3 days in Akaroa means you have just enough time to explore the best of Akaroa. Here are our top six must-dos for unforgettable family friendly fun.
What better way to get up close and personal with the largest Australasian Little Penguin colony in New Zealand, than with Pohatu Penguins. Join this wonderful opportunity to gain insight into the life of the penguins and conservation efforts. Take a walk around the colony to monitor nesting sites, watch the penguins socialise on shore and in the water, and then make their way back to their nests.
There’s nothing like your first alpaca encounter and what better place to experience these incredibly cute creatures than the stunning Banks Peninsula? Roam the hills and take in all that stunning scenery while you soak up as much alpaca love you can capture on camera. That cuddly soft fleece, big button eyes, and that mischievous smile – come and enjoy some real time with Fantasia, Aramis, Nutella, Eureka – alpaca superstars of New Zealand on a 1-hour Alpaca Farm Tour at Shamarra Alpacas with hosts Anya and Frank.
3. Akaroa Harbour Cruises & Swimming with Dolphins
Akaroa is the only place in the world where you can swim with New Zealand’s native Hector Dolphins – the world’s rarest and smallest oceanic dolphins. This once in a lifetime experience should not be missed and is open to confident swimmers with the minimum age being 8 years old. For those who prefer to stay on the boat, you have the option to enjoy a scenic 2-hour harbour cruise around an extinct volcanic crater on an incredible marine wildlife discovery tour.
Located opposite side of i- SITE Visitor Information Centre in Akaroa, this wee hidden gem holds the hearts of many who visit. Akaroa Museum Te Whare Taonga offers free admission which is always a bonus for families with children. Open daily, you can learn about the social and cultural history of the Banks Peninsula with collections that range from archaeology to art and zoology. There’s also a stunning old courthouse and cottage to view, a 20 minute historical video to watch about the area, a children’s park, gift shop and café. It’s also a great indoor activity for wet weather woes.
5. Ōnawe Peninsula Walk
This stunning yet easy walk is perfect for a family outing to take in the panoramic views of Akaroa Harbour. This 1-hour loop track offers a beautiful bush walk for all ages with views that will entice plenty of oohs and aaahs along the way. Begin from the sweeping shoreline at Onawe Flat Road- just make sure to go at low tide so you don’t get wet. You’ll spot striking rock and geological formations along the peninsula which is also a sacred Māori site so please be respectful and do not eat on site or during this walk. It’s best to give the kids a snack to energise before starting on the track and a visit to the restroom since there are no toilet facilities on this track.
6. The Giants House
For a whimsical day with a touch of magic, take the kids to the iconic Giant’s House in central Akaroa. Everything you’ve heard about this renowned attraction is even better in real life with its flourishing, magnificent garden and one-of-a-kind sculptures. Recognised as a Garden of International Significance since 2018, a visit to The Giant’s House is like stepping into another world where anything is possible. Historic, unique, and a creative feast for the senses – these inspiring gardens are filled with mesmerising mosaic, artwork and sculptures that will wow everyone in the family - an absolute Akaroa must-do.
7. Visit the Akaroa Farmers Market
From October through to April (New Zealand’s spring to summer season), visitors are in for a treat at the Akaroa Farmers Market. Held every Saturday from 9.30am to 1pm at the Madeira Hotel car park, and just a few minutes’ walk from the Akaroa i-SITE Visitor Information Centre, this is a fantastic way to enjoy a Saturday morning feasting on fresh local produce including locally grown fruit, veggies, herbs, honey, olive oil, olives, nut, flowers, preserves, jams, breads, pastries and so much more.