Day Trip From Christchurch – Explore The Banks Peninsula

Tuesday, November 20th, 2018

Read about 'Day Trip From Christchurch – Explore The Banks Peninsula' on USAVE, the place for all things car rental.

The excellent thing about travelling around New Zealand is how many different locations there are to explore within easy reach of the main centres. Just outside of Christchurch you will find the beautiful region known as Banks Peninsula, home to a great selection of picturesque little bays, each with their own unique little settlements and charming character.

An entire holiday could be devoted to exploring and discovering all of the bays and inlets of the Banks Peninsula, or you could narrow it down to one or two favourites for a fantastic day trip. Here are our top picks for the best places to visit on the Banks Peninsula in Christchurch.



Only a 90 minute scenic drive from Christchurch, the largest and most well known destination within the Banks Peninsula is Akaroa. The township of Akaroa is the home of New Zealand’s only former French settlement. Set in a pretty sheltered harbour, the Akaroa of today is a popular coastal village with a very French feel and beautiful colonial architecture, making it a popular destination for romantic getaways and family day trips.

Akaroa is approximately 85 km from central Christchurch, with the main route along State Highway 75. The route passes through some spectacular Canterbury scenery; sheep and cattle graze the lush hills and the sparkling waters of Lake Ellesmere provide a stunning backdrop to this enjoyable drive. 

Along the way stop at Little River and visit the Art Gallery and Cafe, with its pretty courtyard and homemade treats. Beyond Little River, the road to Akaroa rises steeply twisting its way over rugged hills and can be challenging at times, so keep well left, be patient and take your time.  

Upon arrival at Akaroa enjoy a good selection of waterside restaurants and cafes, as well as galleries and gift shops, plus lots of water-based activities and nature walks for those seeking to connect with the great outdoors.

Departing regularly from the local wharf, dolphin watching and fishing trips are very popular with tourists. Sea kayaking or paddle-boarding is a fun way to get out on the harbour and enjoy a beautiful sunny day. There are also a number of vineyards in the area within easy reach in your rental car.

With so much to keep you occupied, an overnight stay is highly recommended. There are plenty of accommodation options in Akaroa with everything from Backpackers and Bed & Breakfasts to Home Stays, a variety of Holiday Homes and the more traditional Hotels and Motels.

Akaroa Viewed From Hilltop

The 20 Best Bays In Banks Peninsula

While Akaroa is the most popular place to visit on the Banks Peninsula, getting off the beaten track and exploring the lesser known bays is a great way to see some more of this amazing little slice of paradise. To help you get started we have put together this list of the 20 best bays to visit on the Banks Peninsula – drive safe and have a great time!

1. Tumbledown Bay

Just 1 hour 15 minutes from Christchurch and 1 hour from Akaroa, Tumbledown Bay is a remote destination along some very narrow roads – not for the faint hearted or those in large campervans! The Bay itself is also narrow with a small sandy beach.

2. Te Oka Bay

Right next door to Tumbledown Bay is Te Oka Bay, a very small, driftwood strewn patch of beach within a narrow bay. The Te Oka Reserve walking track walk is accessible from in between the two Bays.

3. Anchorage Bay

Forming part of the inner bays leading around to Akaroa, Anchorage Bay is found near the settlement of Wainui. 1 hour 20 minutes drive from Christchurch and 25 minutes from Akaroa.

4. French Farm Bay

The perfect little place for an overnight stay, French Farm Bay is home to the luxury French Farm Winery and Lodge, along with the French Farm Garden. If you’re looking for something a bit different, the Te Wepu-intrepid pod retreats offer a unique experience in a series of intimate “pods” set among beautiful farmland, featuring your own private spot among the trees, outdoor hot tubs, and stunning views out over the Bay.

5. Barrys Bay

Next door to French Farm Bay is Barry’s Bay, the home to well-known cheese makers, Barrys Bay Cheese. You simply cant pass through without sampling some of the delicious artisan handcrafted cheese made the traditional way since 1895.

6. Duvauchelle Bay

Just around the corner is Duvauchelle Bay, home to a petrol station, school and holiday park, along with a selection of holiday homes and the Akaroa Golf Club. The Ngaio Point Track is a great place to stretch the legs and get some of that fresh coastal air.

7. Robinsons Bay

Home to the makers of award winning Robinsons Bay Olive Oil, Robinsons Bay is the perfect place to stop for a picnic lunch and enjoy the peaceful surrounds. Robinsons Bay is just ten minutes from Akaroa and 1 hour 15 minutes from Christchurch.

Akaroa Harbour

8. Takamatua Bay

Right next door to Robinsons Bay is Takamauta Bay. A reasonable sized Bay, Takamauta is popular with boaties and fisherman. The Akaroa Country Lodge is located in Takamatua Bay along with the Coombe Farm Homestay and the Kingfisher Smoke House who will happily sell you some of their boutique cured and smoked salmon.

9. Childrens Bay, French Bay and Glen Bay

These three bays make up the Akaroa Harbour and play host to an array of water borne activities, boats and the main Wharf at Akaroa. Enjoy everything Akaroa has to offer, swim with the dolphins, discover the local wildlife or just check out The Blue Pearl Gallery down on the wharf.

10. Hickory Bay

Heading out to the ocean ward side of the Peninsula you will find the remote Hickory Bay. Just 28 minutes from Akaroa and 2 hours from Christchurch, Hickory Bay is only accessible by walking 10 minutes from the road end across farmland to the beach. Always be respectful of the area as you go and remember no dogs are allowed.

11. Le Bons Bay

Le Bons Bay is a small, remote bay with its own little village complete with pretty beach and lots of Kiwi batches dotted about. The beach is great for swimming and walking and there is also a nice inlet area where the Le Bons Stream meets the sea.

12. Okains Bay

Okains Bay contains a fully equipped family camping ground and is one of the most popular Bays in the Banks Peninsula. During the summer time you will find this place is packed with campers and holiday makers. There are onsite toilets, showers (pay as you go) and other limited facilities. The beach is simply beautiful and there is a great little inlet where the Opara Stream meets the sea providing a great swimming area for the kids.

13. Raupo Bay

Sometimes overlooked, Raupo Bay is a great one for clambering over rocks and exploring with the kids. At just an hour and 40 minutes from Christchurch and 45 minutes drive from Akaroa, Raupo Bay is the ideal off-the-beaten track destination.

14. Little Akaloa

A long narrow Bay, Little Akaloa is home to a small settlement just 30 minutes’ drive from Akaroa. The Bay is popular with those looking for safe swimming and boating and there is a small camping ground at the Domain.

15. Pigeon Bay

Pigeon Bay is home to several boutique style accommodations including ‘Annandale Villas’, ‘The Point’ holiday house and ‘The Glen House’ all offering a different perspective on the beautiful bay and its surrounds.

16. Port Levy

Some parts of the Peter Jackson film Heavenly Creatures were filmed in Port Levy, the Bay is home to a jetty (featured in the film) and a small population. The Bay itself is long and narrow and provides good fishing and boating.

17. Diamond Harbour

Diamond Harbour is a pretty harbour side settlement which makes an ideal location for a picnic or BBQ and a swim in the bay. Time it right and you can catch the water ferry across the harbour to Lyttelton for a bit of a water-based adventure. Diamond Harbour is a 40 minute drive from Christchurch.

18. Charteris Bay

Charteris Bay is perhaps best known for its prominent Orton Bradly Park. Covering 650 hectares the park provides 25 km of walking tracks, including a Rhododendron walk and waterfall. There is also a golf course and tennis courts nearby. Charteris Bay is a 35 minute drive from Christchurch.

19. Governors Bay

Following along the harbour side discover great family friendly swimming spots and easy walks. At the head of the harbour is Governors Bay, initially settled in 1845, the Bay holds a special place in the history of the Christchurch region. Further along Governors Bay Road you will encounter Rapaki Bay, Cass Bay and Corsair Bay, excellent places to stop for lunch or a paddle in the water.

20. Lyttelton

Finally, make sure you stop off in the quaint port town of Lyttelton (not technically a bay, Lyttleton is actually a Harbour), a friendly community with funky cafes and an excellent Farmers Market that takes place on Saturday mornings. When you depart Lyttelton you can drive back to central Christchurch through the 2km long ‘Lyttelton Tunnel’ which burrows its way through the Port Hills.

Need Transport? – Hire A Car In Christchurch

Save money and organise your own Christchurch to Akaroa transport with a rental car from USAVE Christchurch. We have a large selection of rental cars, vans and minibuses for all your Christchurch travel needs and to suit every budget. Grab a great deal on one of our hire cars, pick it up from our handy Christchurch depot, and hit the road today!


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