Things to do in
Akaroa

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Our most recommended things to do in Akaroa

Akaroa: 4WD Safari and Guided Sea-Kayaking Experience

1. Akaroa: 4WD Safari and Guided Sea-Kayaking Experience

Enjoy a memorable sea-kayaking experience from Akaroa with two departure options. No experience is necessary because the trips are run in settled safe conditions by an experienced and knowledgeable guide.  Depart from Akaroa for a scenic drive in a 4WD minivan over the crater rim of the Akaroa volcano to Pohatu Flea Bay. Learn about the region from your local guide and, during the afternoon trip, stop for photo opportunities along the way. Then, it is time to gear up and climb into the double kayaks. Your safety is the top priority and the experience can be mind-blowing with the right sea conditions. Explore the outer coast of Pohatu Marine Reserve and marvel at its spectacular towering cliffs, rock stacks, reefs, and deep sea caves. Flea Bay Island and the impressive island arch can be reached in settled sea conditions. Marvel at the diverse wildlife and marine species such as penguins, seals, various seabirds, and possibly the world’s smallest dolphin.

Akaroa Harbour 2-Hour Nature Cruise

2. 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: Pohatu Little Penguins 3-Hour Evening Experience

3. Akaroa: Pohatu Little Penguins 3-Hour Evening Experience

Join the tour from Akaroa for a scenic drive by a 4WD minivan over the crater rim of the Akaroa volcano to Pohatu/Flea Bay. Listen as your guide shares with you the history and unique wildlife of Akara. Stop for photo opportunities where you can gaze across Akaroa harbor and enjoy stunning views of the endless Pacific Ocean. On arrival, walk around the colony to monitor nesting sites, collect data, and make sure that the birds are doing well. Spot the penguins undisturbed, socializing on the water, and with darkness falling, a very high likelihood of some returning to shore. Binoculars and camouflage gear are provided to maximize viewing abilities. Darkness will signal the end of the activity, as artificial lighting disturbs the birds so is not used. At certain times of the year, you may even see some of the rehabilitation efforts, such as supplemental feeding.

Christchurch: Akaroa & Banks Peninsula Wild Penguin Eco-Tour

4. Christchurch: Akaroa & Banks Peninsula Wild Penguin Eco-Tour

Enjoy a full day adventure taking in the breath-taking scenery of the rugged Banks Peninsula coastline and farmlands. Stopover at scenic lookouts and visit quaint Little River Gallery as well as the award-winning Barrys Bay Cheese factory at Duvauchelles.  The highlight of the day is encountering wild Penguins at Flea Bay, Akaroa on the Banks Peninsula. Discover the penguin colony in their natural habitat at remote Pohatu (the largest Australasian Little Penguin colony on mainland New Zealand). Your tour includes a catered lunch, refreshments, and expert guided tour of the penguin colony by a local family of conservationists. Learn about the area’s rich history, native flora and fauna, and Pohatu’s unique penguin conservation program. Be greeted by the farm's friendly pet sheep and see White-Flippered penguins as the people of Pohatu monitor nesting sites.  If visiting between mid-November and mid-February, you may even be lucky enough to see rehabilitation efforts such as supplemental feedings and swim therapy. Pohatu have been conserving the Little Penguins for over 30 years and have 4 conservation awards for their efforts in penguin conservation, protection, and monitoring. Spending time with Pohatu even helps the preservation of these beautiful birds for future generations. 

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: Pohatu Penguins Scenic Nature 2-Hour or 4-Hour Tour

6. Akaroa: Pohatu Penguins Scenic Nature 2-Hour or 4-Hour Tour

Join a 4WD eco-tourism safari to the spectacular award-winning Wild Side Conservation area. Depart Akaroa for a scenic drive in a 4WD minivan over the crater rim of the Akaroa volcano to Pohatu Flea Bay. Along the way, learn the region's history from your local guide. Stop for photo opportunities with views of Akaroa harbor and the Pacific Ocean. Arrive at a local family's farm where you can meet friendly pet sheep and hand-feed them for a real kiwi experience. In season, monitor nesting sites with your guide and learn about the conservation work done for the largest colony of little penguins on mainland New Zealand. At certain times of the year, you may even see some of the rehabilitation efforts such as supplemental feeding. The extended 4-hour tour includes visits to the spectacular cliff-tops of Akaroa Heads Lighthouse Reserve. You will have more time to enjoy the area with homemade muffins and cakes, and more time to see the native wildlife and to explore Flea Bay. This activity directly funds the conservation work that takes place at Pohatu Bay to protect the penguins.

Akaroa Self-Guided Audio Tour

7. Akaroa Self-Guided Audio Tour

Download a vibrant MP3 self-guided audio tour combined with a fully detailed map of the area of your tour. Nestled on the east coast, the quiet seaside town of Akaroa is best known for its volcanic hills and the dolphins that are found in the bay. In this audio tour, you will enjoy the tranquil setting and the stunning natural views along the harbour and of the Old Lighthouse, learning about its interesting French history at the Akaroa Museum. You will also see the Town Wharf, the Whale Trypots, the War Memorial, the Corner of Lavaud and Balguerie, St Patrick's Catholic Church, the Old French Cemetery, the Giant's House, the French Forecourt, and Rue Jolie. Known as the Paris of New Zealand, this tour will delight and captivate you.

Akaroa Harbour 3-Hour Eco Tour by Sea Kayak

8. Akaroa Harbour 3-Hour Eco Tour by Sea Kayak

Experience the natural wonders of Akaroa Harbour by sea kayak on a 3-hour eco-friendly tour. You’ll take in one of New Zealand's most scenic and ecologically diverse natural environments. A highly experienced kayak guide leads each small group (maximum of 8 persons) to ensure a personal, informative, and safe experience. You’ll paddle to stunning remote beaches, where time stands still, and explore inlets and bays and the extinct, sea-flooded volcanic crater that protects the harbor from the open Pacific Ocean. Discover the stunning beauty of Akaroa on the adventure of a lifetime. Your guide will tell you about some of the rarest sea creatures in the world, that live right here!

Akaroa: Swimming with Wild Dolphins 3-Hour Experience

9. 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: 24-hour Overnight Pohatu Penguin Package

10. Akaroa: 24-hour Overnight Pohatu Penguin Package

Discover the award-winning Wildside of Banks Peninsula and its unique fauna and flora on this 24-hour tour.  Start your adventure in a four-weel drive mini-bus from Akaroa and travel over the crater rim of the ancient Akaroa volcano to the Akaroa Head Lighthouse. Marvel at the scenic reserve that stands on high cliffs and take in the views of the endless Pacific ocean.  Enjoy a self-guided bush walk through Tutakakahikura scenic reserve, an ancient forest with 400 years old native trees to finally arrive at Pohatu marine reserve where you will spend the night. Settle down and use the time to relax. Enjoy safe swimming beaches before your evening penguin tour in season.  The following day you can go on an additional adventure if you would like. Join the sea-kayaking safari and discover the wildlife of the Pohatu marine reserve. See New Zealand fur seals, many species of sea-birds, and the frequent visit of Hector's dolphins. The tour runs from midday to midday but specific departure times can be arranged.

Frequently asked questions about Akaroa

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What people are saying about Akaroa

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 205 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

beautiful trip around the harbour. friendly and informative. Saw pod of dolphins quite close and many different sea birds, seals etc.

A great trip, our guide was really knowledgeable. We saw lots of seals and some penguins. The drive over was also spectacular.

Informative commentary, comfortable trip with outstanding access to wildlife and natural features

Highly recommended to everyone to do this activity.