop for one of Canterbury's best photo opportunities at the Hilltop Tavern as you look out upon Banks Peninsula and the five bays (what's left of an ancient volcano!).
At the end of your descent, stop by Barrys Bay Cheese to see your favourite cheese made in the traditional manner without modern machinery. Consider taking a gouda or cheddar with you to enjoy on the Akaroa waterfront.
Explore the Akaroa foreshore and township before grabbing an early dinner at Akaroa Fish & Chips. The name might be unassuming but Akaroa Fish & Chips are world famous, choose from an array of fresh seafood and eat your spread in the sun on the waterfront before your evening activity.
Take a tour at dusk to see white-flippered and yellow-eyed penguins in their natural habitat. With only the sound of the native birds and gentle waves against the beach this experience is a must-do for nature and animal enthusiasts.
Day 2: Akaroa to Christchurch
After breakfast be sure to explore the waters Akaroa Harbour. Whether you choose to swim with the rare Hector's dolphin or stay dry and tour the harbour from the comfort of a cruise, your guide will let you in on the peninsula's history and show you their favourite inlets and volcanic cliffs.
Before leaving, draw out the afternoon with a spot of shopping, a visit to the Akaroa Art Gallery and start planning your next visit to the French inspired township of Akaroa!