Akaroa (the name literally translates to Long Harbour in Maori) makes for a great day trip from Christchurch. Although the drive isn’t as picturesque as some of the other drives in other parts of South Island, it does cut across some interesting scenery. Most notably are Lakes Ellesmere and Lake Forsyth. I also found this minuscule town called Little River very pretty, especially the part where we crossed a cherry blossom farm.
A Former French Settlement
Akaroa is a small town with French and British colonial history, nestled among hills and the Akaroa Bay. With a population of less than 700 residents, quaint doesn’t even begin to describe it!
Although Akaroa has a rich history of French settlers, apart from the street names (and French flag on Beach Road) little remains to show for it. However, we did notice the residents preparing for a French festival due to start in a few days’ time.
Sadly, we were there just for the day.
As with any town in New Zealand, there’s a lot to do and see in Akaroa. We spent our day walking around the main streets and sitting in Jubilee Park. Honestly, I didn’t feel like getting up from the warm, soft grass!
Akaroa’s quaintness is exemplified in its shops, streets, and restaurants. We found the most incredible curio and antiques shop and ended up buying way more than what we could carry back in our suitcases.
We also saw some really beautiful restaurants in the town but the one that we went to, Akaroa Fish & Chips, we would not recommend.
Lake Forsyth lies 30 minutes outside Akaroa. Probably not the prettiest lake we saw in New Zealand, but that in no way meant it was any less grand. Thanks to deforestation and leeching in the surrounding area, Lake Forsyth has been facing issues related to its poor quality of water for over a century now.
The silver lining – the dark colour of Lake Forsyth only added to the contrast provided by the surrounding green mountains and blue skies. We also drove past a cherry blossom farm, which was first for us. Cherry blossom trees are as is beautiful, now imagine hundreds of them lined up! It was pretty spectacular.
We also ended up parking our car next to some very curious ducks. Those birds can get really intimidating if they stare at you, or start chasing you around. One actually sat under our car and refused to move! The swans weren’t as intrusive. I think it was the first time that I ever saw black swans in the wild.
I’m fairly sure that stopping at Lake Forsyth may not be on everyone’s agenda. But it might be worth stopping by.
If you’re wondering wondering what to do in Christchurch and have run out of options, I’d highly recommend taking a day trip to Akaroa.