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Located on the eastern coast of New Zealand’s spectacular and wilderness-saturated South Island, Akaroa is a charming town less than 50 miles from the South Island’s largest city of Christchurch. An Akaroa cruise port of call puts you right into the midst of all the adventures you can have on the South Island, whether you choose to spend your day in Christchurch or head out into nature.
When you disembark from one of our cruises in Akaroa, be sure to wait out on your balcony or a ship deck to watch as you pull into or away from the port as it’s picture perfect for sailing. The town’s homes and buildings dot steep hillsides accented with green forests curving around a peaceful, picturesque harbor that’s an ancient volcanic crater. It’s just one of the many beautiful ports you’ll experience on a New Zealand cruise.
This unique destination is a historic house, sculpture garden, and gallery all rolled into one intriguing Akaroa cruise attraction. It's name reportedly came from a child looking up at the house and being so astounded by its size assuming that a giant must live there. However, it's most certainly the ceramic sculptures in the garden that will astound you with their whimsical charms, lovingly applied by the artist Josie Martin, who did most of the pieces on display.
This popular railway route will take you through some of the most incredible scenery of the South Island and its Southern Alps. You'll be whisked accross rolling plains and along mountain valleys, over rivers on soaring viaducts, up the sides of mountains, though a mountain pass and back down through rainforests to the Tasman Sea. The views are magnificent in every direction.
The harborside promenade of Akaroa is a lovely place to walk around and soak in the views of the area. The lively atmosphere is made even more picturesque thanks to its historic, colonial architecture. In addition, you’ll find a variety of cafes, restaurants, and shops to while away a relaxing afternoon in the Akaroa cruise port.
The little Akaroa Museum offers displays and exhibits about the history of Akaroa. Another big draw of the museum is its on-site heritage buildings. These buildings consist of the Langlois-Eteveneaux House, the only surviving building in Akaroa built by the original French colonists; the Akaroa Customs House, built in 1858 and historically used as a customs office and survey office; and the Akaroa Court House, which served as the seat of justice in Akaroa from 1880 to 1979.
There are multiple types of kayak excursions you can take part in during cruises to Akaroa. Take a sea kayaking safari along the outer coast of Pohatu Marine Reserve. While you paddle through the reserve, you’ll be gazing at high sea cliffs and mysterious-looking sea caves. You might also see penguins, tiny Hector’s dolphins, NZ fur seals and a variety of seabirds. Or, for another memorable experience during an Akaroa cruise go kayaking through the harbor which is an extinct volcanic crater and a marine mammal sanctuary.
Swimming with dolphins is the quintessential Akaroa cruise excursion. Hector’s dolphins frequent Akaroa Harbour, and it’s the only place where you can actually swim with them. You’ll leave on a vessel and then enter the water with a wetsuit and snorkel to come face to face with these friendly creatures. Part of the proceeds from this experience will be reinvested in education and research into this endangered species.
Leave the town center behind and get out into the countryside of Akaroa to visit a working farm. Learn about farming techniques in New Zealand and see the buildings that make up the farm as well as the equipment used. In addition, you’ll get to see adorable New Zealand sheep, working dogs, and other farm animals.
New Zealand is known for its excellent seafood, lamb and beef, and Akaroa is no exception. For fresh, local seafood with an upscale vibe, visit The Wharf in Akaroa. The Bach is a great place for a laidback bite to eat with burgers, pizzas, sandwiches, and cakes. For a drink, you can’t go wrong with a pint of locally brewed beer or a glass of wine from the nearby Marlborough wine region.
Akaroa means “long harbor” in the Maori language, and indigenous Maori culture is still prevalent in the area. The town of Akaroa has a rich history which goes back to early arrivals of French and British colonists who founded the town on the edge of Banks Peninsula (named for the botanist Joseph Banks who sailed with the explorer Captain Cook). You can still see remnants of this heritage when you cruise to Akaroa in the early colonial architecture, museums and galleries that highlight the past. The culture in Akaroa is heavily focused on outdoor activity as it’s both a productive farming area and a popular holiday and leisure destination.
The port of Akaroa is small, so cruise ships will anchor off shore and Akaroa cruise passengers will be tendered to shore on smaller boats. You will land conveniently close to the center of town, just a few minutes walk to and from your tender boat drop-off point.
Downtown Akaroa is easy to walk around, and you can explore most of the downtown streets within an hour or two. There isn’t much in terms of local public transportation just around Akaroa, but you will find bus and ferry stops to transport you to nearby cities and regions in New Zealand.
The Akaroa Harbour promenade is a good place to do some shopping. It’s home to arts and crafts boutiques, jewelry stores, clothing stores, and souvenir shops housed in colonial buildings along quaint lanes. In addition, as you walk around shopping, you’ll have great views of the water and a choice of eateries and bars.
You won’t typically find service charges added to your restaurant or bar bill in New Zealand, and while tipping isn’t obligatory in New Zealand, it is appreciated. Most people leave a tip for good service, which might be less than you’re used to leaving. Typically, a tip amounting to 10% of the total bill is left for good service.
Most businesses accept credit cards in New Zealand, with Visa and Mastercard the most widely accepted. If you need cash, you’ll be able to find an ATM in Akaroa at the local bank. New Zealand’s currency is the New Zealand Dollar (NZD).