The sleepy French settlement of Akaroa on the Banks Peninsula, about an hour's drive from Christchurch along the Summit Road scenic route, is something of a local secret, drawing far more Kiwi holidaymakers than it does tourists.
People come for the scenery, the relaxing atmosphere, fine food and great walking, or to wander its gardens, galleries and craft shops.
The town's use by French whalers in the 1830s bestowed on it a European air that lasts to this day - as evidenced by some of the architecture and French street names.
Boutique country inns like Maison de la Mer make a great base from which to explore. Coastal walks, penguin and fur seal viewing and swimming with dolphins are all possible activities.
Top itineraries in Akaroa
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From the subtropical beaches of the Bay of Islands, the geothermal pools of Rotorua and wine lands of Hawke's Bay to the majestic glaciers of Fox and Franz Josef and the towering peaks of the Southern Alps, New Zealand is home to some of the world's most spectacular driving routes.
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