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Akaroa Cruises Port Guide

Located on New Zealand’s lush and wilderness-saturated South Island, Akaroa is a charming town located 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 to 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 a gorgeous one to sail by. The town’s homes and buildings dot the green hillside accented with pine trees that curve around a peaceful, picturesque harbor. It’s just one of the many beautiful ports you’ll experience on a New Zealand cruise.

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Top Sights & Attractions for Cruises to Akaroa

The Giant’s House

This unique house is a historic house, sculpture garden, and gallery all rolled into one interesting Akaroa cruise attraction. It reportedly got its name from a child looking up at the house and being so astounded by its size that the child assumed a giant must live there. It’s the arts that will likely astound you while there, thanks to a whimsical charm applied to them by the artist Josie Martin, who did most of the pieces on display. 

TranzAlpine Railway

This popular railway route will take you to some of the most incredible scenery of the South Island and its Southern Alps. You’ll be whisked up the side of a mountain, providing you with sky-high views of jagged mountains, rolling plains, deep gorges, and even rainforests.

Harbour Promenade

The 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.

Akaroa Museum and Heritage Buildings

The 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 Langlois-Eteveneaux House, the only surviving building in Akaroa that was made by the 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.

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Top Things to Do in Akaroa

Kayaking Adventures

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 tall sea cliffs and past mysterious-looking sea caves. You might also see penguins, the local Hector’s dolphins, and a variety of seabirds. Another memorable experience to enjoy during an Akaroa cruise is to go kayaking through an extinct volcano crater located not far from the city. 

Swim with Hector’s Dolphins

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. 

Working Farm

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.

Top Food and Drink Spots Near the Akaroa Cruise Port

New Zealand is known for its excellent seafood 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.

Culture & History of the Akaroa Cruise Port

Akaroa has a rich history that largely consists of French and British colonialism from when the town was originally settled. You can still see remnants of this time when you cruise to Akaroa thanks to its colonial architecture and museums and galleries that highlight that era in time. The culture in Akaroa is heavily focused on the outdoors. Maori culture is also prevalent in Akaroa. The Maori are an indigenous people of New Zealand, and their ancestors are still heavily involved in keeping Maori culture and traditions alive. In fact, the word Akaroa actually means “long harbor” in the Maori language. 

Akaroa Port Facilities & Location

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. Once you are on land, you’ll be conveniently situated right near the center of town, which only takes a couple of minutes to walk to from where your tender boat drops you off.

Transportation in Akaroa

Downtown Akaroa is easy to walk around, and you can explore most of the downtown area’s 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.

Shopping Near the Akaroa Cruise Port

The Akaroa Harbour promenade is a great 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.

Local Currency & Tipping Customs

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. 

 

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Visit the historic French-British settlement of Akaroa, 1.5 hours south of Christchurch, and explore the mountainous Banks Peninsula on which the town sits.

The Akaroa Marine Reserve, at the mouth of Akaroa Harbor (once an active volcano) was created in 2013, and many species of its fauna and flora are still undescribed. During an Akaroa cruise, enjoy a boat ride around this harbor, stopping to take in the natural beauty and snap picturesque photos.

This area is visited by Hector’s dolphins, endemic to New Zealand and the smallest species, just 4–5 feet long and 90–130 pounds in weight. Unlike the more common bottlenose dolphin, the Hector’s dolphin has a short beak, a rounded black dorsal fin, and elegant color variations from creamy white belly to dark gray extremities. Smaller species of whales also visit the reserve.

Fur seals and white-flippered penguins hang out along the rocky platforms edging the harbor, where albatrosses, petrels, and other seabirds visit. Do some excellent bird watching with your binoculars on a cliff-side stroll—but remember to watch your step.
Visit the historic French-British settlement of Akaroa, 1.5 hours south of Christchurch, and explore the mountainous Banks Peninsula on which the town sits.

The Akaroa Marine Reserve, at the mouth of Akaroa Harbor (once an active volcano) was created in 2013, and many species of its fauna and flora are still undescribed. During an Akaroa cruise, enjoy a boat ride around this harbor, stopping to take in the natural beauty and snap picturesque photos.

This area is visited by Hector’s dolphins, endemic to New Zealand and the smallest species, just 4–5 feet long and 90–130 pounds in weight. Unlike the more common bottlenose dolphin, the Hector’s dolphin has a short beak, a rounded black dorsal fin, and elegant color variations from creamy white belly to dark gray extremities. Smaller species of whales also visit the reserve.

Fur seals and white-flippered penguins hang out along the rocky platforms edging the harbor, where albatrosses, petrels, and other seabirds visit. Do some excellent bird watching with your binoculars on a cliff-side stroll—but remember to watch your step.