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Christchurch to Akaroa: 12 Must-See Stops Along the Way

If you’re planning to drive from Christchurch to Akaroa, you’re probably looking for a few things to see along the way. From gorgeous nature walks to charming local boutiques, there’s plenty here to fill your itinerary. So take your time on this drive and enjoy our recommended stops.

If you’re planning to head out from Christchurch to Akaroa, you might want to stretch those legs on your scenic drive.

Sure, the drive on Statehighway 75 is just under 1.5 hours, but you’ll be surprised at how much you can pack in.

Gorgeous gardens? Check.

Quaint local cafes and orchards? You bet.

Amazing local wildlife? Sure thing!

So, let’s uncover the best places to stop on the way from Christchurch to Akaroa. They’ll seriously boost your road trip.

A car on the road passing by a signpost.
Driving in and around Akaroa is always a treat. Photo: Graeme Murray.

The best places to Stop between Christchurch and Akaroa

1. Halswell Quarry – scenic walking tracks

The Halswell Quarry is approximately 18 minutes from the centre of Christchurch and boasts everything from historic sites to city gardens.

It’s the perfect place to stop for a picnic or a nice walk before properly setting off on your drive to Akaroa.

The Quarry Park spans around 60 hectares and is large enough for mountain biking (check out the Crocodile Track!).

But if you’re just after a simple walk, the Rim Track or Sister City Gardens loop are both beautiful options.

While you’re on the Gardens loop, make sure you keep an eye out for the Japanese and Songpa-Gu Gardens. They feature beautiful blooms and traditional statues that are worth the visit on their own.

Kennedys Bush Road, Kennedys Bush, Christchurch 8025

Did you know? Dogs are allowed on most of these tracks, as long as they’re on a leash.

2. Little River Café

Next on our road trip to Akaroa is Little River Café.

This place may be small, but it packs a serious punch on multiple fronts.

Not only does it serve delicious homemade meals made with local ingredients, but it also functions as a store.

So, between your bites of eggs Benedict and cake from their cabinet, you can pick up a few souvenirs for yourself or loved ones back home.

The local wine and beer are always worth a look, but the small gifts and art gallery linked to the main eatery are amazing.

It’s a very popular pitstop for locals and anyone taking the journey from Christchurch to Akaroa.

For that reason, you may need to wait a few minutes for a table.

2759 River Road, Tuakau 2121

Photo: Little River Café.

3. Cheskin Orchard

Cheskin Orchard is a little-known pitstop on the way from Christchurch to Akaroa, but if you’re in town at the right time of year, you’ll have access to the freshest produce on the South Island.

This gem in Cooptown is a simple fruit and vegetable shop that offers a local collection of fresh-harvested stone fruit (among other things).

And if you’re lucky enough, you might also be able to grab their famous coconut ice peaches.

We love Cheskin as not only is the fruit relatively affordable, but the cherries, apricots and peaches are some of the biggest you’ll ever see.

4547 Christchurch Akaroa Road, Little River 7591

Photo: Cheskin Orchard.

4. Lake Forsyth

As you get closer to Akaroa, you’ll find Lake Forsyth.

This coastal lake is tucked away near Little River.

It is a culturally significant spot for Ngāi Tahu (a Māori iwi/tribe) and an important resource. This is because of mahinga kai which essentially means ‘to work the food’. It relates to the value of connecting with the natural world and valuing its resources.

Along with its cultural significance, the shallow lake spans an impressive 627 hectares and is a great spot for some fresh air.

We recommend you stretch your legs here before continuing on your way further into Banks Peninsula.

Photo: Nathanael Coyne.

5. Saddle Hill Summit Track (small Detour)

Okay, so this is a bit of a detour if you’re taking the traditional route from Christchurch to Akaroa.

But the Saddle Hill Summit Track is well worth checking out if you’re in the area.

It’s part of the Saddle Hill Nature Reserve and is a family-friendly trail that offers incredible views.

Seriously, you’ll be able to see everything from Akaroa Harbour and Kaitorete to the peaks of Banks Peninsula along the way!

It’s a 1.6 km return via the same track and takes approximately 90 minutes to complete.

Although it starts with a short climb, the track quickly levels out making it suitable for almost all abilities.

To get there, find the track entrance on Bossu Road. The track entrance is marked around 400 metres down this road by a dedicated car park.

6. Hilltop Lookout Point

Back on the main road from Christchurch to Akaroa, you’ll find Hilltop Lookout Point. This can be a quick photo opportunity or a full-blown hike.

If you’re visiting via Summit Road, there’s walking access just off the street that leads into a very short bush walk. This takes you to a 2000-year-old tōtara tree that’s well worth seeing.

If you’re struggling to find it, this handy Google Maps pin should help.

While you’re there, you can also head out to the beautiful Eastern Bays like Okains Bay and Pigeon Bay…

7. Pigeon Bay (small detour)

If you have the time, Pigeon Bay should be on your list of Christchurch to Akaroa pitstops.

This tiny town in the South Island is known for its luxury holidays (thanks to its impressive location) but there’s much more to this spot than B&Bs.

While you’re in Pigeon Bay, make sure you check out the Pigeon Bay Walkway for spectacular coastal views.

The entire hike is a fairly long at a 14 km return but if you have the energy, the bay views are truly exquisite (and you may even spot some hillside sheep).

8. Okains Bay (small detour)

The Okains Bay Museum is a particular highlight that hosts Collections of National Significance.

So, expect to find out all about life on the Banks Peninsula and Aotearoa from years gone by.

There’s lots to love in the museum, but the early Pākehā items are particularly impressive.

While at Okains Bay, we recommend heading along to the beach and/or estuary for a swim or walk.

And, if you’re looking for a holiday spot to return to, the campground there is in a beautiful spot.

9. Shamarra Alpacas

Animal lovers, this one’s for you – Shamarra Alpacas [promo code NZTT].

This is one of the absolute best attractions on the drive to Akaroa, and you’ll find it just over an hour from Christchurch (73 km).

Not only will you get to cuddle with real alpacas that are worth the price of admission, but you’ll learn all about these gorgeous creatures!

You can’t beat the impressive panoramas of the Banks Peninsula from here either.

The tour lasts around an hour and runs 7 days a week across 3 separate slots (11 am, 1 pm, and 4 pm).

Just make sure you swing by before the final tour of the day is underway.

Before you leave, we also recommend you check out the gift shop which is home to some authentic alpaca wool products.

328 Wainui Main Road, Akaroa 7582

Photo: Kerrie Hollman, NZTT member.

10. Barry’s Bay Cheese Shop

Speaking of authentic souvenirs, no trip from Christchurch would be complete without stopping by Barry’s Bay Cheese Shop!

They make traditional cheeses from fresh, local Banks Peninsula milk.

Each block and round is handcrafted, and you can even try a few cubes for free if you’re not sure what you fancy.

Whether you’re craving flavoured cheddar, European wheels or cold smoked picks, there’ll be something on the menu you’ll love.

Plus the shop has been operational since 1895, making it one of the oldest boutiques in the area.

5807 Christchurch Akaroa Road, Duvauchelle 7582

Photo: Barrys Bay Cheese.

11. Ōnawe Track

Just before you hit the centre of Akaroa, you’ll happen upon the Ōnawe Track.

You can access it from a small car park on Ōnawe Flat Road.

This is a moderately challenging 2.9 km out-and-back trail that has amazing views of the Ōnawe Peninsula and the Akaroa Harbour.

Just be warned that you will get wet unless you walk at low tide – so, bear that in mind if you don’t fancy a swim.

50 Onawe Flat Road, Duvauchelle 7581

12. Akaroa

The final stop on any road trip from Christchurch to Akaroa is (of course) Akaroa itself!

Tucked right by an extinct volcano,, there’s no shortage of things to do in Akaroa.

Not only is it a food and drink wonderland (the Craft and Distilling House is a must-visit), but it’s incredibly beautiful.

So, it only makes sense to take a [discounted] kayak out on the Pacific or to join a [discounted] ebike tour right?!

You should also take time to visit the Giant’s House which is essentially a garden packed with mosaics and colourful sculptures.

Oh, and no trip would be complete without a [discounted] visit to the Pōhatu Penguins

Not only is a penguin tour a great way to learn about these flippered fellows, but it’s the best chance to see them up close.

Blue penguins resting on top of the rocks.

There you have it: the ultimate guide on things to see when travelling from Christchurch to Akaroa

If you need any advice on your trip, just get in touch via our Facebook group.

We’d be more than happy to help you plan your perfect South Island itinerary.

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