The historic South Island town of Akaroa.

The historic South Island town of Akaroa.

Christchurch is the biggest town in New Zealand’s South Island and while this city offers many points of interest, we wanted to explore a bit further and do a short trip to the surrounding areas. This time we did not do any sophisticated research on the destination, but simply pointed to an area on the map that looks like a horseshoe peeking out to the Pacific Ocean.

The destination was revealed to be a village called Akaroa, perfect for a weekend getaway or day trip, easily accessible from Christchurch with a shuttle bus or two hour drive. Originally we chose Akaroa based on its convenient location near Christchurch and interesting geography. But after some quick research, the area turned out to offer so much more than a short seaside trip.

The South Island town of Akaroa.

Akaroa has so many picturesque settings.

Once a volcano, today a hiking track

Akaroa is located on an old volcano, whose ancient walls still embrace the village. The way from Christchurch to the harbour village is a scenic ride that winds first up to the summit and then runs down towards the crater rim. We didn’t need to settle for admiring the views through the windows of the bus, since our driver pulled over at the summit and we could see the magnificent hills pairing with shimmering coves.

The once rocky walls of the volcano have been smoothed down to grassy rolling hills over time. We immediately saw them as a scenic location for day walks, tramping and biking. Several walking routes of different lengths and levels are accessible straight from the Akaroa village.

We took the Curry track, which goes first through thick forest, then along a freshly running creek towards the saddle of the crater to admire views of the entire area and 360 degree views of the stunning landscape. In spite of being formed by an old crater, Akaroa has a connection to the open sea, making it good location also for water sports and encountering marine wildlife, although it is recommended to invest time researching to make sure you go with one of the reputable businesses in the region.

Wildlife is abundant  in the South Island town of Akaroa.

Wildlife is abundant in Akaroa.

Traces of the French explorers

The town of Akaroa was originally founded by French explorers, whose mark has clearly been left if signs and local businesses are anything to go by. Whether it is French influence or not, Akaroa still treats tourists with plenty of local delicacies, including products from Akaroa Cheese Shop, a fish smokery and a local butcher.

Akaroa was bathed in bright spring sunshine, when we visited there in early October. The main tourist season in the village takes place in summer months, when visitors from near and far visit Akaroa to soak up its unique personality. However, the stunning nature and local accommodation services are open for visitors year round, so there’s no excuse to not head to this stunning region of of the South Island.

Authors: Johanna Malinen and Ciarán Tragheim, a travel duo originally from forestry Finland and buzzing London. They decided to see how life is on the other side of the world, moving work and home to Wellington. During the weekends and holidays, they travelled throughout New Zealand, entirely by bus or other public transport.