The old Akaroa lighthouse, Banks Peninsula. Photo / 123rf
Seaside Akaroa is not nearly as sleepy as a small town could be. On a clear day, the town hums with locals and visitors walking the promenade, swimming or cruising on the warm waters of the harbour, and exploring the various hikes in the town’s mountain backdrop.
The best places to eat and drink in Akaroa
You’re right on the water here, so seafood is king. On the corner of Rue Jolie and Church St, you’ll find Murphy’s on the Corner, where the fish of the day is fresh out of the water. Portions are epic – the fish meals are plenty for two people and come in at less than $20. The battered oysters are $1 a piece. Around the back they sell fresh fish if you’d rather do it yourself. They also sell grilled fillets of the Akaroa salmon, which is raised in ocean-water farms on the other side of the harbour.
As the sun goes down, there’s no better spot to be than Harbar, an unassuming looking building that was once the town’s Plunket rooms. Harbar sits right on the waterfront, overlooking the beach, and the sunset views are beautiful. Order from the long gin and tonic list (it’s mix and match, so you can create exactly what you like), and watch the sun slowly falling down behind the peaks across the harbour. Just try not to take a photo every five minutes – it’s almost irresistible. They also serve excellent burgers, gin-marinated mussels, tacos, and pizzas.
Rona’s cafe is where the locals go for their morning coffees, poached eggs and pretzel buns. The menu focuses on fresh, organic and local – the breakfasts are epic, the croissants are baked on-site and if you’re lucky they’ll be serving their fresh lemonade as well.
offers exceptional service and delicious and generous Pacific Indian dishes. Order yellow fish curry, spiced local salmon, scallops with ginger, apple and miso, and maybe a few samples off the excellent local wine list as well.
Where to stay in Akaroa
In an historic local home, French Bay House is a charming B&B with two very charming owners. Jacqui and Tim bought this house when they moved to New Zealand (Tim hails from these parts and Jacqui was born in Hong Kong) and opened their home to guests soon after. There are sweet attic rooms or lower-floor options, all with en suites, king-sized beds and fresh flowers brought in from the grounds. Breakfast includes Jacqui’s homemade granola, Tim’s home-smoked salmon, and eggs from the family’s chooks. Tim is a former guide and will soon have your weekend whipped into shape if you need a little direction.
For more New Zealand travel ideas and inspiration, go to newzealand.com