About Akaroa

Akaroa, meaning "long harbour" in Maori, certainly lives up to its name. Set on a beautiful, sheltered harbour, Akaroa is now a popular resort.


Seek out the best spots for dolphin watching with tours from the harbour or relax on land at one of the welcoming bars or restaurants. Alternatively take a tour to Christchurch.




Shore excursions in Akaroa

Please note: The shore excursions listed are typical for this port. The full programme of shore excursions available for your cruise will be displayed on Cruise Personaliser at least 12 weeks prior to departure.

Akaroa by Double Decker Bus

Activity low

Duration: 2 hours

Soak up the picture-perfect views of Akaroa, while on board a beautifully restored 1960's London Routemaster double-decker bus.

Akaroa, just over 46 miles from Christchurch is an idyllic town on the Banks Peninsular with an abundance of natural splendour. It is situated within a harbour of the same name, which in Maori aptly translates to “long harbour”. This long harbour is sheltered and nestled by towering ancient volcanoes.

While enjoying your tour aboard the charming 1960s London Routemaster double-decker bus, your guide will describe the fascinating geology as well as the Maori, French and British history of the area. You’ll take in historic sights, colonial architecture, and astounding natural beauty whilst travelling through Akaroa, the bays, and onto The Hilltop Tavern. The Hilltop Tavern offers breathtaking views looking back to the serene Akaroa Harbour; so it’s the perfect place for a photo stop, and you’ve also the opportunity to purchase refreshments here.

This tour is a charming way to experience this truly beautiful and fascinating area, while still allowing you plenty of free time to enjoy Akaroa at your leisure.

Essential information

This Excursion operates by double decker bus. Places on this tour are limited so early booking is advised. This tour has limited walking, however guests will need to negotiate steps onto and off the bus and up to the top deck. Please remember local currency for purchases.

Akaroa by Double Decker Bus

Akaroa Harbour Swim with Dolphins

Activity mediumRefreshments includedFamily

Duration: 3 hours

Enjoy an incredible encounter swimming with the world’s smallest and rarest dolphins in their natural environment.

Akaroa is the only place in the world where you can swim with the world's smallest and rarest dolphins - the Hector's Dolphin. These dolphins are protected by a marine mammal sanctuary and this cruise will provide the opportunity to see these beautiful creatures close up in their own environment.

At the start of the cruise, you’ll be given safety instructions, a briefing on how to interact with the dolphins and what to expect during your journey. You’ll be accompanied by a dedicated dolphin guide who is trained to maximise your dolphin swimming experience.

Absorb the beautiful scenery as your small catamaran cruises out to where the dolphins are usually found. Once the dolphins are located, you’ll have around 45 minutes in the water with them. The amazing thing about swimming with dolphins in their natural habitat is that you are doing it completely on their terms. Whilst the inquisitive dolphins happily swim around you, the crew will be on hand to capture the memorable encounter on camera (available to purchase at the end of the cruise).

After your fantastic dolphin experience, you’ll be able to sit and relax with a hot drink.

For every booking a donation will be made to the ongoing research and education on Hector’s Dolphins.

Essential information

This excursion will operate by jet powered boat. To ensure the dolphins are not put under any unnecessary stress, it is essential that the guide’s instructions are adhered to. Sometimes dolphins may have calves with them, are mating or just resting - it’s therefore important not to interact with dolphins if they don’t want to. Participants must be good swimmers. Passengers under the influence of drugs or alcohol and children under 8 years old are unable to participate. Wetsuits, masks, snorkels and showers are provided. Please remember to bring your swimwear, a towel and local currency (NZD) for any additional purchases. As with any wildlife in their natural habitat we cannot guarantee that the dolphins will swim with you however the chances are very high. Pre-existing medical conditions must be declared. Places are restricted to limit crowding of the dolphins so early pre-booking is essential to secure your booking.

Akaroa Nature Cruise

Activity lowFamily

Duration: 2 hours

Experience majestic scenery, natural wonders and diverse wildlife on this memorable nature cruise.

Board your modern and luxurious 60 foot catamaran for a fascinating cruise around Akaroa’s vast harbour. Your Captain will share his extensive knowledge of the local nature, wildlife and history of the area whilst you sail past the beautiful and dramatic landscape including an extinct volcanic crater, giant volcanic sea cliffs and the ancient lava flows at Cathedral Cave.

The harbour is famous for the world's smallest and rarest dolphins, the Hector's Dolphin, so the opportunity of seeing these friendly and inquisitive mammals is very good.

Before returning to land, your Captain will take you to the best places to catch a glimpse of the White Flippered Blue Penguin, the smallest penguin in the world and the New Zealand Fur Seals sunning themselves on the rocks. There are also many different bird species to spot, including 5 different cormorant species and the endangered yellow-eyed penguin.

Essential information

This excursion will operate by catamaran. The catamaran has 2 decks with both shaded and uncovered areas. Whilst wildlife sightings cannot be guaranteed the chances are high. Places are limited so early pre-booking is highly recommended.

Akaroa, Peninsula and the Giants House

Activity medium

Duration: 4 hours

See Akaroa and the surrounding peninsula, sample local cheese, absorb the Maori history and explore the ‘Giants House’.

Take in the breathtaking scenery of this fascinating volcanic area as you drive through Duvauchelles Bay and onto Barry’s Bay, a local cheese producer. Here, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy a short audio-visual presentation on the cheesemaking process and sample a selection of delicious local cheeses.

Afterwards, travel up to the Summit Road for some fabulous views, before dropping down into Okains Bay. This area is home to the Okains Bay Maori and Colonial Museum with exhibits that include a working Blacksmith’s shop, a print shop, a saddlery, the restored school, Maori meeting house, colonial hall and the former Akaroa grandstand.

Back in Akaroa, you’ll visit the wonderful Giants House, a flamboyant and whimsical mosaic and sculpture garden created by artist Josie Martin. Josie’s fabulous eccentricity shines through each and every sculpture piece in the garden and the quaint and charming house, built in 1881, is a delight to explore.

Essential information

This excursion will operate by coach and on foot. This tour involves walking over varying terrain including gravel and grass. At The Giants House, there is an incline from the coach drop off point and 10 steps at the entrance. Flat, comfortable shoes are recommended.

Antarctic Centre and Free Time in Christchurch

Activity mediumFamily

Duration: 6½ hours

Discover Christchurch’s International Antarctic Centre and explore the impressive Botanical Gardens.

Setting off from Akaroa, sit back and relax as you take a drive to the city of Christchurch. Upon arrival, you’ll visit The International Antarctic Centre; one of the city’s main highlights that showcase’s life in the South Pole. The centre is located in a unique working Antarctic campus, home to the New Zealand, United States and Italian Antarctic programmes.

Visitors can enjoy hands on exhibits, video presentations, laser holograms and observe life in a penguin rookery. You’ll also be able to experience the temperatures of a real snow cave and take a ride on the Hägglund, a tracked amphibious vehicle used in Antarctica. The 4D Extreme Theatre will take you on a cruise to Antarctica, which is an exciting interactive experience from your movie seat. During your visit, allow some time to purchase a snack or refreshment at the café and to browse for souvenirs at the Antarctic shop.

Leaving the Antarctic Centre, you’ll drive towards the city, passing Hagley Park, the Avon River, the Bridge of Remembrance and onto the Christchurch Botanic Gardens. From here, you can enjoy some free time to explore independently.

Departing from Christchurch, you’ll take the return drive to Akaroa.

Essential information

This excursion will operate by coach and on foot. Approximately 2 hours is spent at the Antarctic Centre. Warm jackets and over-shoes are provided for the Snow Cave. The journey to Christchurch takes 90 minutes. The itinerary order may operate in reverse. The visits to the Antarctic Centre and the Botanical Gardens are self-guided. To allow maximum flexibility, lunch or refreshments are not included but can be purchased at the Antarctic Centre, please remember local currency (NZD). The Hägglund rider is not suitable for those with injuries or conditions, which may be affected by the bumpy ride.

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