Not far from Christchurch (NZ South Island’s largest city) lies Banks Peninsula, an atmospheric piece of land that juts out into the Pacific Ocean and faces the Antarctic continent. The peninsula is of volcanic origin and is about 1,150 square kilometers in area. Due to its proximity to Christchurch, it is today a well-known daytrip destination for travelers – both locals and foreigners alike. The peninsula is home to a French-inspired colonial town called Akaroa which sits at the heart of the tourist scene in the area.
view of banks peninsula from hilltop
As much of Christchurch CBD was off-limits due to the quake damage, we decided to have this daytrip instead. I had not read much about Akaroa. But what I’ve seen were the breathtaking pictures of Banks Peninsula and I definitely wanted to capture a similar snapshot as well. From Christchurch, we took a bus via Akaroa French Connection for the 1 – 1.5 hour long trip (NZD 45, return). We were picked up from our motel for the weekday morning journey. Since it was neither a holiday nor the weekend, there was only 1 other passenger – an Australian gal – on the bus. Our driver was a friendly chap of about 70 years who had this very calming tone whenever he was doing the narratives.
little river railway station
Our first stop was at Little River, a town approximately in between Christchurch and Akaroa. It was a fairly small tourist town, with the usual array of cafes and art galleries. There’s also an old railway station which is unused. We made a short stop there just to look around, but frankly there wasn’t much to see.
oh… it’s a bee
From Little River, the road rises steeply and twists and turns until we reach what is known as the hilltop. From there, the scenery changed from lakes, farmlands and small houses to rolling hills and green green grass. This was our last stop before we finally reached the town of Akaroa.
Although a town of less than a thousand people, Akaroa is visibly affluent with many city folk establishing vacation homes in the area. Many of the homes are very brightly-painted and French-inspired. It was obvious that a lot of work was taken in order to preserve and beautify the town. We were dropped off at the main wharf to explore the town until about 4PM in the afternoon.
Many tourists who visit Akaroa end up taking the dolphin-watching cruise or rent a bike and cycle around the area’s rolling hills. The town is well-known for hector dolphins, one of the smallest and rarest kind of dolphins in the world. As I did not want to spend, I did not join the cruise nor did I rent a bike. Instead, I just spent my second to the last afternoon in New Zealand walking around the picturesque little town taking pictures.
the very quaint coronation library
But what I did try was the Akaroa Fish and Chips shop – apparently considered an institution. We tried the staple of course as well as a few other fried seafood items. We thought it was just so-so.
war memorial – damaged by the earthquake
view of the town and its many stately homes