Things to see in Akaroa
Akaroa is a small quaint town, but with plenty to see. Here are some recommendations for something to do if you are here for a day or two.
Akaroa Township Map by Emma Perrin
A must-see when visiting Akaroa in the Akaroa Lighthouse. This lighthouse was moved from Akaroa Heads to the township when replaced by an automatic one in 1980. All the old mechanics inside are preserved and maintained by a group of local volunteers – some who helped move it more than 40 years ago. Get a tour and a flashback through time when visiting New Zealand’s last wooden lighthouse (with fully functional mechanisms).
Read more about the lighthouse: https://www.akaroadolphins.co.nz/our-blog/akaroa-lighthouse/
If you continue walking on Beach Road, past the lighthouse, you will after 10-minutes see a stone staircase on your left. This leads to the Britomart monument, a 15-foot obelisk and a flagpole waving the union Jack from a beautiful view over the harbour. This was raised in 1898 to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, and on the spot that marks where Captain Owen Stanley of the Britomart warship raised the same flag in August 1840 to mark Banks Peninsula as British territory. This was done in head of the French settler ships that were on their way, and who got disappointed when they saw the British flag waving in the wind. (The French stayed in Akaroa under British rule, therefore all the signs of French heritage around town).
Read more about the history: https://www.akaroadolphins.co.nz/discover-akaroa/history/
Ōnuko marae and church
A 10-minute drive from downtown Akaroa you will find Ōnuko a Maori iwi area still home to some families. The marae (courtyard) and the great wharenui (meetinghouse) is often used for ceremonies and gatherings and not open to the public, but you can enjoy the beautiful woodcarvings on the building from the outside. The small wooden church just beside the marae is open for everybody and has a stunning view over the harbour. This is one of the oldest churches in the South Island. Ōnuko is also a place of historical significance because it is the first of three locations in the South Island where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840.
Garden of Tane
The Garden of Tane is a bush reserve in Akaroa. The “garden” mostly consists of wild forest with a labyrinth of small tracks to explore. You will come across lookout points of the harbour, two old cemeteries, and a traditional playground at the main entrance. Enjoy a gentle walk surrounded by native trees and plants and bird song. (The main entrance is at the top of Rue Jolie, but you can also enter the garden from Beach Road close to the lighthouse – there you will see a path going through to the cemetery).
There is two parts of town in Akaroa. One on each side of the beach, following Beach Road turning into Rue Lavaud as the main street running through both. On either side you will find small gift shops, cafes, restaurants, and a wharf. The main wharf is on the side with the Akaroa Dolphins shops and check-in and departure for our Harbour Nature Cruise. The other smaller wharf is called Daly’s wharf. This is a town icon with its octagonal shelter structure and tower-like roof. The wharf is named after James Daly (died 1885) a merchant that build the original wharf to supply his warehouse nearby. Since then it has been restored several times, with the biggest renovations in 1914 and 2002. Today it is mainly used for recreational fishing and boating but has a cultural significance for being part of Akaroa’s history as a coastal settlement. (It takes approximately 20 minutes to walk straight from wharf to wharf)
The Giant’s House
If you enjoy the work of Gaudi in Barcelona and the universe of Alice in Wonderland you must visit The Giant’s house. It is a garden of winding pathways through sculptural mosaic, flowers, succulents, and citrus trees. It is the playful world of local artist Josie Martin. Since 1993 Josie has expanded her creations in this beautiful scenery looking over the hill at the top of Akaroa. Bring the whole family and disappear among giraffes and fountain creatures.
You can drive or walk up the hill on Rue Balguerie (the road across from the supermarket on the corner with the bank). It takes about 20 minutes in a fresh walking pace from the Akaroa Dolphins main shop).
More information here: http://www.thegiantshouse.co.nz/
To download our Akaroa Township Map Click Here
Words & Illustration by Emma Perrin