From Lake Tekapo to the seaside village of Akaroa is a full day’s drive when a stop for coffee and cake in Geraldine and a grocery run in Asherton is included in the trip.
Akaroa, on the mountainous Banks Peninsula, was originally founded by a French whaling captain. In 1840 he returned from France with 60 settlers and discovered the British had arrived in his absence. The early French influence remains alive with street names, flags and a sense of French culture.
The QE2 arrived early one morning during our stay to turn hundreds of passengers loose on the narrow streets. Most would take bus tours into Christchurch, about an hour’s drive away.
We took an early morning boat tour of the harbour to see petrels, albatross, shags, penguins, terns, gulls and fur seals as well as the interesting rock formations.
Shags on the rocky shoreline
Fur seals basking in the sun
The old lighthouse overlooking the inner harbour
We toured the Giant’s Garden, a private mosaic sculpture garden that reminded us of Parc Guell in Barcelona.
En route to Christchurch, we drove through the port town of Lyttleton along lovely coves and inlets. Lyttleton’s harbour suffered extensive damage when the sea floor rose during the Christchurch earthquakes. As a result, cruise ships use Akaroa for access to Christchurch.