Cruise Ships

As the main port of call for the Canterbury region, Akaroa Harbour is the port for a number of cruise ships every October – April. Download this season’s schedule here.

FAQ for Akaroa Port

FAQ for Akaroa Port

Have a question about your arrival in Akaroa or about picking up passengers? Go here.

FAQ-Frequently Asked Questions
Akaroa CRUISE Port

Q. We have friends arriving in Akaroa by cruise. Where should we arrange to meet them and where is the best place to park?

A. Arrange to meet them by the cannon at the start of the main wharf. Park behind the Akaroa Village Inn, or anywhere you can find a park behind there.
Note there is a Traffic Management plan in place for the wharf area.

Q. What is the process when I arrive on the wharf in Akaroa?

A. You arrive off the ship tenders onto the main wharf. You then walk up the wharf where you come across the Akaroa i-Site - Akaroa Adventure Centre Cruise Information Cabin kiosk. It is a small kiosk on the right. The friendly staff offer a FREE booking service for ALL the tour products for the day and provide a FREE and comprehensive information service. 

Q. We will be arriving in Akaroa by Cruise Ship. Would you please tell me what options I have to get from the cruise terminal to the downtown/sites of Akaroa? 

A. Once you are on the main wharf in Akaroa you are in the Akaroa town. You are at the southern end of the town ship. From there it is a 15 minute walk to the northern end of the town. The beach is on the middle.

Q. What is the length of the pier in Akaroa?  My husband uses a cane and it would be helpful to know the length of his walk.

A. The length of the Akaroa wharf is approx. 100 metres. It is a historic wooden wharf and it has raised wooden parts where vehicles drive over it. So take care, it is uneven.

Q. I will visit Akaroa by cruise and I would like to visit many places of interest while visiting Christchurch on the same day.  The cruise will arrive Akaroa at 8 a.m. and leave at 6 p.m. May I have your advice on whether I can rent a car (self-drive) or if there is any shuttle bus or public transportation that I can travel on that day to fit my schedule? 

A. It is possible to rent a car in Akaroa so you have the freedom to go where you want. 
Buses or small tours are a cheaper option and there are many tours and transport options available. Also the drivers have good local knowledge.
All the options are listed on this page here: 

If you see a tour that fits what you want to do, then you can book it advance, otherwise a self-drive car would be a good option.

Q. What are the arrival and departure times of the cruise ships?

 A. The rules of Akaroa harbour are the ships cannot arrive into the harbour before sunrise and they must leave the harbour before sunset. So depending on day light saving hours, this can vary slightly over the summer. Usually they anchor between 7am and depart at approx. 7pm.
If there are weather conditions that may cause them concern, then they can leave earlier.

The first passengers (mostly the ones that have booked on the shore excursions) arrive on the wharf at approx. 7.30am-8am and usually the last tender leaves Akaroa Wharf at 5.30-6pm. 

Q. What is the timetable of the tenders from the wharf back to the cruise ship? We have to be onboard by 07.00PM.

A. The tender boats are the small boats that shuttle passengers (approx. 100 per boat) backwards and forwards all day from the ship to the main Akaroa wharf. It is a 20 minute ride. They usually start at 7.30am and finish at 6pm but this can vary depending on the ship and the weather. Most people go back across to the ship at 4.30pm-5pm. The last buses are usually back on the wharf by 5.30pm. 

Q.  I'm interested in booking a bus for 4 adults from Akaroa to Christchurch. Looking at the 9.30 bus. Can we book on the day or better in advance?

A. There is usually plenty of spaces on the buses and booking on the wharf on arrival is fine. And sometimes is better because if your ship doesn’t make it in because of weather etc. then you don’t have the hassle of trying to get a refund. Also because they let the Shore Excursion passengers off first, sometimes the independents struggle to get off by 9.30am. A 10.30am bus to Christchurch is fine too and avoids the stress of trying to get on shore in time when you are pre booked.
Of course you can pre book, but my advice would be to just wait on the day and book on the wharf on arrival.
If you are booking a tour with a small private operator, then that is different, and my advice would be to book in advance. The 10.30am Cityline tour to Christchurch has plenty of spaces usually and can be booked on the wharf on arrival.

Q. Thank you for our information on  We are interested in transportation only from the cruise ship pier to Christchurch.  Where would we be dropped off in Christchurch?  Friends who live there will pick us up.

A. If you buy a ticket to Christchurch off the wharf, this is where the buses drop you off. In front of the Canterbury Museum, right in the centre of Christchurch.

Q. My family will arrive Akaroa via Norwegian cruise. The departure time is 5pm. We planned to visit Christchurch by buses. However both French Connection and Akaroa shuttle will be back to Akaroa at 4:30pm.  Do we have enough time to go back to ship as the tender will take about 20 minutes? Do you know what time the last tender boat is?

The last tender leaves at different times every cruise day and every ship. We usually find out on the day and the last tender time is posted on a sign on the wharf. These buses mentioned are tailor made buses for the cruise ships, and if they hear that the ship is leaving earlier, they will have an earlier departure. You don’t have to worry about getting back in time, as you will get back in time. 


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Akaroa - Voted Australasia's Best Cruise Destination 2017

Akaroa - Voted Australasia's Best Cruise Destination 2017

Akaroa was named Best Cruise Destination in Australia and New Zealand in the Cruise Critics award for 2017.

Akaroa was named Best Cruise Destination in Australia and New Zealand in the Cruise Critics award for 2017. 

Akaroa has been named New Zealand and Australia’s top cruise destination in the annual Cruise Critic Cruisers’ Choice Awards.
The honour sees Akaroa voted ahead of all other New Zealand and Australian cruise destinations for the October 2016-April 2017 season in the review-rating based awards. Last year’s inaugural Cruisers Choice Awards’ top three were Sydney, Tauranga and Auckland, ahead of Akaroa in fourth. Cruise Critic, TripAdvisor’s cruise site, is the world’s largest online cruise review and planning resource. 

Port of Akaroa: An Overview
Sailing up the strait into the Port of Akaroa in New Zealand is a not-to-be-missed experience, with green towering hills topped with craggy rock from a long extinct volcano. It reminded us of a smaller version of the Norwegian Fjords -- simply stunning.

Akaroa is a Maori word that means 'long harbour'. The tiny town is a former French settlement that oozes Gallic charm, from its French street names to its pretty painted timber cottages that house an abundance of galleries, local crafts, coffee shops and restaurants.

Home to about 700 locals, Akaroa blossoms to a bustling 1,500 over the summer season.

There is something to suit all the family. Swimming with dolphins, sailing, fabulous nature walks, penguin encounters, motorbike tours and historical walks are just a few of the activities on offer.

If you are not one for tours just enjoy the quaint village, as you can happily explore Akaroa for an hour or so. Once that's done you are free to grab a coffee or glass of local wine, sit back and take in the picture-perfect vista of sparking harbour waters surrounded by green rolling hills.

To Cruise Critic

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