Holidays with kids Akaroa is an ideal holiday destination for local and overseas visitors due to the mix of activities from polished tourist attractions such as swimming with dolphins (check ethnic statement of any operator offering a wildlife encounter), kayaking the harbour or guided town tours to eclectic cemetery tours. There are free activities for families on a budget from exploring rock pools or finding quirky outdoor sculptures on the Children’s Walk. Together with camping options Banks Peninsula is a favourite family holiday destination.
Okains Bay Māori and Colonial Museum is fun for all ages groups. Kids will enjoy a working blacksmith’s shop with sparks and fire as a backdrop. A majestic war canoe (1867) triggers awe in the sheer raw power of a waka with a story to tell. The rare Akaroa hei tiki pounamu necklace is a treasure for visitors. A special treat is a waka experience for groups. Sign us up, and we participate in a ceremony that is integral to Aotearoa NZ’s identity as a seafaring nation.
- Open: check for up to date information
- Admission: Fees apply
A harbour cruise to find wild dolphins, penguins and native fur seals in their natural habitat. Perhaps it is a warm summer day with the option of swim experience with dolphins in the vicinity. Black Cat Cruises is the oldest operator in the area and offers regular trips around the harbour, as well as dolphin swim experiences; another company to check out is Akaroa Dolphins. For an authentic swim experience that is about sharing the marine habitat with its occupants. Hector’s Dolphin offers options that respect the environment. A trip highlight for wildlife enthusiasts and remember every swim encounter is all about the dolphins.
Penguins, those adorable waddling birds that capture the hearts and minds of every visitor. You are guaranteed to observe penguins, bird poop and all. White-flippered Penguins (Eudyptula minor albosignata) have a sensitive wildlife habitat. Due to the endangered habitat only guided groups are taken into the breeding colony to view the White-flippered Penguins. Carefully check viewing tips as the penguin tours are natural, there is no penguin parade. For further details check out Akaroa Penguin Tours | Wildlife Tour | Akaroa Day Tours
- Admission: fees apply
Village walks, get the kids to find a cemetery and read the tombstones with their stories about horse accidents and nineteenth century pandemics impacting on the health and well being of Akaroa. A treat from Sweet As Bakery popped into the kids backpack will keep those smaller feet walking. For older members of a family the cemetery is a great photo location with sweeping views of the harbour and atmospheric gravestones in the foreground.
The Giant’s House a two for one deal with quirky installations. The Giant’s House with its café, a contemporary art gallery and a terraced garden filled with sculptures and mosaics. The Giant’s House, Akaroa – is a commercial visitor experience created by a local artist who has built a garden of international significance. Families have imaginative outdoor sculptures and hidden corners to peek around. Check Giant’s House for up to date details.
Garden of Tane is Akaroa’s botanic garden that is free to explore. Multiple tracks wend through the Garden of Tane. The garden features a mix of mature exotic trees and native regeneration, flitting bird life, glorious views of harbour and town. There are plaques and signs explaining the history of human occupation and the flora and fauna. Check out Garden of Tane for details.
Akaroa has a Children’s Bay Walkway. What a magical idea for locals and visitors alike with small people in their entourage. Kids and their carers will enjoy panoramic harbour views as well as strategically placed sculptured animals to find. The short track to the harbour views and the giant rhino on the hill is approximately 30 minutes one way. While the track is uphill it is an easy grade, in the wet the track could be slippery. Perhaps you will have to do the walk twice due its popularity with your kids.
A lighthouse always makes a great photo location yet too often it is a heroic steep climb to the sweeping views. Akaroa’s lighthouse is a treat with an easy grade footpath from the Akaroa Wharf all the way around to the Lighthouse. The walk is 1.5km which is doable for little legs.
TIP: There is no shade on a hot summer day. Remember to carry water. which is about 1.5km.
The beach is a kiwi staple and Akaroa and the Banks Peninsula offers plenty of choice. The Akaroa beach is a popular visitor destination yet for those with a vehicle explore one of the many incredible bays and beaches of Banks Peninsula. Le Bons Bay is a shallow beach perfect for toddlers to paddle.
Akaroa to Le Bons Bay distance
Tell the kids the story of NZPlaces Takamatua Bay. A fascinating microcosm of the Australian / NZ story of pre-European settlement to the present depopulation. The stony beach was a well known foraging hot spot for Maori looking for crabs. The steep but walkable cliffs explore the beach for crabs and marine creatures in the low tide rocky foreshore.
TIP: Akaroa Museum Te Whare Taonga has an extensive collection of historic materials. There are a number of free walking guides at the museum entrance. The museum is free and a great option for a rainy day.
The journey is worth it.