The small coastal town of Akaroa ("Long Bay Harbour"), at the eastern end of Akaroa Harbour, is 85 km from Christchurch and is known as the French colony of New Zealand.
Very little remains of the history linked to the early settlers that arrived here in 1838 – a few buildings and, in particular, the names of the streets – but Akaroa, as you will discover during your MSC World Cruise, is a charming coastal town that you can easily visit on foot.
A favourite holidays destination for New Zealanders, it is a good starting point for visiting the surrounding area, either with a walk along the Banks Peninsula Track or on a boat trip around the Bay to see dolphins.
If you prefer to stay in town, Akaroa has a wide variety of shops and restaurants. The Akaroa Museum is opposite the Visitor Centre, where you can enjoy exhibitions dedicated to Maori craftsmanship, a twenty-minute film on the history of the settlement, photographs of the early settlers and objects associated with the whaling industry. The building that houses the Museum is also interesting because you can see the former Court House, a small Custom House and a residential building dating back to the 1840s.
There is also a small French cemetery north of the town, which can be reached by a path leading off Rue Pompallier.
You can independently visit The Giant's House, home of sculptor Josie Martin, which from the moment you enter the garden is an explosion of colours between sculptures, mosaics and paintings.
Another interesting place is the former hydroelectric Powerhouse, built in 1911, which once provided electricity to the town. The building still contains its original machinery, although it is now dedicated to concerts and local art exhibitions.
Other MSC day trips include a ride on the Tranzalpine Train to the Arthur Pass or a visit to a local farm.