Plan a Family Trip to Akaroa
Over the hills from Christchurch, Akaroa and the Banks Peninsula offers a refreshing retreat. The peninsula was formed by volcanic activity some eight to 11 million years ago. Since then, it’s had a fascinating history of Maori settlers and even French settlers where both cultures’ influence can be seen and experienced across the bays. What families tend to love the most about the peninsula, however, is the abundance of wildlife seen in the vibrant blue waters. Seeing the world’s smallest dolphins and smallest penguins is a highlight of nature cruises and on-land wildlife safaris. As for the rest of your time in Akaroa, see what you and the tribe could be getting up to in this travel guide to Akaroa for families.
Things to Do in Akaroa with Kids
- See dolphins, penguins, seals and more on a wildlife cruise
- Find rhinos and other surprises on the Children’s Bay Walkway
- Check out the Akaroa Museum…
- … Or the Okain’s Bay Museum
- Have a beach day
- Enjoy a penguin safari with Pohatu Penguins
- Stroke a fluffy alpaca at Shamarra Alpacas
- Explore the Garden of Tane
- Experience a world of whimsy at The Giant’s House
- Blast around the Akaroa Harbour by jet boat.
For more details on each experience, including their locations, check out the 10 Things to Do in Akaroa with Kids.
Family Adventure Activities
Akaroa is not only a holiday hub for locals but it’s a nature hub for all sorts of marine life. With that in mind, some of the best family adventures in Akaroa encompass wildlife. For instance, jump aboard one of the wildlife cruises or sailing trips and just see for yourself the array of Hector’s dolphins, little blue penguins, seals, seabirds and more that can be found on the vibrant blue waters of the Akaroa Harbour.
An accessible option for families is a nature cruise with Black Cat Cruises (check them out of Viator and Tripadvisor). Ride their large catamaran which is stroller-accessible so even the youngest members of the family can enjoy watching dolphins leaping beside the boat. You’ll also get to see the harbour’s sea caves and cliffs formed by volcanic activity while learning all about their history through commentary from your skipper. Akaroa Dolphins (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor) has a similar offering on a smaller catamaran tour, which includes refreshments. Should you want to combine your wildlife cruise with pretending you’re a pirate on a sailing ship, join Fox 2 Sailing Adventures (see more info on Viator and Tripadvisor) for their wildlife cruise in a vintage sailboat.
If you prefer to keep your wildlife experience on dry land, how about meeting little blue penguins at New Zealand’s largest blue penguin colony? Join Pohatu Penguins for their family-friendly penguin safari, taking you to a private conservation area in a picturesque and remote bay to learn about protecting New Zealand’s birds, as well as see penguin chicks. On their evening tours, you’ll arrive at the conservationists’ homestead to meet and feed the enthusiastic sheep before being given camouflage clothing. Next, you may get to see a penguin chick feeding before heading out to various hides overlooking nesting sites to see the little blue penguins waddling in from a hard day’s fishing. Try to time your visit with September and Mid-February for the best penguin viewings.
For something a little different, check out the weird and wonderful whimsical world of The Giant’s House! Kids love exploring this exuberant garden of mosaic sculptures, water fountains, walkways and more. You can easily spend a couple of hours discovering its secrets and relaxing at the on-site cafe with alfresco dining under the shade of the trees.
For more family adventures, check out the 10 Things to Do in Akaroa with Kids.
All-weather Family Activities
If the weather isn’t playing ball, then make sure the family is still entertained with these rainy day alternatives.
A good rainy day go-to is the Akaroa Museum. Set across the historic Langlois-Eteveneaux cottage, Akaroa Court House and the Custom House, the museum features well-presented exhibitions about the Maori early settlers, the transformation of the natural environment made by the early Polynesian and European settlers, learn about why the town is a “French” town and much more. The museum is free to visit.
And if the Akaroa Museum wasn’t enough, there’s also another option in Okain’s Bay just a short and scenic drive from Akaroa. Okain’s Bay Museum houses historically significant Maori and early European artefacts. See waka (canoes) in the waka shed, meander from the blacksmiths to the gun room, and learn about the Banks Peninsula’s wildlife of the past and present.
For more inspiration for a wet-weather day, see the 10 Things to Do in Akaroa on a Rainy Day.
Free Family Activities
Stick to your travel budget with ease by enjoying some of the free things to do in Akaroa.
A must-do for families is the Children’s Bay Walkway, not because of its obvious name, but because of the more surprising “wildlife” you’ll meet along the way. Locally known as the “Rhino Walk”, you’ll see why as you steadily climb up a headland on this one-hour return walk or three-hour circuit. Enjoy beautiful vistas of the Akaroa Harbour and various bays and lookout for metal sculptures in the long grass.
On a hot summer’s day, you might want to get off the beaten track and explore the Banks Peninsula’s beautiful beaches. Le Bons Bay and Okain’s Bay have stunning sandy beaches and areas for children to swim while the drives there offer breathtaking vistas of the surrounding bays and rolling farmland.