A scenic 90-minute drive from Christchurch, Akaroa feels a world away from the 9-to-5 grind of the massive metropolis.
This historic township in Canterbury’s Banks Peninsula is house to round 750 everlasting residents and well-known for its French flavour, spectacular harbour and abundance of wildlife.
Not so way back, Akaroa’s streets (or rues, as they’re recognized in these components) had been teeming with camera-toting day-trippers and travellers from far-flung locations.
However with cruise ships nonetheless off-limits resulting from Covid-19 restrictions, there’s by no means been a greater time to savour its many charms, sans the vacationer hordes.
With that in thoughts, here is an itinerary for these in search of a fun-filled weekend break on this small however vigorous city.
9.30am: Refuel at Rona’s
Begin your day with breakfast at Rona’s cafe. In addition to serving first-rate flat whites, this common hangout on Rue Lavaud does a imply croissant (baked freshly in-house) and ache au chocolat, together with heartier fare (assume eggs Benedict, avocado and halloumi on toast).
Whilst you’re sipping your cup of joe, try the small however lovingly-curated assortment of books on the market.
74 Rue Lavaud,7520. For bookings and opening occasions, see ronas.co.nz
10.15am: Store like an area at Akaroa Farmers Market
From October to April, the Akaroa Farmers Market pitches up each Saturday on the grounds of the St Patrick’s Catholic Church.
Showcasing one of the best regionally sourced produce and merchandise from across the peninsula, you are certain to search out one thing that takes your fancy. We picked up some smoked cheese, home made garlic sausage and oak-smoked salmon – scrumptious, albeit at artisanal costs. To keep away from purchaser’s regret, make the most of the samples supplied by the pleasant stallholders.
After you’ve got rubbed shoulders with the locals, poke your head inside the enduring church, constructed from timber by Christchurch architects Mountfort and Bury again in 1864. Admire the intricate stained glass window and Latin inscriptions, or mild a candle and say a prayer, in the event you’re so inclined.
29 Rue Lavaud, 7520. For more information, go to facebook/akaroafarmersmarket
11am: Uncover the world’s historical past at Akaroa Museum
Subsequent, take a brief stroll again down Rue Lavaud to the Akaroa Museum, the place you possibly can swot up on the surprisingly wealthy historical past of Banks Peninsula.
There may be a powerful assortment of artefacts on show detailing the social and cultural historical past of the area, together with tales of the primary French, Belgian and German settlers on the Comte de Paris ship and their modern-day descendants.
It’s also possible to learn all concerning the actions of murderous mid-Nineteenth century pirate William “Bully” Hayes (who inexplicably has a restaurant named after him). However be at liberty to skip this youngster kidnapper in favour of heroic sailor Frank Worsley, captain of Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance ship throughout its ill-fated Antarctic expedition (and certainly a extra deserving candidate for a waterfront institution).
There are two heritage buildings – the outdated Akaroa Courtroom Home and Customized Home – to take a look at, with a 20-minute video on Akaroa’s previous performed on a loop. The museum is open from 10am-4pm, seven days per week. Entry is free, however donations are welcome.
71 Rue Lavaud, 7520. For opening hours, see akaroamuseum.org.nz
12.00pm: Take pleasure in fish and chips by the harbour
No journey to Akaroa could be full with out a go to to this family-run favorite on the nook of Rue Jolie and Church Avenue.
The fish at Murphy’s on the Nook is caught contemporary from the harbour and contains every part from perch and brill to elephant fish and flounder – no matter leads to the web on that exact day.
On a pleasant day (and Akaroa has loads of these), get your meal to go and luxuriate in a generously-sized feast on a bench by the close by waterfront. A hearty lunch will set you again lower than $20.
7 Church Avenue, 7520. For menus, go to facebook.com/murphysonthecorner
An Akaroa dolphin cruise firm makes use of specially-trained dolphin canine to assist discover one of many world’s rarest dolphins.
12.30pm: Be a part of dolphin-spotting canine on a harbour cruise
A few of Akaroa’s hardest working residents are of the canine selection. Pups Albie, Buster, Moana and Jet work on a rostered-basis on the award-winning Akaroa Dolphins harbour cruise, serving to the people on board spot the uncommon Hector’s dolphins that frequent these components.
In addition to dolphins, these waters are additionally house to an array of different wildlife, from New Zealand fur seals and white-flippered penguins to the occasional whales and orcas. The captain will fill you in on the world’s volcanic historical past, which created this awe-inspiring setting.
So seize a seat (and a close-by handrail) and benefit from the beautiful coastal surroundings on this nice two-hour cruise, which features a chunk of house baking and a complimentary glass of wine, beer or tender drink.
65 Seaside Highway, 7520. For pricing and crusing occasions, see akaroadolphins.co.nz
4pm: Rise up shut and private with alpacas on a farm tour
A 20-minute drive away in Wainui, overlooking Akaroa harbour from the west, you may discover Anya and Frank Walkington’s farm – house to some 170 alpacas.
Right here you possibly can guide a guided farm tour during which you get to spend time feeding and petting these ridiculously cute creatures, whereas additionally studying about their distinctive and quirky habits.
Snap a selfie or two as you get acquainted with Rising Solar, Mikado, Ecuador and co and drink within the gorgeous surrounds. A beverage and a home-baked cookie awaits on the conclusion of the one-hour tour.
The Walkingtons breed alpacas on the farm and likewise course of their fibres for making garments, blankets and equipment. There is a well-stocked store from which you should buy some New Zealand-made knitwear as a memento.
328 Wainui Primary Rd, Wainui, 7582. Go to shamarra-alpacas.co.nz for bookings
Within the rolling hills close to the township of Akaroa is a furry wonderland of 170 pleasant alpacas – you possibly can even cuddle them.
7.30pm: Deal with your self to an unique dinner at Mandala restaurant
This cosy little restaurant on Rue Lavaud fuses Indian, Asian and Pacific delicacies – with mouthwatering outcomes.
Order some pani puri (fried puff pastry balls full of curried potato and tamarind chutney) to begin, then take your decide from the mains. After a lot deliberation, we opted for the ginger rooster and the Instagrammable grilled paneer curry, each of which had been cooked to perfection.
For those who’ve acquired room for dessert, the mango, saffron and cardamom kulfi is value forking out $16 on. An aesthetic place you may wish to revisit subsequent time you are on the town.
40F Rue Lavaud, 7520. To guide a desk, go to mandalaeats.co.nz
9am: Get breakfast on the Peninsula Normal Retailer
There’s extra to this unassuming ‘common retailer’ than meets the attention. It not solely sells a spread of natural, gluten free and connoisseur meals, but in addition doubles as a classy cafe and deli.
Are available for the espresso (some say it is one of the best on the town) and keep for a freshly made sandwich, scone or savoury muffin. The right place to kick-start your day – and replenish on speciality items.
40E Rue Lavaud, 7520. For opening occasions, go to peninsulageneralstore.co.nz
10.30am: Discover the enchanting Large’s Home
Even when artwork’s not your factor, put together to be enchanted by the Large’s Home. Tucked away on a quiet residential road, this distinctive sculpture and mosaic backyard represents the life’s work of Kiwi artist Josie Martin and is certainly one of Akaroa’s must-see points of interest.
Wander by means of the colorful, terraced gardens that encompass Martin’s two-storey villa (inbuilt 1880) and discover the extraordinary artworks on show, from a full-size grand piano to giraffes, elephants and an octopus.
It is mind-blowing to assume Martin has managed to create this fantastical world with damaged china, tile, mirror and glass as her chief supplies. Salvador Dali would’ve been impressed.
Whereas not the most affordable exercise on the town at $22.50 for adults and $10 for teenagers, you will not wish to miss out on this one-of-a-kind expertise. Plus the doorway price means Martin can preserve including to her labour of affection, which stays a piece in progress 24 years on.
70 Rue Balguerie, Akaroa 7520. For more information, go to thegiantshouse.co.nz
1.30pm: Expertise wonderful eating at Ma Maison
Now you’ve got labored up a starvation, head to Ma Maison, certainly one of Akaroa’s plushest eating places. Dinner right here is not low cost, however brunch and lunch are comparatively reasonably priced – and simply as tasty.
Deal with your self to a home beer or a glass of wine and a elaborate dish from the adventurous menu – the Za’atar rooster (spiced rooster salad with hummus and hazelnuts), seared tuna and venison burger are all extremely really useful.
If the climate permits, seize a seat within the coated exterior space for gorgeous views over the harbour. You can virtually be within the south of France.
6 Rue Balguerie, 7520. For menus and opening occasions, go to mamaison.co.nz
3pm: Stroll to the lighthouse and as much as the Britomart Memorial
For the remainder of the afternoon, have a browse within the little boutique shops that line the waterfront within the British facet of city earlier than making your approach to the Akaroa lighthouse.
It is a nice 15-minute or so stroll alongside a winding street to Akaroa’s most well-known landmark, first accomplished in 1879. It was moved from its unique web site on the Akaroa Heads in 1980 when an computerized mild rendered it out of date. On Sundays, from 11am-2pm, you possibly can pay $2.50 (50 cents for teenagers) to go inside and gaze out over the harbour.
After that temporary cease, proceed south alongside Seaside Highway and enterprise up into the picturesque hills through a strolling monitor till you attain the Britomart Monument. It is right here that the British selected to mark their newfound relationship with New Zealand having signed Te Tiriti o Waitangi with tangata whenua on August 10, 1840 – thus placing an finish to any French colonial ambitions.
Designed by Christchurch architect Samuel Farr, the stone obelisk monument on Inexperienced Level remains to be flanked by a Union Jack just like the one the French settlers would have seen after they arrived six days after the signing.
From right here, observe the steep monitor up the hill to Stanley Place and switch left on Onuku Highway, having fun with the breathtaking vistas over the harbour. Head again all the way down to the lighthouse through a bush monitor that passes by means of the Anglican Cemetery.
There are seven village walks in whole, with free maps accessible from the i-SITE on Seaside Highway must you wish to discover the world additional.
For maps and routes, see bankspeninsulawalks.co.nz/akaroa-walks
6pm: Dinner and drinks with a view at Harbar
You may have burned off loads of energy after your uphill hike, so deal with your self to one of many specialty stone-baked pizzas on the aptly named Harbar that is precariously perched over the water.
In addition to tried-and-tested combos (salami, prosciutto and ham, spinach and ricotta) the cooks supply an experimental possibility that adjustments each day. The pizzas are big, so it is smart to share – until you feel further gluttonous, in fact.
To keep away from disappointment, make a reservation as Harbar is petite and fills up shortly, owing to its beautiful meals, cocktails and even lovelier views. A good way to finish what has hopefully been a revitalising break.
83 Rue De Jolie, 7520. To guide a desk, go to harbarbeachbar
The author paid for his personal journey.