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Weekend Trip From Christchurch to Akaroa – New Zealand

Title text overlay image of a man overlooking Port Hills in Christchurch New Zealand

The beautiful district of Canterbury is crammed full of stunning places to visit. Just a short drive from the city of Christchurch is a whole host of short walks, viewpoints, and peaceful views across the coast and landscape. Here we go from Christchurch to Akaroa on the Banks Peninsula to soak up that Kiwi countryside over a weekend break!

Christchurch

A short drive from the central city of Christchurch takes you around the Port Hills, overlooking the many bays around the coastline. There are plenty of amazing views and scenic lookouts around the hills, and it’s a popular spot for a walk around the tracks. You can choose your walk depending on your fitness and time restrictions for a shorter or longer amble, we opted for the short walk to see as much as we could in the day. For the keen cyclists, it’s also a chance to really test your ability to tackle a steep incline!

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Overlooking Governors Bay from Port Hills

Another amazing spot that can be found following a short drive from the city is Godley Head. With stunning views of the blue ocean and rolling coastline hills, here you find another chance to take a walk and enjoy the never-ending scenery NZ has to offer. This site is a former WWII coastal defence battery, and the quiet remains of the disused buildings certainly add a sense of mystery to the otherwise idyllic views. With very few people around during the late afternoon (even on a Saturday!) we had the place pretty much to ourselves. Perfect for a sunny afternoon stroll. It’s safe to say the surrounding areas of the city along the coastline are really quite wonderful.

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View of Sumner from Godley Head

Views across the Pacific from inside a coastal defence structure

Inside the coastal defence

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Views over the Pacific Ocean

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Godley Head

A sheep looks at the camera in a field overlooking the ocean

Friendly locals

 


 

Banks Peninsula

The rest of the weekend was spent enjoying all that Banks Peninsula has to offer. Driving south from Christchurch and after a brief stop to see the sights of Birdlings Flat, we drove on through the steep, winding roads and rolling hills. The route makes for a pretty intense drive, but once you’re there the views you’re greeted with are totally worth it.

We stayed at a beautiful home in French Farm, the bay on the opposite side of the harbour to Akaroa. Being a little further away from the busier tourist town across the harbour, it’s the perfect place to completely relax (and in my case, recover from jet lag). Our main activities included taking a swim in the freezing but picturesque ocean at Wainui, taking walks and drives and enjoying the time to just follow where the road takes you. French Farm itself is right by Barry’s Bay which has a small cheese factory, where we stocked up for a lazy night in. It’s well worth a visit for any fellow cheese lovers, you’ve Gouda go!

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Wainui Beach

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View over French Farm

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Banks Peninsula

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Birdlings Flat

Akaroa

To further explore Banks Peninsula, we headed to Akaroa and enjoyed a couple of days feeling a little more touristy. In addition to generally feeling lazy and chilled as we wandered the waterfront, we spent an afternoon learning more about the harbour’s history at Akaroa Museum, and appreciating the artworks of local artists at the tiny gallery. Of course, no trip to Akaroa is complete without sampling the famous fish and chips, and we eagerly satisfied our hunger after being such busy tourists while watching the world go by.

One particularly unusual attraction of Akaroa is situated just a short walk away from the waterfront. The Giant’s House was historically the bank managers house, later becoming home to artist Josie Martin, who created the lavish garden and eccentric artworks that the now-hotel is famed for. The whole grounds are surreal and a visual overload of patterns and colours. The Wonderland-esque atmosphere makes it feel like a grown-up’s playground, and we sure had fun exploring! Getting a glimpse of the rooms inside the hotel make me sure that it would be one night’s sleep you wouldn’t forget in a hurry either. Although a pretty steep price for entry into the gardens alone, it’s well worth a visit if you enjoy unusual arty spaces, and it’s certainly a different kind of tourist attraction!

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The Giants House & Garden

Other Akaroa activities include a small cinema, a variety of shops and cafes, kayaking, boat trips, dolphin watching, and dolphin swimming. While we didn’t take part in these on this visits, you can see what happened on my boat trip on my last visit to Akaroa here.

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Akaroa Harbour

All around Banks Peninsula there are walking tracks to keep keen outdoor-types busy. While we didn’t explore any especially difficult walks, and having a car made things much easier and quicker to see as many views as possible, we did take a morning to enjoy a walk along Onawe Peninsula, a sacred Maori site right at the heart of the harbour. A gentle incline, and 360° views stretching from our home in French Farm, all the way over to Akaroa and beyond into the Pacific Ocean. Once at the top, you feel quite literally on top of the world, with stunning views, peaceful calm waters, and not another person in sight. As the entire peninsula is an extinct volcano, you get so much more of a sense of the jagged coastline and rolling hills from this view, and knowing the historical value of the site makes it a worthwhile visit.

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Onawe Peninsula & Views of Akaroa Harbour

All in all, there are plenty of great locations to visit around Christchurch and beyond to enjoy the beautiful landscape. Banks Peninsula is the perfect spot for enjoy the diverse scenery that NZ has to offer, and while there’s a whole range of activities to keep you busy there’s also plenty of opportunity to simply kick back, relax, and enjoy the views.

Have you visited Akaroa? What were your favourite things to do? Let me know!

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23 Comments

  • Reply
    Deirdre
    10/25/2017 at 1:22 pm

    This is a stunning place! I would love to visit and loved this post. The photos especially 🙂

    • Reply
      suzystories
      10/25/2017 at 10:06 pm

      Thank you so much! Hope you get to visit some time soon 🙂

  • Reply
    Momma To Go
    10/25/2017 at 2:29 pm

    These pics are so beautiful! I love cheese so I’m in for that! I especially love the pic of the sheep, exactly what I think NZ would be like!

    • Reply
      suzystories
      10/25/2017 at 10:07 pm

      Thank you! Yes me too, those fluffy sheep just fit the stereotype so well!

  • Reply
    travellinn
    10/25/2017 at 4:35 pm

    I have not yet been to New Zealand, but it is absolutely on my list. I was actually talking about it with a friend the other day, so who knows when we will get on a flight and explore ourself! 🙂 Love the photos of the beautiful nature!

    • Reply
      suzystories
      10/25/2017 at 10:08 pm

      Oh wonderful! I hope you get to visit soon, it’s so worth exploring in detail, there’s so much to see! Enjoy your travels 🙂

  • Reply
    melissa
    10/25/2017 at 5:06 pm

    Beautiful! I’m dying to go there but it seems soooooo far away from my house! Do you have a favorite town?

    • Reply
      suzystories
      10/25/2017 at 10:09 pm

      It really is very far! But well worth the journey in my opinion 🙂 I really love Christchurch for its unique character, a more typical favourite choice would be Queenstown though for the incredible mountains! Hope you get to visit soon!

  • Reply
    Linda de Beer
    10/25/2017 at 6:57 pm

    New Zealand scenery is captivating and the Bank Peninsula looks like it lives up to expectations. I would love to spend a few days at Akaroa with its waterfront, art and fish and chips!

    • Reply
      suzystories
      10/25/2017 at 10:09 pm

      It sure does! I’d definitely recommend it, it’s such a peaceful and relaxing place. Hope you get to visit sometime soon!

  • Reply
    Toni
    10/26/2017 at 6:04 am

    Wow that Giants House looks awesome. Definitely a unique attraction. I’ll have to add all this to my list. I’m due to return to NZ since I’m back in Oz. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Reply
      suzystories
      10/26/2017 at 10:33 pm

      Oooh wonderful! Whereabouts in Australia? I’m heading there next month! Hope you get a chance to visit soon 🙂

  • Reply
    Amrita Sen
    10/26/2017 at 6:32 am

    Such a beautiful place! I wish I could visit New Zealand soon.

    • Reply
      suzystories
      10/26/2017 at 10:33 pm

      It really is! I hope you get to go sometime soon too 🙂

  • Reply
    Flying Fluskey
    10/26/2017 at 9:12 am

    Bank’s PEninsular sounds like a very gorgeous place and very relaxing (apart from freezing swim, that just sounds horrendous lol)
    The Giant’s House really sounds like my favourite kind of sight. Random and interesting art work.

    • Reply
      suzystories
      10/26/2017 at 10:34 pm

      Haha, yep it definitely took me by surprise. Me too! It was so much fun to explore somewhere a bit weird and wacky!

  • Reply
    Holly @ Southern Roots Blog
    10/26/2017 at 10:14 pm

    Wasn’t expecting the pics of the Giant’s House. It look so whimsical, like a garden out of Alice in Wonderland or something. All the landscape pics are beautiful!

    • Reply
      suzystories
      10/26/2017 at 10:35 pm

      It really does! It’s such a hidden treasure in a landscape focussed place, was certainly good fun! Thank you!

  • Reply
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