Everyone has a favorite spot in the world. Some are big cities, some are homes to good memories, some are hidden gems. I like to think that Akaroa is the latter of the 3. It’s a small town a little more then an hour outside of Christchurch on the Banks Pennisula. The drive out, when sunny, is stunningly beautiful. You crest over the hill, stopping at the Hilltop Cafe for a snack, drink and picture taking of the view surrounded by classic New Zealand sheep before driving into the harbor.
The town has French roots, displayed on every street and sign. Hostels and hotels have names like Rue de la Blah but that is as far as the French goes in the town today. Everyone speaks English with New Zealand accents and no one speaks a lick of French. Very strange. But every town in New Zealand needs a gimick to get tourists and if being “French” is it, power to them. The harbour is georgous. Green and blue intermixing, dots on the water and on the hills, there is just no way to describe it until you see it for yourself.
There are various festivals during the year but I came over Easter weekend, 2008 to go swimming with the Hector’s Dolphins, who are endangered and the smallest dolphins in the world. They suit you up in a wet suit since it’s so cold and off we go for a trip around the harbour out to the ocean. I went out on the early morning tour and even though we saw plenty of dolphins and actually jumped in the water once, even though they were far away, the company gave us a partial refund, which I thought was very generous and since I had such a good time on the tour anyway and felt like I got my money’s worth, I then donated my refund back to “adopt” a Hector’s dolphin for one year. I got the cutest little stuffed dolphin!
I hung around town for lunch and ate at this little cafe that had excellent coffee at the corner of Beach Road and Rue Jolie which I can’t find any info on about online. I hope it’s still there! A lot of the places to eat in town are kind of expensive and this was one of the cheaper places.
When I was booking my return trip to New Zealand later that year, I knew I had to return to Akaroa for a few days. I had read good things about the Onuku Farm Hostel and as soon as I could, booked a bed in the girls room. I really enjoyed the simplicity of this place and if I had to return, I would reccomend one of the stargazer tents in the summer as they seem really fun, but I didn’t have a sleeping bag. Next time! I didn’t really do much in town for the 2 days I was there, I just wondered and enjoyed the beauty of the pennisula.
I drove out of Le Bons Bay and Okains Bay which are located on the other side of the pennisula and both were so peaceful and quiet, even more so then the “busy” town of Akaroa. The whole pennisula is just so fantastic, I can’t even write how much I love it all.
Moral: When I am board or sad at work, I look at houses in the area. It would so be a dream of mine to own a bach there, but living in LA, how often would and could I even get there? There isn’t much to do, but it’s just so beautiful. And while Christchurch isn’t one of my favorite towns, I would leave immediatly and head here. This place is always on my list of places to return too. My favorite town in New Zealand.