I was fast asleep as we wound our way down the hill to Akaroa; Tall poked me in the arm and told me I had to see the view. Under normal circumstances, I probably would have poked him back, but the sight of yachts bobbing gently on the harbour stopped me in my tracks. It was beautiful, with a cloudless blue sky and the late morning sun glinting off the clear waters, and I was quickly shaken out of my (2012)pregnancy-induced sleep.
Akaroa is a popular French and British settlement about an hour out of Christchurch; it has a sleepy feel but was still busy on a mid-January weekend. We drove in behind trucks towing boats, and saw the doors and windows of holiday homes being flung open by newly-arrived guests.
There are a surprising number of things to do in Akaroa; surprising given the size of the place, mainly. There are various walks of varying degrees, mostly taking you through the town and past numerous historic buildings. Taking a stroll past the little boutiques and galleries is a must, as is stopping to eat ice creams on the beach. A little further past the main shopping area is a café selling pretty decent pastries; near the tour booking offices there’s a bakery-slash-café that sells the best, chewiest baguettes I’ve had since leaving the Northern Hemisphere. We ate a lovely meal at a French bistro on the waterfront, close to the playground which meant we could eat and watch Tiny playing to his heart’s content when he’d finished his meal.
We went on a dolphin-spotting cruise on the harbour, which was excellent. They provided a refreshing drink onboard, and kept Tiny entertained so Tall and I could spend some time together, leaning perilously over the side of the boat to look for the speedy little Hector’s dolphins (the world’s smallest and rarest). We learned a lot about the area in general; it was interesting to hear how the tour operators across the region had to change their tour routes following the Christchurch earthquake (for example, they used to take boats into the caves looming along the mouth of the harbour, but for obvious safety reasons, they were no longer doing so). There are a variety of providers, and options for swimming with dolphins, fishing etc.
Our only “issue” during our stay was the presence of ants in our motel room. We spoke to the manager who feigned concern, but didn’t do anything about it. As unintentional payback…Tiny hid a teaspoon in our bags.