Sheep graze almost to the water's edge in the many small bays indenting the coastline of Banks Peninsula, the nub that juts into the Pacific east of Christchurch. On the southern side of the peninsula, in a harbor created when th e crater wall of an extinct volcano collapsed into the sea, nestles the fishing village of Akaroa (Māori for "long harbor"). The port is a favorite day trip for Christchurch residents on Sunday drive, and on weekends.
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Indulge your senses with the splendid coastal beauty of New Zealand during this exclusive and intimate Akaroa harbour and nature cruise via catamaran.
Depart the pier aboard your comfortable catamaran, Into the Blue, and commence your approximately two-hour nature cruise around Akaroa Harbour. This harbour is host to amazing bird-life and sea mammals, including the Hector's dolphin, the smallest and rarest dolphin in the world. The area is also home to New Zealand fur seals, blue penguins, fascinating seabirds, salmon, and paua farms.
As you glide along Akaroa Harbour aboard your fast, stable and manoeuvrable catamaran, explore the sea caves, high cliffs and volcanic rock formations of this spectacular seascape. During this memorable cruise experience, relax with a refreshing beverage and home-made baked goods as your guide recounts the region's history, geology, ecology, and Maori heritage and traditions.
Your cruise concludes back at the pier.
Please note: This tour requires a minimal amount of walking, with a few steps to negotiate to embark and disembark the catamaran. It is suitable for guests with limited mobility and those who utilise a wheelchair; guest must be able to manoeuvre on and off the boat. Wear lightweight, comfortable clothing, flat, non-slip walking shoes and sun protection, do not forget to bring a light jacket. Wildlife sightings are not guaranteed. Space on this tour is very limited; we suggest you book in advance to avoid disappointment.
Take this opportunity of witnessing the rebuild of Christchurch after its disastrous earthquakes of 2011. Until recently, the centre of Christchurch was red-zoned, but in recent months the area has been re-opened and it is now possible to see many of the physical changes.
Departing Akaroa, the coach makes its way across Banks Peninsula over Gebbies Pass, and continues on to the Port Hills. A short stop at the Sign of the Takahe offers breath-taking views over Christchurch, the Canterbury Plains, and through to the Southern Alps.
Journey down to the city centre where you transfer to a Double Decker Open bus (weather permitting) for a fun and informative tour. Discover first hand why Christchurch is known as 'The Garden City' and is considered one of the most English-styled cities outside England. Learn about Christchurch's fascinating history from the pioneering days through to modern times.
On tour, view some of the areas affected by the earthquakes and learn how Christchurch is preserving some of its iconic heritage buildings. Your driver will share aspects of the exciting vision and plans to rebuild and restore the inner city. The local guide offers full running commentary, interwoven with stories and information as you circuit the city and the expanse of Hagley Park.
Afterwards, spend some free time to explore at your leisure, shop, or sample some local fare from one of many restaurants and cafés (at guest's own expense). Time will also be available to browse the many boutique shops in the Restart Mall and surrounding streets before re-joining your coach and returning to your ship in Akaroa.
Your tour concludes with a transfer back to the pier in Akaroa.
Please note: This tour requires a moderate amount of walking, the majority of which is at each guest's discretion. There are stairs to climb to reach the open deck of the double decker bus, if desired. This tour is not suitable for guests with limited mobility or those who utilise a wheelchair. Comfortable walking shoes and a lightweight jacket are recommended. Bring local currency and/or credit card for any meal or souvenir purchases. Lunch is not included.
Spend a half-day discovering the secrets of preparing Akaroan cuisine during this fun-filled and informative cooking class at the Akaroa Cooking School.
Depart the pier for the short walk to the Akaroa Cooking School. Upon arrival, meet Lou or Ant Bentley, your instructor for the day. The class showcases a number of outstanding dishes using only locally-caught fish and shellfish purchased from a local fisherman at the end of the wharf; just seconds from the cooking school. The dishes are complemented with a bounty of fantastic local produce available on Banks Peninsula, including the country's best olive oils, local honey, nuts, and fresh organic fruits and vegetables.
After a snack of tea or coffee served with freshly-baked pastries, your class begins with a lesson on how to source great fresh seafood, what to look out for when buying fish, diverse cooking techniques, cooking shellfish, and how to store your fish after purchasing or catching it. Next, you will witness the preparation of the seafood dishes, which are served for lunch following the class. Each dish is matched with award-winning local wines that are also available for purchase.
At the conclusion of your cooking class, time is made available for shopping in scenic Akaroa before commencing the short walk back to the pier.
Please note: This tour requires a minimal amount of walking for approximately 10 yards (9 metres) between the cooking school and the pier. It is suitable for guests with limited mobility who are able to stand for periods at a time. Flat, closed-toe walking shoes are recommended. Guests must be 21 years of age to participate. This tour involves a cooking demonstration rather than a hands-on experience; some dishes may have been partially prepared in advance. Space on this tour is extremely limited; we suggest you book well in advance to avoid disappointment. Bring local currency for any cooking product purchases.
Embrace your spirit of adventure on this exhilarating journey into the high country of the Southern Alps, which you'll experience via three different modes of transport custom built 4x4 touring vehicle, jet boat and coach. Experience an in-depth look at the rugged Canterbury High country at the base of the majestic Southern Alps, into areas that even New Zealanders seldom see. Journey by coach from Akaroa and watch the landscape change as you travel across the Canterbury Plains, the Waimakariri River, to enter the foothills of the majestic Southern Alps and Rubicon Station.
Rubicon Station, 4X4 Ride & Lunch
Find yourself at Rubicon Station on the banks of the spectacular Waimakariri river gorge. Once here you'll enjoy discovering Rubicon and Mt Torlesse in a 4x4 touring vehicle. What a joy to drive around acres of rugged high country, framed by the jagged peaks of the Southern Alps and river gorges.
After enjoying the exciting 4x4 adventure you will stop for lunch.
Jet Boat ride on the Waimakariri River
Next, continue with a lighting fast jet boat ride where you are treated to an entirely different view of the magnificent high country. Zipping up the Waimakariri River, you'll ride up the steep-walled gorge to Stair Case Viaduct. Experience the thrill of skimming over the water- at times only inches deep while feeling safe and secure.
Scenic Peninsula & Country Drive
At the conclusion of the tour re-board your motor coach for the approximate 3-hour drive back to the pier in Akaroa.
Please note: This tour involves a jet-boat ride and a 4x4 ride over rough and uneven terrain that can be at high-speed and result in bumpy, jerking motions. A moderate amount of walking is required, with a few steps to negotiate to get on/off the coach and off-road vehicle, and embark/disembark the jet-boat. This tour is not suitable for guests with back and/or neck problems, limited mobility or those who utilise a wheelchair. Wear lightweight, comfortable clothing, flat, closed-toe walking shoes and sun protection, and bring a windbreaker or sweater for the jet-boat ride. Space on this tour is very limited: we suggest you book in advance to avoid disappointment. Order of sights may vary.
Embrace the splendid beauty of Banks Peninsula during this memorable excursion to a traditional New Zealand hill country farm.
Scenic Coastal Drive & Akaroa
Depart the pier for the scenic, approximately 45-minute drive to the Paua Bay Farm. Drive through the charming village of Akaroa, which was the first South Island settlement established by the French & British settlers in 1840. Their French and Victorian influences are reflected in Akaroa's quaint wooden houses and pretty gardens. Leaving Akaroa, take in panoramic views overlooking Akaroa Harbour, the Pacific Ocean, an extinct volcano and some of Banks Peninsula's hidden eastern bays before arriving at the Paua Bay Farm.
Paua Bay Farm Visit
Sixth-generation French descendants of the John's family welcome your arrival at Paua Bay Farm. Your visit to the farm begins with a picturesque and informative tour conducted by its owner, Murray Johns or a member of his family. During a visit to the shearing shed, learn about the family and farm history, and how modern-day farming has evolved since 1837.
Sheep-Shearing & Sheepdog Exhibitions
After a sheep-shearing exhibition, Murray's son William or one of the farm hands demonstrates how important sheepdogs are to the operation of the farm by having his expertly-trained dogs muster a mob of sheep over the steep hills and into the sheep yards. Here, you are invited to help separate the sheep before proceeding for a visit to the family homestead and its cottage gardens, which are surrounded by native bush.
Your tour concludes with refreshments served by Murray's wife, Sue before driving back to the pier.
Please note: This tour requires a minimal amount of walking. It is suitable for guests with limited mobility but is not wheelchair accessible. This tour is not suggested for guests with back and/or neck problems due to the winding slopes and uneven surfaces during the ride to/from the farm. Wear lightweight, comfortable clothing, flat, closed-toe walking shoes and sun protection, and bring a windbreaker or sweater in the event of rain. Space on this tour is extremely limited; we suggest you book well in advance to avoid disappointment.
Explore three of the Akaroa area's best known attractions on this half-day excursion.
Depart the pier via coach for the short drive from Akaroa through Duvauchelles Bay towards the Hilltop Look out.
Spectacular views of Akaroa Harbour reward you from the Hilltop Tavern - a well-known resting point for well over a century when horse driven coaches travelled between Akaroa and Christchurch. Relax over a light refreshment on what is one of the most iconic views in New Zealand.
Okains Bay Maori & Colonial Museum
Travel up onto the Summit Road for amazing views and great photo opportunities before dropping down into Okains Bay to visit the Okains Bay Maori and Colonial Museum. Originally started as the private collection of Maori artefacts collected by a local resident, in 1968, the disused Okains Bay Cheese Factory was purchased and after many years of renovation, opened as a public Museum in 1977. The exhibits include a working Blacksmith's shop, a print shop, a saddlery, the restored school, Maori Meeting House and Colonial Hall, and the former Akaroa grandstand.
Next, make your way back into Akaroa for a visit to the famous Giant's House. This mosaic and sculpture garden was created around the first Bank Manager's home in Akaroa, built in 1880 of Totara and Kauri timbers. Admire a variety of unique garden artwork including mosaic steps, an extraordinary sculptural wall mosaic, welded steel sculptures and other creations. The garden, gallery and homestead are full of surprises.
Re-board the coach for the brief drive back to the pier and your awaiting ship.
Please note: This tour requires an extensive amount of walking, including a steep driveway and steps to negotiate, and is not suitable for guests with limited mobility or those who utilise a wheelchair. Order of sites seen may vary