Once the only French settlement in New Zealand, Akaroa’s heritage architecture, volcanic harbour and croissant-rolling bakeries provide plenty of reasons to hang out at this relaxed Canterbury township. From Colonial-era inns to waterfront motels, we’ve put together a list of the best places to stay.
The motel’s full name, Maison Par Quay, not only hints at the area’s French history but also the view you’ll be afforded from these 12 generously furnished studio apartments. A balcony or patio will grant you a view of Akaroa Harbour, worth it alone for the sunset over Daly’s Wharf. The two-storey building also boasts underfloor heating for colder days, while its ground-floor studio room is wheelchair accessible.
Found in the leafy north end of the bay, between L’aube Hill Reserve and Akaroa Recreation Ground, the private garden at La Rochelle Motel gives you the chance to try the traditional French game, pétanque. Fishing and tennis gear can also be hired free of charge for local use. Continental breakfasts are available, while for dinner, hosts Trevor and Erica are likely to recommend the sumptuous seafood dishes at the Little Bistro, a two-minute walk away.
A babbling brook runs through the grounds of this tranquil B&B that can also be rented as an entire holiday home. Along with four super-king suites, the property comes with a fully equipped kitchen, laundry room and library. Owners Ali and Charl are happy for you to bring your pets, and the hosts’ own cats can be spotted lounging among the roses and rhododendrons. Fresh berries and veg grown in the garden feature as part of a sumptuous breakfast.
This stately residence on Rue Balguerie was built in 1857 and is surrounded by the three-acre (1.2ha) Blythcliffe forest. It also happens to be the home of John and Leslie, who happily invite you to stay in one of three rooms at their guesthouse. Here, you can freely explore the protected grounds brimming with native species, including a rare chance to feed tame eels in the Balguerie Stream.
Just metres from the water’s edge, enjoy the exclusive use of a private jetty at Akaroa Waterfront Motel. Dive in for a swim or – for a small additional charge – explore in a kayak. An activity-crammed garden includes a pool table, giant chess board and barbecue equipment. Around the corner, Rona’s Café offers fresh coffee and croissants, and a table in the courtyard to enjoy the morning sun.
The French tricolore flies proudly outside this Beach Road inn, a pétanque throw from where French whalers first landed in 1838. Penthouse suites here include leather furnishings, double spa baths and roomy balconies. You’ll find elegant four-poster beds in the suitably named romantic suites, though its most unique room makes smart use of a glass-panelled turret, offering a 270-degree view of the waterfront.
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