If you’ve got time on the clock and gas in the tank, a trip to Banks Peninsula is well worth your time. Situated south of Christchurch on the iconic thumb of land that protrudes from the South Island’s east coast, much of Banks Peninsula remains a well-kept secret that keeps the place fuss free and easy-going.
The easy first option of places to visit, the small coastal township of Akaroa takes much of its style from its early French settlers, so if you’re surprised by the French style creperie, cheeses and butchery, that will be why. Plenty of walking and hiking tracks in the area make it a popular spot for outdoor enthusiasts, while on water activities are also a fun alternative. Dolphin sightings are available on nature cruises, or speed things up with a jet boat adventure instead. Evenings are best spent soaking up some of the local hospitality and enjoying some of the best wine and food in the region.
Approximately 10kms from Akaroa, Okains Bay is a remote and beautifully secluded spot to set up camp for a few nights. The one and only camping ground sits right off the beach, and is open in the winter months by use of a good old honesty box. Jump in a kayak, bodysurf the waves, climb the nearby hills, or simply take the chance to sit back and relax in an environment where you’re unlikely to be bothered by any other visitors.
Across the harbour from Lyttelton, Diamond Harbour contains a peaceful community of easy-going coastal people. A couple of cafes, a library and a local cricket pitch a short walk away from a very swimmable secluded beach spot make it the perfect place to spend a sunny afternoon. Or book in to one of the cooking classes at Preserved Cook School where you can learn how to make a range of fine foods including fresh cheese, sauerkraut and dumplings.
An obvious stop if you’re driving from Christchurch to Akaroa, Little River is a popular choice for travelers passing through who are in need of some coffee and food. Lucky for them the Little River Café has everything you need to keep you sustained for the rest of the journey, and the gallery situated right next door holds some incredible local art. If you’re planning on staying longer, why not go all out and see what it’s like to sleep in a silo for the night? SiloStay just down the road has your accommodation needs sorted.