We call it our Akaroa Tour. It’s more like a Banks Peninsula Tour that just happens to stop in Akaroa for lunch. Beware though; the road we take is less travelled and has more twists and turns than a pretzel, but with views to die for!
Working our way South-East out of Christchurch via SH 76 and SH 74, we pass through the Lyttelton Road tunnel into the harbour town of Lyttelton where we make two quick stops at the lookout just east of the town, and at the restored Time-ball tower to admire the outlook over the harbour.
From there we circumnavigate the harbour as far as Diamond Harbour and Purau Bay where we make further stops to admire Lyttelton harbour “from the other side” before we cut round the side of Mt Evans to Port Levy and then over Wild Cattle Hill to Pigeon Bay for more amazing views. Make sure you take lots of photos, and enjoy a packed morning tea at Pigeon Bay. More stops along the way!
From Pigeon Bay we travel up to and along the Summit Rd for a few kilometres before dropping down into ever picturesque Okains Bay to admire further views and explore the bay and its history. If time permits and they’re open, we may pop into the Okains Bay museum to look at the history of the area before climbing back up the hill and descending on Akaroa for lunch.
New Zealand’s only French colony, Akaroa boasts a stunning harbour setting surrounded by volcanic remnant peaks. A photographers’ and nature lovers’ paradise, that needs exploring so after lunch that’s exactly what we do, including the views from the (now automated) lighthouse at the Akaroa Heads. For those that don’t want to travel out to the heads by road, there may be the option of a harbour nature cruise. (Note this is an optional extra that must be purchased separately).
Post lighthouse (or harbour cruise visit) visit we slowly make our around the Akaroa Harbour admiring the views before stopping, if time permits, at the famous Barry’s Bay cheese factory where there may be the opportunity to sample or purchase various cheeses, salami, and even wine. Yum!
Making our way over the Akaroa Hill and dropping down through Little River is another highlight of the trip before making two final stops; one at Birdlings Flat, and further on a nice wee spot overlooking Lake Ellesmere (Te Waihora), before we wrap up our day and return to Christchurch.
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