Dramatic and gorgeous Banks Peninsula (Te Pataka o Rakaihautu) was formed by two giant volcanic eruptions millions of years ago. Harbours and bays radiate out from the peninsula’s centre, giving it an unusual cogwheel shape. Sighted by Captain Cook in 1770, the Peninsula was then inhabited by Maori.
In 1840 French settlers arrived at Akaroa, which had just been claimed under the Treaty of Waitangi by the English. Akaroa (Long Harbour in Maori) is the oldest colonial town in South Island and is famed as New Zealand's sole French Settlement. This historic town is a highlight and descendants of the original French
pioneers still reside here. The harbour was a safe haven for early whalers and sealers working in the wild southern ocean beyond its striking headlands.
The beautiful harbour dominates the landscape and its sparkling waters and the waters around Banks Peninsula are home to the smallest and one of the rarest dolphin species, the Hector’s dolphin, found only in NZ waters. Also found in these waters are New Zealand fur seals, little blue penguins, orcas and a myriad of bird life.
Parts of the town of Akaroa are registered as a Historic Area in recognition of its remarkable collection of historic buildings.
Akaroa is a charming town that strives to recreate the feel of a French provincial village, down to the names of its streets and houses. It is a place to unwind, to wander and soak up times past. Explore the village streets on foot - a charming cottage, a picturesque church, charming vistas and stunning views to reward every footstep.
View more Akaroa and Banks Peninsula photos.
Download the Akaroa & Banks Peninsula Day Safari brochure.