Bay view with a mountain backdrop and cloudy skies at Akaroa, New Zealand

Akaroa is just an hour and a half south of Christchurch, and yet a world away. The journey there offers the exquisite scenery that makes New Zealand famous. Its destination, however, is no ordinary Kiwi hamlet. Indeed, this small village will charm you with its distinct French flavour. Yes, Akaroa is the perfect place to experience French Heritage in New Zealand. Perched on the Banks Peninsula, Akaroa is Canterbury’s oldest town. It dates back to 1840 when French settlers first called it home. Unfortunately for the French, the Queen of England had already signed the Treaty of Waitangi. If not, the outcome for New Zealand could have been very different. Nevertheless, you can still see the Tricolore waving from the windows of the little town of Akaroa. As you explore the streets bearing distinct French names such as Rue de Melmanche, Rue Balguerie and Fleur Lane, you just might forget that you are, in fact, still in New Zealand.

Fall in love with the French charm of Akaroa

Love and romance are synonymous with the French psychology that Akaroa inherited. With its French flair and quaint village atmosphere nestled in a setting of folded green volcanic hills, Akaroa is the perfect location to set the scene for love. The first-class accommodations, traditional French bakeries, excellent quality restaurants and vineyards make this the ideal romantic getaway. In fact, Akaroa offers just the romantic escape to rekindle the spark that first drew a couple together. There is enough, however, to enchant and delight any visitor.

Lighthouse overlook water and mountains
Bay with wharf against a green mountain background

Explore the Attractions of Akaroa Harbour

The name Akaroa is Kai Tahu Maori for “Long Harbour”, and indeed the harbour is one of the main attractions. There is one main street running along the splendid Akaroa Harbour with its charming buildings, boutique shop fronts and restaurants on one side and bobbing small boats in the waters on the other. These same waters are also home to the rare and endangered Hector’s dolphin. To be sure, the Hector’s dolphin is a real charmer and the smallest dolphin of all, so be sure to make a point of meeting a few of these beauties.

Architecture, arts and crafts in the quaint French heritage village

In addition to the atmosphere, you will also be charmed by the well-preserved and pleasing architecture in the village. Discover boutique shops selling beautifully handcrafted and colourful clothing made and designed locally in New Zealand. Also, discover the quality wool products New Zealand is famous for as you browse the streets. Exclusive homewares, artwork, quirky Kiwiana, rocks, gems and crystals and high-quality NZ souvenirs will afford unique mementos of your time in this idyllic French styled hamlet. 

Knitted wool bag with button
Bread, cheese, snacks and wine on a table

Wining and dining around Akaroa

In and around Akaroa, you can find an abundance of good food and wine to suit any palate. Whether you are enjoying the traditional fish and chips on the wharf, tasting wine at a vineyard or hiding away in a secret garden café as you sip your coffee, this village is a feast for the senses. The French character shines through many of the local eateries, from boulangeries to bistros. Accordingly, Akaroa merits a visit for the sophisticated gastronome and casual foodie alike. 

Tramway in Christchurch New Zealand

Get away to Akaroa: Experience French Heritage in New Zealand

Escape for an adventurous day away with our Akaroa and Banks Peninsula Wild Penguins Eco-Tour departing from Christchurch

Alternatively, select your ideal combination of unforgettable South Island attractions to design your unique, custom tour and enjoy genuine Kiwi hospitality from our expert tour guides.