Guests tell us that driving through New Zealand is an amazing experience, with stunning vistas opening up at every corner
Akaroa Scenic drives
The Tourist Drive from the Hilltop takes in the spectacular views into the inner harbour and outer bays from the Summit Rd. Just before dropping down Long Bay Rd into Takamatua, the view to the left draws the eye across the acclaimed Hinewai Reserve to the horizon where the vast Pacific Ocean and the sky play with the light. On the way down a stop and gentle stroll at the Heritage Park yield views over Akaroa and the inner harbour.
Once in the village Rue Lavaud takes the traveller through to French Bay and, at the corner by the fire station becomes Rue Jolie. Access the waterfront via a right turn at Tressori Motor Lodge. Otherwise carry on up the hill on Rue Jolie past the Garden of Tane.
At the T intersection the road to the right heads past the cemeteries with names of Roman Catholic and Dissenters towards Onuku Marae and the beginning of the Banks Track.
To the left Lighthouse Rd rises steeply, above the Meniscus vineyards, with views across the inner harbour basin. After reaching the ridge the road carries on out towards the harbour heads. It changes to gravel and is narrow with an uneven surface in many places. Drivers confident with the
challenges of this type of road are rewarded with spectacular views of the harbour heads and into Haylocks Bay where a massive sea arch stands majestically at the entrance.
Tours to Pohatu (Flea Bay) penguin colony and marine reserve can be self drive or depart from Akaroa. Each has its advantages. Self drive tours can be taken at leisure however the drawback is the temptation to let the eyes wander from the road across the stunning scenery!
All the outer bays are spectacular in their own way and offer different rewards for their visitors. The intricately carved inside of St Luke’s Church at Little Akaloa, the Okains Bay museum, Pigeon Bay walkway, Le Bons Bay beach, Hickory Bay surfing, Hinewau Reserve at Otanerito (Long) Bay are just a few of the features worth a look.
It is possible to drive from Lyttleton Harbour via Purau and Port Levy to Pigeon Bay. It is mostly gravel, narrow and, in places, steep. The Pigeon Bay to Okains is now fully sealed.
Back in the inner harbour the square flat top of Mt Bossu is a feature of the skyline. From Barry’s Bay Cheese Factory the road passes through French Farm and Wainui. The adventurous can carry on up to Mt Bossu where limitless views of Akaroa Harbour and the Kaikoura ranges to the north are balanced by the southern Pacific Ocean, Kaitorete Spit, Lake Ellesmere, Canterbury Plains and the Southern Alps to the south, east and west. Again the road is narrow and gravel and in places after rain it can be rough. Taken slowly with care it eventually reaches Okuti Valley near Little River.