Akaroa Harbour Tours

282 reviews
Although it is located in a former British colony, Akaroa Harbour is decidedly French—down to the baguettes and street names—as this Christchurch enclave was originally founded by pioneering French settlers. Located on the rugged Banks Peninsula, 90 minutes by car from Christchurch, Akaroa drifts along at a pace that's more rural, laid-back—and French—than New Zealand’s third-largest city.

The Basics
Aside from the welcoming, francophone atmosphere and scenic views, Akaroa is an especially popular spot to observe wild dolphins. The harbour is located inside the caldera of a sunken volcano, making it ideal habitat for marine mammals and birdlife. A harbor cruise is a must-do activity, and usually includes commentary about landmarks such as Akaroa Lighthouse, Cathedral Cave, and Scenery Nook. Some wildlife-viewing operations even let you swim alongside Hector’s dolphins—the rarest and smallest in the world—if you keep a respectable distance. 

Things to Know Before You Go
  • Akaroa Harbour is a marine mammal sanctuary where encounters with wildlife are regulated. 
  • No touching or harassment of wildlife is allowed, and in events such as mother animals seen swimming with babies, or dolphins appearing to be feeding, guests can view the wildlife from the boat as opposed to getting in the water.
  • Boat crews brief passengers on how to safely observe the world’s smallest and rarest (and endangered) dolphins. 
  • If getting on—or in—the water isn’t your preference, it’s easy to meander around the charming village, browsing shops, bistros, bakeries, and cafés.

How to Get There
Akaroa is located 46 miles (75 kilometers) southeast of Christchurch, from which shuttles run daily. If driving from the city, allow roughly 1.5 hours and follow a scenic route along Highway 75 around the Banks Peninsula to Akaroa. Alternatively, full-day tours are run from Christchurch, and shore excursions are available for cruise ship passengers at Akaroa Harbour. 

When to Get There
Summer sun and generally higher temperatures around December–February make the hidden coves and beaches of Akaroa more pleasant. However, the cooler temps of winter keep the crowds away and off-season prices lower. Wildlife cruises operate year-round. 

Wildlife Viewing Abounds in Akaroa
For some added adventure in the area, tour the scenic coastline by kayak and scour the waters for wildlife. In addition to pods of Hector's dolphins, you may see little blue penguins as well as colonies of New Zealand fur seals and diving cormorants (aka shags) that frequent the rocks around Akaroa Harbour.
Location
Address: Main Wharf, Akaroa 7520, New Zealand
ticket-star
Admission: Free
Read More

3 Tours & Activities to Experience

times
icon-filterFilter
Clear all
Select Dates
Sort by:Default

Akaroa Shore Excursion: Banks Peninsula and Christchurch City Sights

Travel from Akaroa Harbour on a 6.5-hour shore excursion through the Banks Peninsula to Christchurch, whose city center was devastated by the 2011 earthquake. Drive past city landmarks in the old CBD and stroll the Christchurch Botanic Gardens with a knowledgeable guide. En route, you’ll take in the scenic splendor of the Southern Alps and the Canterbury Region, including Little River, Lake Forsyth and Lake Ellesmere.
  • Duration: 6 hours 30 minutes
From
USD59.11
See Details
  • Duration: 6 hours 30 minutes
From
USD59.11

Akaroa Swim with Dolphins Tour from Christchurch

Enjoy a unique opportunity to swim with dolphins in the wild during an Akaroa Harbour cruise. Strap on your provided wetsuit, flippers and snorkel gear, then slip into the water to swim alongside inquisitive Hector’s dolphins. This full-day trip from Christchurch includes a drive through the South Island countryside to Akaroa. You’ll admire breathtaking points of interest such as Governor’s Bay and Lake Ellesmere en route, enjoy free time to explore Akaroa, then visit a cheese factory for a tasting session in Barry's Bay.
  • Duration: 9 hours
From
USD205.13
See Details
  • Duration: 9 hours
From
USD205.13

Akaroa Harbour and Banks Peninsula Eco Marine Harbour Cruise Small Group Tour

Wander the charming village of Akaroa, and opt for either a harbor cruise or dolphin swim on this small-group tour from Christchurch. Start with a scenic drive through the magnificent Banks Peninsula where you’re treated to summit views of Akaroa Harbour, the Canterbury Plains and the distant Southern Alps. Sample locally made cheeses at a cheese factory, explore Akoroa and enjoy a cafe lunch before a nature cruise or dolphin swim alongside Hector's dolphins. Numbers are limited to eight people for a personalized experience.
  • Duration: 9 hours
From
USD267.72
See Details
  • Duration: 9 hours
From
USD267.72


mobile_o
Having trouble booking online?
(888) 651-9785
Call (888) 651-9785