While you’re here, you won’t want to miss –
The Banks Peninsula and Selwyn are two of the Canterbury region’s most enigmatic and scenic districts – with many popular tourist attractions. Banks Peninsula, situated to the east of Christchurch was formed by volcanic activity millions of years ago and is home to Akaroa, the only French settlement attempted in New Zealand.
Don’t forget about spectacular Selwyn in the upper middle of the region with its majestic alpine scenery and heritage towns. Although you can easily travel by car through Selwyn, with scenery like this you won’t want to be behind the wheel. Consider a ride on the TranzAlpine railway instead.
Whichever district you explore first, or how you choose to travel, be sure to keep your camera charged and ready!
Things to Do in Akaroa
Delightful Akaroa is a charming French-influenced village due to the French settlers who made it home in 1840.
French inspired architecture, cafes, cuisine and street signs all serve to give a decidedly European feel to this small harbor town. Something is always happening too – a market, boat regatta, festival or annual cycle race. Akaroa is a buzzing place.
Shopping is one activity you’ll want to indulge in; eating is a close second. With plenty of French food at every turn, it’s easy to say c’est la vie to the waistline! You’ll find a range of things to do in Akaroa – including walking, swimming with dolphins, kayaking, mountain biking and nature tours – to burn off any excess calories.
Fine weather is always conducive to exploring the beautiful scenic spots near Akaroa.
Ellangowan, Otepatotu, Montgomery Park and Little Akaloa are just a few of the places to visit for a picnic on the peninsula outside town. Prepare to stop on the road to Barry’s Bay – you’ll find the Barrys Bay Cheese factory & shop, one of the South Island’s best known varieties. The winding road from Christchurch has plenty of small towns such as Little River and Birdlings Flat for those who love arts & crafts or wild pebbled beaches.
Catch the TranzAlpine railway from Christchurch to Arthur’s Pass to best experience the scenic grandeur of neighboring Selwyn.
Considered one of the top railway journeys in the world, you’ll enjoy the sight of the snow-capped Southern Alps in the distance as you cross through acres of patchwork-quilted farmland and alongside rushing rivers.
The track heads up toward Arthur’s Pass via breathtaking feats of engineering. There are 4 viaducts and 19 tunnels on the 3-hour journey which ends in Greymouth, on the West Coast.
Arthur’s Pass Village
If you don’t wish to travel to Greymouth on the TranzAlpine, stopping off at Arthur’s Pass Village for a day trip or overnight stay is an option. Though small, it’s a good base if you’d like to explore the area.
The village, offering both dining and accommodation, is close to some of the great walks available in the beautiful Arthur’s Pass National Park – Bealey Valley, Bridal Veil Walk and Devil’s Punchbowl Falls. Mountain biking, camping and bird watching are popular activities during the warmer months, while skiing and snowboarding reign in winter.
Whatever your interests, the Banks Peninsula and Selwyn are two diverse districts that offer something for everyone. In fact once you’ve experienced Akaroa’s excellent French cuisine or the beautiful scenery of Arthur’s Pass it could be difficult to tear yourself away.