Akaroa and the Banks Peninsula
Akaroa Harbour is on the Banks Peninsula just outside of Christchurch, New Zealand. While the distance is less than 100km to Akaroa, there are many mountainous roads so leave plenty of time. We took a 6 berth campervan there, so larger vehicles are fine, but I’m not sure about driving that road in the winter if there is any possible snow or ice on the road.
The summertime is definitely the best time to visit Akaroa and New Zealand in general. Relatively warm weather, less rain and long summer days are some of the main reasons for this.
We spent a few nights at the freedom camping spot just outside of town in the parking lot near the boat launch and park. There are a limited number of official freedom camping parking spots so get there early. It was an easy walk into town and there was a 4 Square Supermarket very close by, so was very convenient for our stay.
The main square still had the French flag flying and the street names are all still in French. There was definitely a touristy vibe for the area but it didn’t feel overwhelmed by visitors while we were there.
I would recommend taking one of the harbour cruises to see the hector dolphins and to explore the long winding passage out to the Pacific Ocean. This was definitely one of the highlights of our visit!
Akaroa has lots of cafes along the waterfront, gift shops and general stores to explore. There is another area outside of Akaroa, that allows Freedom Camping before you get to the mountain ridge back towards the city. This would be a good idea if arriving late or wanting an early start out of the area.
There are lots of smaller steep, windy roads on the Banks Peninsula that campervans are not recommended, but thankfully the main road that leads to Christchurch is campervan-friendly. I would recommend seeing Akaroa if you have some spare time while in Christchurch. Due to the drive, it’s not good for a day trip but staying only one night and full-day should definitely allow you to see the highlights!
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