About Akaroa

Akaroa, meaning "long harbour" in Maori, certainly lives up to its name. Set on a beautiful, sheltered harbour, Akaroa is now a popular resort.


Seek out the best spots for dolphin watching with tours from the harbour or relax on land at one of the welcoming bars or restaurants. Alternatively take a tour to Christchurch.




Shore excursions in Akaroa

Please note: The shore excursions listed are typical for this port. The full programme of shore excursions available for your cruise will be displayed on Cruise Personaliser at least 12 weeks prior to departure.

Akaroa Harbour Swim with Dolphins

Activity mediumRefreshments includedFamily

Duration: 3 hours

Enjoy an incredible encounter swimming with the world’s smallest and rarest dolphins in their natural environment.

Akaroa is the only place in the world where you can swim with the world's smallest and rarest dolphins - the Hector's Dolphin. These dolphins are protected by a marine mammal sanctuary and this cruise will provide the opportunity to see these beautiful creatures close up in their own environment.

At the start of the cruise, you’ll be given safety instructions, a briefing on how to interact with the dolphins and what to expect during your journey. You’ll be accompanied by a dedicated dolphin guide who is trained to maximise your dolphin swimming experience.

Absorb the beautiful scenery as your small catamaran cruises out to where the dolphins are usually found. Once the dolphins are located, you’ll have around 45 minutes in the water with them. The amazing thing about swimming with dolphins in their natural habitat is that you are doing it completely on their terms. Whilst the inquisitive dolphins happily swim around you, the crew will be on hand to capture the memorable encounter on camera (available to purchase at the end of the cruise).

After your fantastic dolphin experience, you’ll be able to sit and relax with a hot drink.

For every booking a donation will be made to the ongoing research and education on Hector’s Dolphins.

Essential information

This excursion will operate by jet powered boat. To ensure the dolphins are not put under any unnecessary stress, it is essential that the guide’s instructions are adhered to. Sometimes dolphins may have calves with them, are mating or just resting - it’s therefore important not to interact with dolphins if they don’t want to. Participants must be good swimmers. Passengers under the influence of drugs or alcohol and children under 8 years old are unable to participate. Wetsuits, masks, snorkels and showers are provided. Please remember to bring your swimwear, a towel and local currency (NZD) for any additional purchases. As with any wildlife in their natural habitat we cannot guarantee that the dolphins will swim with you however the chances are very high. Pre-existing medical conditions must be declared. Places are restricted to limit crowding of the dolphins so early pre-booking is essential to secure your booking.

Akaroa Nature Cruise

Activity lowFamily

Duration: 2 hours

Experience majestic scenery, natural wonders and diverse wildlife on this memorable nature cruise.

Board your modern and luxurious 60 foot catamaran for a fascinating cruise around Akaroa’s vast harbour. Your Captain will share his extensive knowledge of the local nature, wildlife and history of the area whilst you sail past the beautiful and dramatic landscape including an extinct volcanic crater, giant volcanic sea cliffs and the ancient lava flows at Cathedral Cave.

The harbour is famous for the world's smallest and rarest dolphins, the Hector's Dolphin, so the opportunity of seeing these friendly and inquisitive mammals is very good.

Before returning to land, your Captain will take you to the best places to catch a glimpse of the White Flippered Blue Penguin, the smallest penguin in the world and the New Zealand Fur Seals sunning themselves on the rocks. There are also many different bird species to spot, including 5 different cormorant species and the endangered yellow-eyed penguin.

Essential information

This excursion will operate by catamaran. The catamaran has 2 decks with both shaded and uncovered areas. Whilst wildlife sightings cannot be guaranteed the chances are high. Places are limited so early pre-booking is highly recommended.

Akaroa, Peninsula and the Giants House

Activity medium

Duration: 4 hours

See Akaroa and the surrounding peninsula, sample local cheese, absorb the Maori history and explore the ‘Giants House’.

Take in the breathtaking scenery of this fascinating volcanic area as you drive through Duvauchelles Bay and onto Barry’s Bay, a local cheese producer. Here, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy a short audio-visual presentation on the cheesemaking process and sample a selection of delicious local cheeses.

Afterwards, travel up to the Summit Road for some fabulous views, before dropping down into Okains Bay. This area is home to the Okains Bay Maori and Colonial Museum with exhibits that include a working Blacksmith’s shop, a print shop, a saddlery, the restored school, Maori meeting house, colonial hall and the former Akaroa grandstand.

Back in Akaroa, you’ll visit the Giants House, a mosaic and sculpture garden created around the home of the first Bank Manager in Akaroa. It was built in 1880 of native totara and kauri timbers. Enjoy a wealth of unique garden artworks including mosaic steps, an extraordinary sculptural wall mosaic and welded steel sculptures, amongst other creations.

Essential information

This excursion will operate by coach and on foot. This tour involves walking over varying terrain including gravel and grass. There are 10 steps to negotiate at the Giants House. Flat, comfortable shoes are recommended.

Christchurch Antarctic Centre and Botanical Garden

Activity mediumFamily

Duration: 6½ hours

Discover Christchurch’s International Antarctic Centre and explore the impressive Botanical Gardens.

Setting off from Akaroa, sit back and relax as you take a drive to the city of Christchurch. Upon arrival, you’ll visit The International Antarctic Centre; one of the city’s main highlights that showcase’s life in the South Pole. The centre is located in a unique working Antarctic campus, home to the New Zealand, United States and Italian Antarctic programmes.

Visitors can enjoy hands on exhibits, video presentations, laser holograms and observe life in a penguin rookery. You’ll also be able to experience the temperatures of a real snow cave and take a ride on the Hägglund, a tracked amphibious vehicle used in Antarctica. The 4D Extreme Theatre will take you on a cruise to Antarctica, which is an exciting interactive experience from your movie seat. During your visit, allow some time to purchase a snack or refreshment at the café and to browse for souvenirs at the Antarctic shop.

Leaving the Antarctic Centre, you’ll drive towards the city, passing Hagley Park, the Avon River, the Bridge of Remembrance and onto the Christchurch Botanic Gardens. Nestled in a bend of the Avon River, the Botanical Gardens were established in 1863 and are an oasis of conifers and maples and seasonal flower displays.

Departing from Christchurch, you’ll take the return drive to Akaroa.

Essential information

This excursion will operate by coach and on foot. Approximately 2 hours is spent at the Antarctic Centre. Warm jackets and over-shoes are provided for the Snow Cave. The journey to Christchurch takes 90 minutes. The itinerary order may operate in reverse. The visits to the Antarctic Centre and the Botanical Gardens are self-guided. To allow maximum flexibility, lunch or refreshments are not included but can be purchased at the Antarctic Centre, please remember local currency (NZD). The Hägglund rider is not suitable for those with injuries or conditions, which may be affected by the bumpy ride.

Christchurch Discovery

Activity highMeal included

Duration: 7 hours

Sample delicate wines, relax on a punt along the Avon River and explore the Botanical Gardens by trolley bus.

Take a drive from Akaroa, enjoying the beautiful scenery of the Banks Peninsula en route to the Melton Estate Winery. The boutique winery is set in lovely surroundings and is the perfect place to sample a selection of award-winning wines. You’ll also be served a light chef’s platter of local condiments.

Afterwards, your drive will continue into Christchurch city, where you’ll board a punt, a flat bottomed boat, and enjoy a leisurely ride along the Avon River. Sit back and relax as your Edwardian punter gently glides you down the river.

To round off your tour, you’ll join the ‘Caterpillar’, an electric open-sided trolley bus that will take you on a guided tour through the Christchurch Botanical Gardens. Admire these wonderfully impressive gardens with its mixture of seasonal colours and array of plant life.

Essential information

This excursion will operate by coach, punt, trolley bus and on foot. Order of itinerary may vary. The wine tasting is offered only to those over 18 years of age. A degree of agility is required to board the punt boat. There is a slightly inclined boardwalk at the punt embarkation area. Flat, comfortable non-slip shoes are recommended.

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