Banks Peninsula Travel Guide

A little joie de vivre in Akaroa East of Christchurch, Banks Peninsula boasts two stunning harbours, Akaroa and Lyttelton, and countless small bays and inlets. Inland, the deep valleys rise to steep hills, perfect for capturing the majestic views. Maori, sealers, whalers and French settlers have bequeathed the Banks Peninsula a fascinating legacy. Visitors to Banks Peninsula can soak up the historic atmosphere, swim with dolphins, visit a cheese factory or even try their hand at petanque.

This scenic peninsula was named by Captain James Cook after British naturalist Sir Joseph Banks, who accompanied Cook on his first South Pacific voyage. The bush-covered hills of this headland and its deep inlets are home to a wealth of bird and marine life, including the Banks Peninsula Marine Mammal Sanctuary. 

Lyttelton is the main port of the Canterbury region, its steep streets lined with historic buildings. Dine out at one of the cafés or head to the Saturday morning farmer’s market to sample the local produce. The small town of Little River makes a good stop en route to Akaroa, with its crafts and historic railway station, while the quaint village of Akaroa is famous as New Zealand’s only French settlement. Enjoy the colonial charm of its French-style cafés and heritage buildings, or travel to nearby Duvauchelle for a game of golf on the town’s scenic course.