Plan a Romantic Getaway, Anniversary or Honeymoon to Akaroa
Once you make your way down the winding road, over the hills from Christchurch, and get that first glimpse of vibrant colours between the blue-water bays and lush green hills, you know you’re somewhere special… Drive a little further and you’ve entered the town of Akaroa; a town unlike anywhere else in New Zealand. French-style bistros, bakeries and delis line streets with French names, reminiscent of what many consider the most romantic country in the world. And its got the wineries, cuisine and endearing boutique lodges and B&Bs to match! But, this is New Zealand, after all, so nature is easy to find when seeing dolphins, penguins, seals, seabirds and more are the real highlights of Akaroa and the Banks Peninsula.
With all that in mind, we’ll show you the most romantic things to do and places to stay and eat in this honeymoon guide to Akaroa.
Honeymoon Experiences in Akaroa
- Swim with the world’s smallest species of dolphins
- Paddle together in a sunrise kayak tour
- Set sail on the Akaroa Harbour
- Hike the hills, bush and beaches of the Hinewai Reserve
- See adorable penguins on the Pohatu Penguins tour
- Enjoy a romantic stroll on the beach
- Do tastings at the boutique wineries
- Discover the impressive gardens of The Giant’s House
- Inspire yourselves at the Orion Powerhouse Gallery
- Dine at Akaroa’s French and seafood restaurants.
For more details on each experience, take a look a the 10 Romantic Activities in Akaroa for Couples.
Romantic Adventure Activities
If the French flair of Akaroa town wasn’t romantic enough, just wait until you get on the water. One way to do that is with a dolphin-swimming cruise, giving you the opportunity to swim with the world’s smallest species of dolphins. The curious little Hector’s dolphins 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 have the wetsuits and snorkel gear, as well as instruction on how to interact with the dolphins in a safe and ethical way.
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. For instance, 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 romantic time of the day but also for 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. 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.
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 is the Hinewai Reserve, 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 bays. Find hidden waterfalls, tracks to beaches and small lakes too. Get information on the tracks from the Visitor Centre near the main entrance at 632 Long Bay Road.
For more things to do in the great outdoors, check out the 10 Romantic Activities in Akaroa for Couples.
Romantic All-weather Activities
Don’t let the rain put a damper on your honeymoon. There are still plenty of romantic sights to see and experiences to be had, including a wine tour of the Banks Peninsula. That’s right, in the true French spirit of Akaroa, the surrounding area is home to several boutique wineries, including Meniscus Wines, Akaroa Winery at Takamatua Valley Organic Vineyard and French Peak Wines. Some accommodations, like Beaufort House, even have their own vineyard in the back garden! Either visit them 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.
Another rainy day alternative could be a road trip around the Banks Peninsula seeing 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 in New Zealand, the Onuku Church.
Need more rainy day inspiration, such as museums and art galleries? Check out the 10 Things to Do in Akaroa on a Rainy Day.
Romantic Restaurants in Akaroa
With French bistros and world-class seafood, just about anywhere in Akaroa makes for a romantic evening out. While The Little Bistro, Ma Maison and Mandala make worthy date night options, as listed in The Luxury Guide to Akaroa, some of the other endearing eateries include…
Bully Hayes Restaurant & Bar (57 Beach Road) 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 (40E Rue Lavaud) amidst an interesting grocery store stocking local artisan goods.
It’s also worth a trip to French Farm to discover the cuisine of the French Farm Winery Bistro (12 Winery Road, French Farm), open from Friday to Sunday depending on the season. Pair their in-house wines with gourmet meals from a seasonal a la carte menu.
For more restaurant recommendations, head to The Foodie Guide to Akaroa.