29 Jul Take a day trip to Akaroa, New Zealand
It’s no secret that the wonder that is New Zealand is one of my favourite places in the world. Let me introduce you to Akaroa and why I think you really should add it to your ‘to do’. Oh and about that day trip … the assumption is you are in NZ at the time!
On the North Island, 75 km southeast of Christchurch (scenic route is around a 1.5hr drive), located on the Banks Peninsula, you will find the stunning township of Akaroa. The pretty colonial architecture a reminder and reflection of its French and British settlement history.
A heads up that the road coming in is steep and windy but it is so worth it especially for the views. A tip would be to take the road signposted ‘tourist route’. This takes you across the top ridge and you get spectacular views of the whole bay. Oh and we found ourselves driving above the clouds too!
DOLPHINS. DID SOMEONE SAY DOLPHINS?
The harbour in Akaroa, which by the way is part of an extinct volcano crater, is the only place you can find rare Hector’s dolphins. These are also the smallest dolphins in the world growing to a maximum of 1.5m.
It was no surprise then that my kiwi mate Sheree and I opted for the Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise. Operated by Black Cat Cruises with commentary and highlights of sightings of Hector’s dolphins, seals and perhaps a penguin or two.
After a hazy rainy start the sun had come out and we set off for our 2 hour cruise aboard the very comfortable catamaran which had lots of outdoor space for viewing. Oh and covered space too if the weather wasn’t being kind. We had no such problems.
It wasn’t long before we spotted a few Hector’s dolphins and then a few more. And more. There must have been about twenty or so in the pod. To say we were excited is an understatement. I fess up that I might have squealed like a wee piglet too. Especially as the pod swam, jumped and raced with our vessel for ages.
Before too long even our Skipper Hamish, was squealing – ok ok perhaps not like a wee piglet but he was definitely excited. Why? Because amongst the pod was a much bigger different colour dolphin. A Common dolphin.
Check out the pod in action (and perhaps a squeal or two) here. Despite its name, the Common dolphin variety is very rare in these waters. In fact the skipper Hamish, hadn’t seen one in his 10 years of working in the harbour. It even made news headlines.
And we also caught sight of seals basking on the rocks along with a penguin peeking out of the water. So if you do come to Akaroa do check out Black Cat Cruises. They also offer swimming with dolphins, the Diamond Harbour ferry and Quail Island adventures too.
FOOD GLORIOUS FOOD
When it comes to eats, there’s plenty to choose from with just a few of a great selection mentioned here. If fish and chips are your thing head on over to Murphy’s On The Corner which has a fanfare for the best fish and chips. They also have Murphy’s Seafood Stall on the main wharf by the water.
For superb mouth watering local cuisine with a view check out Ma Maison. Outdoor dining – don’t worry there’s also an open fire for when the temperature drops – and those views? Uninterrupted of Daly’s Wharf and Akaroa Harbour. Bliss.
For baked goodies and drinks, head on over to the Giant’s House and the Artist’s Palate cafe. The Giant’s House was the first bank manager’s house built in 1880. As well as lots of original features, the artist, Josie Martin, has created a unique experience with terraced gardens, sculptures and mosaics.
So there you have a suggested day trip in the stunning Akaroa. Go do! Have you been? If so what do you think? Do share and let us know in the comments.
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