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Akaroa and Banks Peninsula

New Zealand's Only French Settlement



According to Maori tradition the first settlers of Banks Peninsula, were the Waitaha people led by their ancestor, Rakaihautu, with Banks Peninsula being named Te Pataka o Rakaihautu (The storehouse of Rakaihautu). This was in honour of his feats and for the mahinga kai (variety of food) in the area. Later Maori arrivals included the Kati Mamoe and Ngai Tahu peoples from around 1730.

Europeans discovered Banks Peninsula in 1770 with the voyages of Captain James Cook in his ship, Endeavour. At the time, it was thought that the peninsula was an island, and named after Capt. Cook’s botanist, Joseph Banks. Akaroa itself was first settled by the French around 1840 although by then the British had claimed sovereignty to the whole of Banks Peninsula. Today, Akaroa is a haven for holiday makers, but retains its original French flavour and is recognised as the oldest town in Canterbury and a New Zealand historic place


Akaroa Sunset

Akaroa Harbour is one of two eroded volcanic caldera remnants from the extinct Banks Peninsula volcano, now open to the sea, with the name Akaroa meaning Long-Harbour in Maori, with Akaroa itself a modification of the word Whakaroa from the Kai Tahu (Ngai Tahu) Maori dialect.

Around 84km by road from Christchurch, Akaroa is home to approximately 800 people year round although this number swells in summer with visitors making up the numbers. Some of the activities in the area include nature cruises where wildlife are a feature, as well as marveling at the massive sea-cliffs that line the entrance to the harbour, or just relaxing on the waterfront, with the kids paddling in the tide

Our Tours

In honour of its popularity with local and visitor alike, we offer two special tours into the Akaroa and Banks Peninsula area; with a full day and two day options.

Each tour departs from and returns to Christchurch city, and provides all the necessities and goodies to make your tour a success.

Oh-La-La. Welcome to New Zealand's French Colony

Akaroa Day Tour

We call it our Full Day Akaroa Tour, but the reality is that its more like a Full Day Banks Peninsula Tour that just happens to stop in Akaroa for lunch. Travelling across some of the more twisted roads in the area we visit a few other beaches and bays on our way to Akaroa. Once there we have a couple of options including a nature cruise!

Explore Banks Peninsula in Depth

Akaroa Plus

Exploring Banks Peninsula with this scenic tour is a marvel. Yes, we call it Akaroa Harbour Plus, but like our Akaroa Day Tour, its not just about Akaroa. It really is a full tour of Banks Peninsula including bays like Port Levy before arriving in Akaroa where there’s the chance of a Nature Cruise on the Harbour. Next Day on our way back to Christchurch, we explore the Southern side of Banks Peninsula. Oh-la-la!