"An ancient volcano" Top 5 Page for this destination Akaroa Things to Do Tip by TheWanderingCamel
Akaroa Things to Do: 93 reviews and 230 photos
The hilly and rugged nature of the Banks Peninsula is in complete contrast to the flatness of the Canterbuty Plain you have left behind you as you've driven here. So what formed these beautiful bays, dramatic hills and deep harbours that are different from the rest of this region of New Zealand?
The answer is two ancient volcanoes.
One - the Lyttelton volcano - first eruptied 15 million years ago or so but the outer Akaroa volcano is much younger - the most recent eruptions there happened less than six million years ago. At that time the volcanoes were seperated from the mainland but the forces of glacial erosion from the still evolving Southern Alps created the Canterbury Plain and eventually joined the volcanoes to the mainland over several ice ages. The sea level rose, the volcanoes eroded and the Pacific Ocean flooded into the craters, forming the harbours of Lyttelton and Akaroa, the principal settlements on the Peninsula. These harbours are considered to be among the world?s best examples of eroded and flooded craters. Enlarge the map here and you will see the contours of the volcanos and the craters very clearly.
Whilst the Peninsula is within easy day-trip distance from Christchurch (and it attracts lots of day-trippers) its volcanic nature makes it a wonderfully varied place to explore. There are hundreds of kilometres of road here - some good and well sealed, some unsealed, narrow and rather precipitous. There are several little settlements with campgrounds, B&Bs and backpackers for those who wish to get away from the main (and very popular) towns of Lyttleton and Akaroa. Lyttleton is only a 15 minute drive from Christchurch but Akaroa, with its quaint French connection, is very pretty and makes a great base for a more thorough exploration of the Peninsula.
Directions: Christchurch to Lyttleton - Take the 28 or 30 bus from the bus exchange
Akaroa Shuttle leaves from Christchurch Visitors Centre at 8.30am and 2pm daily with an option of a Summit Road tour giving great views of the harbour and the Outer Bays
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