In 2010 and 2011, Christchurch was rocked by a series of devastating earthquakes so it is a city with a big story to tell.
Today, Christchurch is in transition, from a city full of history and beautiful old buildings, to the rising of a new start from the rubble. With the rebuild well underway, it has much to offer the visitor and promises great things to come. It will be different but a more beautiful, safer, well-designed city in the future.
Christchurch is also the gateway to Banks Peninsula, a special place of rugged volcanic peaks, deeply indented coastline and some of the most magnificent beaches in New Zealand. It also boasts two beautiful harbours created when two large ancient volcanic craters were invaded by the sea. Akaroa harbour, in particular, is likened to the jewel in the crown of Canterbury, and only a one and a half hours drive, at most, from Christchurch, is considered Christchurch's playground.
Akaroa is a delightful historic village with a very French flavour left over by its French heritage. Nestled right at the water’s edge with a backdrop of high craggy peaks, it is one of the most picturesque towns in New Zealand. There are many good eateries and top quality restaurants along the waterfront, as well as great accommodation options; Motels, hotels, B&B's and holiday parks. There is something to suit every taste. There are also fabulous B&B's in fantastic, remote locations around the various bays.
Banks Peninsula has many exciting activities to attract the visitor easily based from Akaroa, too. Harbour activities and tours allow all to enjoy a magnificent stretch of coast, and special wildlife such as the Hectors Dolphins are a delight to encounter on the many excellent cruises offered. Rare species, such as the hectors dolphins and the penguins, have attracted long running conservation programmes. Some of these programmes are privately funded and rely heavily on tourism dollars.
One of these program aims at saving the Little and Yellow eye penguins on Banks Peninsula. Thanks to Pohatu residents, the Little penguin colony there is now over 1200 breeding pairs strong. During the breeding season, 4WD safaris allow you to go on a tour to see the penguins returning to the bay and to meet the people doing the conservation work. Even out of season, rugged Pohatu is a very special place to visit, rich in other wonderful wildlife and birdlife. Pet sheep come running to greet you, hoping for the provided treat you may wish to offer, enthusiastic velvety lips taking it from your offered hands. Trips there run year round.
Pohatu Kayak tours offer some of the best short kayaking trips in New Zealand with a heap of wildlife to see in the small but spectacular area of Pohatu Marine Reserve.
This protected area of coastline has numerous seals around the rocks and experienced guides will point out many sea bird species including penguins. On very calm days many sea caves can be explored. These are found beneath the towering sea cliffs especially along the spectacular outer coast.
Pohatu also offers unique accommodation packages right in the middle of the penguin colony and is part of the famous Banks Peninsula walking track considered to be the most diverse track in New Zealand.
Every landowner of this private track traversing the best of Banks Peninsula's scenery is involved with conservation of both fauna and flora. The track crosses mostly farmland from elevations of just under 700 meters to sea level and also traverses several beautiful reserves and conservation covenants, around spectacular coastline, through rugged gullies and past tumbling waterfalls.
Banks Peninsula is unique and a must visit if you love nature and beautiful scenery.
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