Guided Tours for Cruise Ship Passengers calling at Akaroa
Day tours from Akaroa for your private group, from 1 to 11 passengers.
Because of earthquake damage to Christchurch's main port at Lyttelton, almost all cruise ships are currently calling at the little seaside town of Akaroa. Ships anchor in the centre of Akaroa Harbour, and passengers are tendered ashore - this takes around 10-15 minutes.
Akaroa and its harbour are beautifully situated within a ring of high green hills, the remnants of a long-extinct volcanic crater. Almost any tour that you take away from Akaroa with take you over the rim of the hills, and (weather permitting) excellent views are guaranteed!
Please note that, because Akaroa is some distance from Christchurch (about 1 hour 20 minutes driving to the city centre), tours tend to be more expensive than for tours ex-Christchurch or ex-Lyttelton, because Christchurch-based tour operators have to drive from Christchurch to Akaroa to pick passengers up.
The Inside Story is operating 3 tours for groups of cruise ship passengers calling at Akaroa. For private groups, these itineraries can be modified to suit your interests:
(1) Christchurch Tour
Despite the recent earthquakes, Christchurch remains an attractive city with plenty of interest. To be witness to the city's situation and recovery is a moving and unforgettable experience for the visitor.
Departing Akaroa Harbour, we drive over the encircling hills, and our first stop in the Christchurch area is the port town of Lyttleton, with its quirky steep streets of wooden cottages.
We visit the beach village of Sumner, prettily enclosed between headlands.
We tour Christchurch city centre. Although some parts are still closed to the public, some attractive areas in the vicinity of the Avon River, Botanic Gardens and Canterbury Museum can be visited. Many visitors enjoy the visit to the colourful little 'container mall'. You have a little free time in the city to explore, shop and have lunch.
There may be time to visit the beautiful gardens at Mona Vale, or alternatively to take in an expansive city view from Cashmere, before returning to Akaroa.
(2) Banks Peninsula Tour
There is more to Banks Peninsula than Akaroa. The peninsula is the large remnant of a long-extinct volcanic field, characterised by high hills, crags, pockets of forest and long azure bays.
Much of this day takes you well off the beaten track, and typically includes:
Driving over the semi-wild steep farm country on the high hills of the peninsula.
Stretching your legs at beautiful remote bays, home to tiny local communities.
Visits to private gardens with their own distinctive flavour, designed around their own settings in the New Zealand landscape.
Lunch at the locally popular Little River Cafe - its adjoining gallery is one of the best in the region.
Visit the shop at the little Barrys Bay cheese factory, makers of traditional European cheeses.
(3) Arthur's Pass Highway Tour
For many cruise passengers, this tour into the Canterbury high country is their only chance to get among the New Zealand mountains. Along with plenty of alpine scenery, you will see limestone rock formations, subalpine lakes, forests of southern beech, and broad 'braided' river beds.
Please note however, that Akaroa is somewhat further from the mountains than is Christchurch. There is no guarantee of getting as far as Arthur's Pass Village - it depends on how long your ship is in port.
Also please note that the TranAlpine train ride is not available on this tour.
After departing Akaroa Harbour, we cross the Canterbury Plains and enter the mountain country, crossing Porters Pass.
We pass by pockets of large limestone outcrops and pretty subalpine lakes.
We drive by the wide bed of the 'braided' Waimakariri River, looking across the the forested slopes and steep peaks of Arthur's Pass National Park.
If you have sufficient time ashore, we reach Arthur's Pass Village, in a deep valley in the Southern Alps. If your ship has a particularly late departure, we can drive the extra distance to the pass itself.
If your cruise ship is calling at Lyttelton, please refer to Private tours from Christchurch