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Akaroa Harbour

Akaroa Harbour: Our most recommended tours and activities

Akaroa Harbour 2-Hour Nature Cruise

1. Akaroa Harbour 2-Hour Nature Cruise

Experience an award-winning nature cruise of Akaroa Habor. Discover wildlife like dolphins, seals, penguins, and other seabirds. Gaze upon giant volcanic sea cliffs and hear about Akaroa's fascinating past.  Travel on a modern catamaran, which is perfect for viewing the natural wonders of Akaroa Harbour. There's lots of room on the two decks for unimpeded viewing and plenty of covered seating for shade and shelter. Inside, for your convenience you'll find a bar and washrooms. Each cruise is fully narrated by your skipper who has extensive knowledge of the nature, wildlife and the history of the harbour. As Akaroa Harbour was a live volcano millions of years ago, there are many spectacular ancient lava flows to be seen. One cliff has a sheer 500-foot face and a fascinating history, while Nikau Palm Gully is the southernmost limit for these tropical palm trees. There is also the incredible Scenery Nook, an amazing pink, purple and red volcanic amphitheater that will take your breath away.

Akaroa: Swimming with Wild Dolphins 3-Hour Experience

2. Akaroa: Swimming with Wild Dolphins 3-Hour Experience

Swim with the endangered Hector’s Dolphin, the world’s rarest and smallest oceanic dolphin. On New Zealand’s ultimate dolphin experience, you’ll have the chance to see and swim with Hector's dolphins close up, in the wild.  Check-in at Akaroa’s main wharf and meet the friendly crew who will provide you with a warm wetsuit, mask, snorkel, booties, gloves, and a hood if necessary. Climb aboard the jet-powered catamaran and cruise out into the sheltered harbor. The highly trained crew will give you a safety briefing and explain how to interact responsibly with the dolphins.  With only 12 swimmers permitted per vessel, you’ll have a greater chance of seeing the dolphins up close. Gear up and slip into the tranquil harbor waters to join the dolphins their natural habitat. The covered vessel has no propellers, making it safer for you and the dolphins. Warm up in the heated cabin or take a hot shower afterwards. Hector's dolphins are protected in Akaroa Harbor by a marine mammal sanctuary. The tour operator was the first cruise boat company in the world to gain the coveted Green Globe 21, an international program to ensure best environmental practices. A portion of every ticket sale goes towards the research and conservation of Hector's dolphins.

Akaroa: Dolphin Nature Cruise

3. Akaroa: Dolphin Nature Cruise

Embark on a journey of discovery with the knowledgable crew and expert dolphin-spotting dogs, as they unveil the breathtaking highlights, enchanting magic, and captivating wonder that Akaroa Harbour has to offer. This company holds a Department of Conservation Marine Mammal Viewing Permit, meaning legally they are able to take guests to view dolphins & seals. Only two permitted companies operate all year round. For conservation reasons, they do not swim with the dolphins. Their luxurious low-lying catamaran provides a closer encounter with the rare Hector's dolphins. Along the way, you will also learn about the incredible history & see NZ fur seals, penguins, seabirds, sea caves & spectacular volcanic formations. Enjoy a complimentary drink of local NZ wine, beer, or juice, as well as delicious home baking. A 100% locally owned & operated family business, going back 7 generations to the area, who are committed to raising awareness with a portion of your fare going towards conservation efforts protecting the precious wildlife & marine environment. Please note, they have a high success rate with dolphin sightings all year round, as we are in a hotspot for the Hector's dolphins. However, as the dolphins are wild they can never guarantee to see them. If your tour does not see a dolphin, you will be offered another trip free of charge. No refunds will be given in the event of not seeing dolphins. To learn more please visit their website.

Akaroa: Scenic Coastline Wildlife Cruise

4. Akaroa: Scenic Coastline Wildlife Cruise

Join us for a wildlife tour that explores the spectacular volcanic coastline and abundant wildlife of Banks Peninsula and Akaroa. Our tour numbers are kept limited, offering you a small and intimate tour that will take you where others can’t. Some of the wildlife you’ll get to see include little blue penguins and an array of seabirds. Our friendly and knowledgeable crew love meeting and talking with our guests and Scruffy, our friendly boat dog, joins us on afternoon trips! Tony, a real Kiwi, has been exploring the waters around the Peninsula since the 1960s. He’ll entertain you with his the stories of his adventures and share his enthusiasm for this wonderful environment and stunning wildlife. Our characterful and comfortable boat - Wairiri, is a 41-foot Kauri Launch built in 1964. Our tours specialise in small groups and enough space to move around the boat for the best wildlife viewing and photo opportunities! Tony often still has a lobster pot out and we pull it up on some of our trips. We never know what we find in it: Lobster, octopus, conger eel, starfish and sand sharks are just a few of the creatures we might have caught.

From Christchurch: Helicopter Flight to Akaroa

5. From Christchurch: Helicopter Flight to Akaroa

Embark on a helicopter flight from Christchurch that follows the spectacular rugged coastline until you head inland to Akaroa harbour. The locals will tell you that no trip to the Christchurch area can be complete without a visit to Akaroa, the jewel in Banks Peninsula’s crown. On the way, discover the lush forests and grasslands that run down the hillsides to the azure water of the endless bays, fed by the Pacific Ocean itself. Upon arrival at Akaroa explore its excellent shops, cafés, and restaurants. Early French settlers gave Akaroa its heritage and distinct French feel that is reflected in the names of the streets and local bays.

Akaroa: Electric Mountain Bike and Sea Kayak Adventure

6. Akaroa: Electric Mountain Bike and Sea Kayak Adventure

Enjoy two activities in one day! This is the only way to see Akaroa if you are an outdoor lover! Jump on the latest model of electric mountain bikes and follow your local guide as you climb to the top of the crater or enjoy a coastal cruise. Both routes have uninterrupted ocean views over the stunning harbour. There will be plenty of photo opportunities so don't forget your camera! Now its time to get the arms moving, join a sea kayak safari and paddle through the marine reserve with the local guide. You can see caves, lots of species of marine life and birds and if you are lucky you may cross paths with the local Hector Dolphins, NZ fur seals, or white flippered penguins! Get the best of both worlds as you pedal and paddle your way through this action-packed unforgettable day of adventure in beautiful Akaroa. You have the option of which activity you want to do first.

Other Sightseeing Options in Akaroa Harbour

Want to discover all there is to do in Akaroa Harbour? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Akaroa Harbour

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 164 reviews

Easy to book, easy to board, great viewing no matter where you decide to sit. Was a reasonably calm day so our usually queasy traveller was perfectly fine. Really interesting local history and seeing the wildlife was amazing

Great organization, great pilot who gave us an unforgettable experience. It's expensive, of course, but totally worth it.

Friendly and informative crew - saw lots of beautiful scenery and wildlife.

We had an excellent time, highly recommend this trip!

Highly recommended to everyone to do this activity.