Things to Do in Akaroa for Couples
A charming French-influenced town nestled between turquoise waters, lush pastures and bush-clad hills, Akaroa certainly sets the stage for romance. All you need are the tours, activities and experiences to match! Couples can be treated to an array of experiences between connecting the nature on wildlife cruises to sipping local wines amongst the vines. Inspire your next romantic getaway with this list of the most romantic activities in Akaroa!
1. Swim with the World’s Smallest Species of Dolphin
Connect with nature and each other on a dolphin-swimming cruise in Akaroa! This gives you and your loved one the opportunity to swim with the world’s smallest species of dolphin, Hector’s dolphins. These curious little guys can’t help but make your heart melt as they dance around you in the vibrant blue waters of the Akaroa Harbour. You have several options for swimming with dolphins in Akaroa, including Black Cat Cruises (check them out of Viator and Tripadvisor), EcoSEAker and Onuku Farm Hostel. All of which have the wetsuits and snorkel gear, as well as instruction on how to interact with the dolphins in a safe and ethical way.
Location: Black Cat Cruises – Departs from the Main Wharf, Beach Road. EcoSEAker – Departs from Daly’s Wharf, end of Rue Balguerie. Onuku Farm Hostel – 89 Hamiltons Road, Onuku, approximately 6km (4 miles) from Akaroa town centre.
2. Paddle Together on a Sunrise Kayak Tour
Another romantic way to get on the water to explore the bays and, fingers crossed, encounter some wildlife, is to team up in a kayak and paddle together on a kayaking tour. Join Akaroa Guided Kayaks (see Viator and Tripadvisor for more info) for their “Sunrise Safari” for, not only seeing the volcanic cliffs and blue waters at the most stunning time of the day but also to enjoy kayaking when the water is calmer. The three-hour tour has you paddling through a marine reserve, giving you a good chance of encountering wildlife in between your guide showing you cool volcanic features and teaching you more about the creatures found in the Banks Peninsula. Pohatu Penguins also offers sea-kayaking tours in their penguin marine reserve, while the Akaroa Adventure Centre offers freedom kayak hire to explore the Akaroa Harbour.
Location: Akaroa Guided Tours – 40F Rue Lavaud. Pohatu Penguins – Wildside Booking Office, 2/8 Rue Balguerie. Akaroa Adventure Centre – 61 Beach Road.
3. Set Sail on the Akaroa Harbour
Just try to resist having a Jack and Rose moment on the bow of the ship as you sail across the sheltered waters of the Akaroa Harbour. Set sail on the Fox II (see more info on Viator and Tripadvisor) in the crater of an ancient volcano (yes, that’s the Akaroa Harbour) harnessing the power of the wind for a gentle and blissfully quiet cruise. Seeing Hector’s dolphins riding the pressure waves produced by the yacht is an almost guaranteed experience, while spotting little blue penguins, seals and more are not uncommon. Enjoy the charm of this vintage sailboat with a complimentary tea or coffee on hand or a glass of wine or beer from the bar. Note that sailing trips are only available from late December to March.
Location: Departs from Daly’s Wharf, end of Rue Balguerie.
4. Hike the Hills, Bush and Beaches of the Hinewai Reserve
We also recommend spending some time off the water to explore the beautiful Banks Peninsula. One way to do that independently, just the two of you, is on the many walking and hiking trails of the area. A good go-to for walks, the Hinewai Reserve is a 1,250ha (3,090-acre) piece of land behind Akaroa that is part of an ecological restoration project and, as a result, makes for an endearing place for a hike. There’s a huge network of walking trails to tackle, taking you from native bush full of birdsong to open hilltops with outstanding views of the surrounding bays. Find hidden waterfalls, tracks to beaches and small lakes. Pack a picnic and spend the day out there! You’ll find information on the tracks at the Visitor Centre near the main entrance. See more activities like this in the 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Akaroa.
Location: 632 Long Bay Road, approximately 9km (6 miles) from Akaroa town centre.
5. See Adorable Penguins on the Pohatu Penguins Tour
Impossibly cute, the little blue penguins waddling into shore is a must-see in New Zealand. Pohatu Penguins is a family-run conservation project and tour operator allowing you to enjoy penguin viewings at New Zealand’s largest mainland blue penguin colony in an ethical manner. Join them for one of their evening tours, best done between September and mid-February, to see chicks being fed as part of rehabilitation programs and watch penguins coming in from shore from bird hides with binoculars and camouflage gear to enhance the viewing experience.
Location: Wildside Booking Office, 2/8 Rue Balguerie.
6. Enjoy a Romantic Stroll on the Beach
As cliche as it might sound, simply walking hand-in-hand at a stunning sandy beach is another romantic way to enjoy your time together in Akaroa and the Banks Peninsula. You’ll need your own transport, as admiring the scenery on the way to these beaches is all part of the experience. Some of the best beaches in the area include Okains Bay, Little Akaloa Bay and Le Bons Bay.
Location: Okains Bay – Okains Bay Road, approximately 22km (14 miles) from Akaroa town centre. Little Akaloa Bay – Little Akaloa Bay Road, approximately 28km (17 miles) from Akaroa town centre. Le Bons Bay – Le Bons Bay Road, approximately 22km (14 miles) from Akaroa town centre.
7. Do Tastings at the Boutique Wineries
In the true French spirit of Akaroa, the surrounding area is home to several boutique wineries, including Meniscus Wines, The Akaroa Winery at Takamatua Valley Organic Vineyards and French Peak Wines. Additionally, some accommodations like Beaufort House have their own vineyard in their back garden! Either visit the wineries independently (cellar doors typically open between Labour Day and April) or let someone else worry about being the designated driver on a guided wine tour with The Bonjour Wine Tour.
Location: Meniscus Wines – 43 Lighthouse Road. The Akaroa Winery – 59 Long Bay Road, approximately 4km (2 miles) from Akaroa town centre. French Peak Wines – 79 French Farm Valley Road, French Farm, approximately 16km (10 miles) from Akaroa town centre.
8. Discover the Impressive Gardens of The Giant’s House
Enter the wonderfully whimsical world of The Giant’s House, an artistic and beautiful garden ideal for couples looking for romantic places to visit in Akaroa. Explore the exuberant grounds of mosaic sculptures, water fountains and a cafe. Check out the art gallery and enjoy a coffee and a treat under the shade of the trees.
Location: 70 Rue Balguerie, Akaroa town.
9. Discover All the Picturesque Churches
If you find yourself in Akaroa on a rainy day, it could be a good opportunity for a road trip around the Banks Peninsula to see all the picturesque churches. Start with St Patrick’s Catholic Church with the backdrop of bush-clad hills and the historical St Peter’s Anglican Church, both in Akaroa town. Then hit the road to Little Akaloa to admire the Maori carvings imprinted into the stone walls of St Luke’s Anglican Church. Plus, don’t miss the wooden Maori carvings and the cutest church with a sea view at the Onuku Church.
Location: St Patrick’s Catholic Church – 29 Rue Lavaud. St Peter’s Anglican Church – 10 Rue Balguerie. St Luke’s Anglican Church – 8 Lukes Road, Little Akaloa, approximately 25km (16 miles) from Akaroa town centre. Onuku Church – Onuku Road, approximately 4km (2 miles) from Akaroa town centre.
10. Dine at Akaroa’s French and Seafood Restaurants
With French bistros and world-class seafood, just about anywhere in Akaroa makes for a romantic evening out. Bully Hayes Restaurant & Bar offers charming alfresco dining among lush gardens with sea views. Couples have an array of sharing platters and tapas plates to choose from, such as their bread board for lunch or seafood platter for dinner. For breakfast or coffee, check out the quirky coffee shop of the Peninsula General Store amidst an interesting grocery store. Alternatively, pick up a fresh baguette or croissant from the Sweet As Bakery to take back to your romantic Akaroa accommodation. Finally, it’s also worth a trip to the French Farm Winery Bistro, open from Friday to Sunday depending on the season. Pair their in-house wines with a seasonal a la carte menu. For more restaurant recommendations, head to The Foodie Guide to Akaroa.
Location: Bully Hayes Restaurant & Bar – 57 Beach Road. Peninsula General Store – 40E Rue Lavaud. Sweet As Bakery – 63 Rue Lavaud. French Farm Winery Bistro – 12 Winery Road, French Farm, approximately 16km (10 miles) from Akaroa town centre.