One of the most beautiful small towns in New Zealand, Akaroa is perfectly positioned on the shores of what was once the crater of a huge volcano. It is home to less than a thousand people, but is the main town on Banks Peninsula, and only an hour and a half from Christchurch.

I’ve visited three times now, and enjoy it for its natural beauty and interesting history. For a short period it was ruled by the French, and home to a small French settlement, though the French character is probably more for the tourists now. The Akaroa Museum well tells the story of the town, including its history as a whaling station.

The Main Wharf is home to dolphin encounter companies and gift shops, but when I last visited in December 2022 there was another resident. A pair of white fronted terns had built their nest on the wharf, and protected by fencing erected around them, had just given birth to a chick, which I caught being fed.

Underneath the wharf were giant stingrays.

And along the waterfront were plenty of shags in the trees.

Also on the waterfront was a well rubbed (in the nose) statue of one of Akaroa’s better known residents, Frank Worsley, the captain on Shackleton’s I’ll fated Endeavour exhibition to Antarctica.

The main beach is rocky but a very pleasant place to go for a swim.

The War Memorial commemorates the 115 men from Akaroa who died during WW1.

The Gaiety dates from 1879, and plenty of other heritage buildings remain.

There are many day walks up the hills behind Akaroa, and it is the start / end for the excellent Banks Track, a varied 2-3 day hike privately run, with gorgeous views, accommodation, and bags can be carried for you.

To finish with some views from Robinsons Bay, close by on main road to Akaroa.

Author: jontycrane

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