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Akaroa & Banks Peninsula/New Zealand

Introducing Akaroa & Banks Peninsula

Banks Peninsula and its hills were formed by two giant volcanic eruptions about 8 million years ago. Small harbours such as Le Bons, Pigeon and Little Akaloa Bays radiate out from the peninsula’s centre, giving it a cogwheel shape. The historic town of Akaroa, 83km from Christchurch, is a highlight, as is the absurdly beautiful drive along Summit Rd around the edge of the original crater.

Akaroa (‘Long Harbour’ in Maori) was the site of the country’s first French settlement; descendants of the original French settlers still reside here. It’s a charming town that strives to re-create the feel of a French provincial village, down to the names of its streets (Rues Lavaud, Balguerie and Jolie) and houses (Langlois-Eteveneaux). There are also a few choice eateries.

If you’re not in a hurry, it’s definitely worth spending a few leisurely days in the excellent budget accommodations that dot the outer bays of Banks Peninsula. Most accommodation will arrange pick-up in Akaroa.