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 -- and a cruise ship visit can double that.
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 in 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.