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Akaroa and Banks Peninsula Small Group Tour (Nature Cruise or Dolphin Swim)

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Christchurch, New Zealand
Akaroa and Banks Peninsula Small Group Tour (Nature Cruise or Dolphin Swim)
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Free cancellation
Up to 24 hours in advance. Learn more
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Safety measures
icon9 hours  (approx.)
Hotel pickup offered
Mobile ticket
iconOffered in: English


Wander the charming village of Akaroa, and opt for either a harbor cruise or dolphin swim on this small-group tour from Christchurch. Start with a scenic drive through the magnificent Banks Peninsula where you’re treated to summit views of Akaroa Harbour, the Canterbury Plains and the distant Southern Alps. Sample locally made cheeses at a cheese factory, explore Akoroa and enjoy a cafe lunch before a nature cruise or dolphin swim alongside Hector's dolphins. Numbers are limited to eight people for a personalized experience.
  • Enjoy cheese tasting at Barry's Bay Cheese Factory
  • Scenic harbor and nature cruise including the option to swim with the Hectors dolphins (option to be selected at time of booking)
  • Enjoy a delicious cafe lunch and picnic morning or afternoon tea
  • Travel in a small group, maximum eight passengers allowing a unique and intimate experience
  • Hotel pickup and drop off
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Cheese factory visit
Cafe lunch
Transport by air-conditioned minivan
Local guide
Light refreshments
Hotel pickup and drop off from all centrally located Christchurch hotels
An Eco-marine harbor cruise - if option selected
An Eco-marine adventure swimming with the Hector's Dolphins - if option selected

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8:15 AM
We can pick from any Hotel, B&B, home-stay within central Christchurch on request
Swim with the world’s smallest and rarest dolphins or opt for a harbor cruise on this full-day tour from Christchurch to the picturesque village of Akaroa, the only French settlement established in New Zealand.

Depart your hotel by minivan and travel south along a scenic route over the Banks Peninsula, an ancient landscape of volcanic origin. When you reach the summit, breathe in the views of tucked-away bays and Akaroa Harbour along with the farmlands of the Canterbury Plains and the snow-capped Southern Alps in the distance. 

After approx. 90 minutes your driver-guide descends into the Akaroa crater, which contains the harbor and picturesque village. Here, start with a tasting of locally made cheeses at Barrys Bay Cheese, established in the 19th century. Meander the quaint French and British settlement teeming with colonial architecture, art galleries, craft shops, wine bars and al fresco cafes where you’ll make a stop for lunch.

In the afternoon, you have your choice of a nature cruise on Akaroa Harbour or a dolphin swim with the world's smallest oceanic dolphin, before making the return trip to Christchurch with drop-off at your hotel.

Nature Cruise:Board the Canterbury Cat and cruise through the clear waters of the harbor in search of birdlife and marine mammals and in their natural habitat, including Hector's dolphins.

Dolphin Swim:Board a specially designed boat that allows you to enter the private domain of Hector's dolphins — found only in New Zealand, usually around the South Island. Watch the playful creatures up close and then enter the water for a once-in-a-lifetime dolphin swim.
Stop At:  
You will travel to Akaroa over the beautiful Banks Peninsula on a high summit route which gives glorious views of farmlands, the Canterbury Plains and the distant Southern Alps as well as remote bays indenting the coastline. From the main wharf in Akaroa boats depart for a Nature Cruise on the harbour. See Hectors Dolphins, little blue penguins, New Zealand fur seals and local bird life. Learn more about the local history from your boat skipper and be awed by the volcanic cliffs that act as sentinels to the harbour entrance. You will have an opportunity to wander around the charming 175 year old French harbour side village of Akaroa with its museum of settlers’ history, art and craft shops and studios before enjoying lunch at an award winning cafe.
Duration: 5 hours 
Admission Ticket Free
Stop At:  
Barrys Bay Cheese
On the journey back to Christchurch we visit the Cheese Factory at Barry’s Bay, the only one remaining on the peninsula from a bygone era.
Duration: 20 minutes
Admission Ticket Free
  • Confirmation will be received within 48 hours of booking, subject to availability
  • A percentage of the tour price is used for the conservation of New Zealand's wildlife, environment and it's endangered species
  • Tour operator picks up from all accommodation: hotel, lodge, Bed & Breakfast in Christchurch. The tour operator will confirm the tour and leave a message at the Christchurch accommodation 24 hours prior to the tour date.
  • A maximum of 10 people per booking
  • Not wheelchair accessible
  • Stroller accessible
  • Service animals allowed
  • Near public transportation
  • Infant seats available
  • Most travelers can participate
  • This tour/activity will have a maximum of 10 travelers
  • OPERATED BY Canterbury Trails
You can cancel up to 24 hours in advance of the experience for a full refund.
  • For a full refund, you must cancel at least 24 hours before the experience’s start time.
  • If you cancel less than 24 hours before the experience’s start time, the amount you paid will not be refunded.
  • Any changes made less than 24 hours before the experience’s start time will not be accepted.
  • Cut-off times are based on the experience’s local time.
  • This experience requires good weather. If it’s canceled due to poor weather, you’ll be offered a different date or a full refund.

Learn more about cancellations.

The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
What is the policy on sanitization during Akaroa and Banks Peninsula Small Group Tour (Nature Cruise or Dolphin Swim)?
A:The policies on sanitization are:

  • Hand sanitizer available to travelers and staff
  • Regularly sanitized high-traffic areas
  • Gear/equipment sanitized between use
  • Transportation vehicles regularly sanitized
See all safety measures taken by Akaroa and Banks Peninsula Small Group Tour (Nature Cruise or Dolphin Swim).
What measures are being taken to ensure staff health & safety during Akaroa and Banks Peninsula Small Group Tour (Nature Cruise or Dolphin Swim)?
A:The policy on staff health & safety is:

  • Guides required to regularly wash hands
See all safety measures taken by Akaroa and Banks Peninsula Small Group Tour (Nature Cruise or Dolphin Swim).

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Reviews by Viator travelers

Showing 1-6 of 30 reviews
Akaroa is a very beautiful, charming...
, Mar 2018
Akaroa is a very beautiful, charming visit. Situated on the banks of an old volcano which has since filled with turquoise colored water. The cruise is very beautiful and gives you great views of the amazing cliffs and dolphins. We also had lunch there overlooking the water. Wonderful day...
Good trip w/congenial small group in...
, Mar 2017
Good trip w/congenial small group in a van. Gorgeous scenery on the Banks Peninsula! My cafe lunch was good and sufficient portions for another meal. My only suggestion is that mid-morning tea break w/good brownies would be better taken earlier and not a half hour before lunch. Driver/Guide Peter, friendly and helpful, probably wanted a table to use such as the one outside at the Cheese place Not a real tasting event there just small samples of their products offered at the inside counter, and he was running late due to morning traffic in the city, but there must be someplace else that would work for an earlier stop. I'd vote for roadside looking down upon Lyttleton Harbour, where we didn't get to stop because Akaroa Harbour is even more beautiful. Two beautiful harbours are not too much to stop, see, and sip. Not many porpoises t'other day because the captain didn't want to take the boat out too far too many pax earlier in the day had been seasick. We did see several though. This cruise was much better value than the one in Dunedin off the Otago Peninsula days earlier. That one was v. short, and we saw more albatrosses from the Hide on the headlands.
Very good scenic tour and the guide...
Lois F
, Oct 2015
Very good scenic tour and the guide was great. The Eco Marine tour is not for everyone because the boat goes extremely close to the rocks and can be unnerving but it was a good tour.
Excellent tour with lots of...
June A. G
, Nov 2014
Excellent tour with lots of interesting places to visit and see. Tour guide was excellent. Well worth seeing!! I appreciate the small groups with lots of interaction with tour guide and other participants.
Great trip. John, my guide was very...
, Nov 2010
Great trip. John, my guide was very friendly and seemed to know everything about the flora and fauna that we came across on the trip. it was very well planned and gives you a chance to get out of the city and see more of the countryside. the sights on the cruise were incredible.
Fantastic! Loved everything about the...
Lazar L
, Mar 2010
Fantastic! Loved everything about the tour, except perhaps the sea sickness. A really enjoyable and memorable day! Would recommend to anyone.

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