Akaroa New Zealand
We are wildlife voyeurs and take every opportunity to experience the animals in their natural habitats on all of our travels. When Coast Up Close Wildlife Adventures invited us to join them while we were on New Zealand’s South Island, we planned a couple days in Akaroa New Zealand. So glad we did! See Akaroa with us …
While we were invited guests on the Coast Up Close boat tour, this is a totally independent honest review. I was not financially compensated for this post. The opinions are my own based on my experience.
Akaroa New Zealand is a small town with an aqua blue harbour and a small beach. The beachfront is lined with shops, restaurants and pubs, gardens, and quaint historical sights. It’s lovely to stroll along the waterfront. Be sure to visit the pier where boats leave on all sorts of water excursions – from harbor cruises, kayaking, to diving. The pier houses the Blue Pearl gallery, a shop whose owners farm blue pearls in abalone and make gorgeous jewelry; there is a free film about the process and browsing is encouraged.
Anyone who visits Akaroa New Zealand should not leave without trying the local salmon and the local mussels. We had the salmon fish and chips grilled fresh from the truck on the end of the pier. The woman proprietor buys her fish directly from the fisherman at the dock. I purchased fresh fish to cook at home also. Yum!
Why Akaroa New Zealand?
A quaint beach town, settled by the French on a calm bay on the Banks Peninsula, is a great place to relax. Akaroa New Zealand offers great eating – fresh fish, grilled on the docks, or in the restaurants dotting the shoreline. Restaurants also offer great local brews and wonderful New Zealand wine; the local New Zealand fruits are juicy and delicious. Find all sorts of water play opportunities to indulge in – from sailing, diving, swimming with the local Hector dolphins, fishing, and of course wildlife excursions, of which there are many. We went with Coast Up Close and recommend them over the other operations.
Driving from Christchurch to Akaroa New Zealand treats the visual senses to the beauty of farmland, hill and mountain-scapes, and sea views. It is a short 90 minute beautiful drive from Christchurch to Akaroa.
Why Choose Coast Up Close?
The operation has a seasoned captain who ran boats for other operators before starting Coast Up Close. They have won several Certificates of Excellence from TripAdvisor and are an approved Department of Conservation operator who supports conservation worldwide.
Captain Tony knows the waters, and where to see various types of wildlife very close to their habitats. His boat is smaller than most that offer a similar tour, and that is a big plus. The smaller boat enables closer encounters with baby seal pups, dolphins, shags, and other wildlife compared to the large catamarans. Coast Up Close provides a more intimate experience, and Tony talks with everyone, making all feel very comfortable.
We saw Hector dolphins, little blue penguins, several types of cormorants or shags, seals, and pools with seal pups playing. All in all we had a fun time with Tony and Anna who is also very adept at running the boat while Tony shares information and local lore with guests. He is also a great photographer – view his photos.
Originally a fishing boat built in 1964, the captain, Tony, renovated and restored her to a reliable twin engine leisure boat that comfortably seats over 30 people. People can easily move around from the fore-deck to the saloon, wheelhouse, upper deck or back deck for a variety of viewing options. The boat is comfortable, and offers indoor and outdoor seating. We took advantage of both. Have a look at the boat.
Take clothing layers, and a rain jacket. It can get windy, cool, and wet without warning, or sunny and hot. It is a 2.5 hour experience, leaving at either 10:15 or 1:45. We chose to go in the morning, when the waters are usually calmer.
If going to New Zealand’s South Island, definitely fit Akaroa into your trip; for the wildlife harbor tour, the food, activities, and the quaint beach town. I recommend Captain Tony and Coast Up Close. In 2017, the cost was $75 NZ per person, and well worth the price.