How to Visit Akaroa on a Budget
Hidden over the hills of Christchurch on a volcanic-formed peninsula, Akaroa is New Zealand’s “Frenchest” town with a tumultuous Maori, French and British history. It’s also one of the South Island’s hubs for marine wildlife, home to penguin and seal colonies, pods of Hector’s dolphins and flocks of seabirds. But what are the options for visiting Akaroa if you’re on a budget?
Akaroa is seeing less and less budget accommodation, but what remains are high-quality hostels, B&Bs and holiday parks that you’ll need to book into quickly. As for things to do, the stunning walks, affordable kayak hire and foodie experiences are all reasons to check out the town on the cheap.
Plan your affordable getaway to Akaroa and the Banks Peninsula with this travel guide to Akaroa on a budget.
Budget Tips for Akaroa
- Akaroa is a very seasonal tourist destination, with much cheaper accommodation rates in winter (May to September)
- If you’re visiting off a cruise ship, don’t purchase your activities from the cruise. They are much cheaper to book directly with the company or at the booking office once you arrive – see more tips in 10 Ways to Save Money on Your Cruise to New Zealand
- Akaroa’s budget accommodation is extremely limited so be sure to book early in the high season (October to April) to avoid disappointment and having to pay more to stay elsewhere
- Check out some of the holiday homes for cheaper accommodation in Akaroa
- Stay in self-catering accommodation to save money on food – there’s a FourSquare and a butcher/deli in town but you might want to bring supplies from Christchurch where supermarkets are cheaper
- Be choosy about which paid experiences you do with a bit of research – see the 10 Akaroa Must-Dos for ideas
- Complement your itinerary with some of the free and cheap activities in Akaroa.
For more general budget tips, check out the 11 Ways to Save Money When Backpacking in New Zealand.
Free Activities in Akaroa
Explore the sights of the French-influenced Akaroa and tackle the walking trails in the surrounding Banks Peninsula for free! One of the quick landmarks to check out is the Akaroa Lighthouse, a picturesque lighthouse moved from its original standing to, unusually, inside the Akaroa Harbour where it’s preserved for generations to come. Simply follow Beach Road in Akaroa to find the lighthouse.
For noteworthy walks, check out the Children’s Bay Walkway located on a boardwalk from the Akaroa Recreation Reserve. This one-hour return walk or three-hour circuit winds up the headland with spectacular views across the bay. Along the way, look out for surprises that you would expect to see on an African safari, rather than the coast of New Zealand!
On your way to Akaroa, stop by Barrys Bay Cheese for tastings of artisan cheese! While it might be free to taste the cheese, this can easily turn into a cheap activity once you’ve sampled some award-winning Havarti, creamy blue or aged gouda and can’t resist buying some to gorge on later.
And for a rainy day alternative, check out the Akaroa Museum. The museum set across several historical buildings tells the story of the Banks Peninsula’s Maori, French and British history through well-presented exhibitions with interesting artefacts. There are pioneering relics used to shape the land, nautical tools used by the early explorers of New Zealand, as well as more context on Akaroa’s vibrant marine wildlife.
For more free activities, check out the 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Akaroa.
Cheap Activities in Akaroa
If wildlife cruises are a bit out of your budget, there are other ways to get out on the water for a chance to see wildlife. Akaroa Adventure Centre offers affordable kayak hire at around NZ$20 for one hour or NZ$50 for half a day. Kayakers are often lucky having interactions with Hector’s dolphins.
If you prefer to stay on dry land, some of the art and cultural activities might appeal to you. The Giant’s House is a real hidden gem, a large whimsical-themed garden with all sorts of mosaic art, water features, art gallery and cafe wrapped up into one creative package. At only around NZ$20 entry, it’s affordable enough to be worth checking out.
Finally, if you’re travelling with friends or family, enjoy some affordable bonding at the local mini golf course! The Jurassic Steampunk Sculpture Park & Mini Golf offers one of the most uniquely themed mini golf courses in the country. Putt your way to victory under the watchful eye of bizarre steampunk sculptures nestled in native plantings. A game costs around NZ$15 per person.
For more affordable experiences, check out the 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Akaroa.
Cheap Eats in Akaroa
Although cooking for yourself in your self-catering accommodation is a good way to stick to your budget in Akaroa (and considering there are some decent French bakeries in town to get supplies), you still have a few options for dining out to sample the local favours.
Murphy’s On The Corner (7 Church Street) is legendary in Akaroa, serving ultra-fresh fish and chips with the fish changing daily according to the latest catch. They also serve coffee and hearty burgers. Alternatively, Akaroa Fish and Chips (59 Beach Road) is a worthy competitor. Try both and compare!
French cafes are kind of a big deal in this French-influenced town and the Sweet As Bakery (63 Rue Lavaud) is one of your most affordable options, serving fresh baguette sandwiches, croissants, eclairs, as well as kiwi favourites like savoury pies and pizzas.
Finally, head to the hole-in-the-wall The Coffee Stop (75/1 Beach Road) for your favourite drinks and service with a smile.