The top free things to do in Banks Peninsula are listed right here.
No one gets through a holiday richer than they were before. Here’s the dilemma; you have time off work and want some quality time with your family. Well, look no further than Banks Peninsula.
The place is brimming with things to do, and many of them are free activities. All you’re going to need is to pack some snacks for the roadie and you’re set to go….
Honestly, there must be a thousand places to walk on Banks Peninsula. It doesn’t matter what level of fitness or experience you’re at, there’s a walk for you!
The Children’s Bay Rhino Walk is a fun one in Akaroa. It’s perfect for families, with a few special surprises along the way (look out for the giraffes and giant rhino).
Walking up Stanley park can be steep, but it’s nice and short with a stunning view over Akaroa’s township and beyond. Plus you’ll pass some grazing sheep, and who doesn’t want to see that! Bring some food up here and have a picnic.
If Akaroa is too far, walk up to the PackHorse Hut from Gebbies Pass and have some lunch there.
The quaint hut sits in a small valley with absolutely stunning views all around. This one is a little bit steeper but still achievable within a couple of hours, and a great daywalk. Book the hut on the doc site here.
There’s also the Godley Head walk in Christchurch with the old gun emplacements at the end.
On a good day, the walk will give you sparkling oceans, classic NZ bush, and views over both Lyttleton and Sumner along the way.
Iconic Landmarks and historic sites
Last I checked, looking at beautiful cultural landmarks and sites was a completely free but rewarding way to spend part of your day. Banks Peninsula is full of great sites. Maybe you’ll see a good photo opportunity and finally be able to change your Facebook profile picture from six years ago.
Check out the iconic Akaroa lighthouse. From there, it’s not far to the Catholic and Anglican Cemeteries on the hill above. They are full of beautiful headstones of marble, and many are still endowed with new flowers.
Visit the Onuku Marae. The local Iwi does a fantastic job with the maintenance of the building and surrounding area. They invite all to share in their heritage and experience their culture.
In the small, hidden town of Birdlings Flat, there’s a really cool gemstone and fossil museum that’s totally free! Located next to Canterbury’s largest lake, the small town is known for gemstone hunting and they’ve built a really impressive collection over the years.
There are also plenty of beautiful natural landmarks in Banks Peninsula, like Newton’s Waterfall. It’s just 7 minutes away from Akaroa centre. I find the waterfall provides the perfect snapshot of New Zealand before humans arrived; it’s honestly very refreshing.
Experience the local food
I know what you’re thinking, “food costs money, what kind of blog is this?” Well, there are few ways to taste amazing food whilst maintaining the option of walking away as rich as before. It’ll be a challenge, but you might be able to pull it off…..
Pot Pourri is a general store nestled in the heart of Akaroa’s township. They also happen to have an amazing selection of homemade fudge. They’re always willing to part with two or three free samples, but I have yet to walk out of the store without a slice of fudge in tow.
On the way to Akaroa, in Barry’s Bay, is a cheese factory aptly called ‘Barry’s Bay Cheese’. They make a huge variety of top-quality cheese. They ship to cheese-lovers all over Canterbury and beyond. Anyone can pop into the shop in the front and try a few cubes of cheese, and learn more about the rich history of local cheese-making.
Lyttelton also has plenty for you, if you’re looking for something closer to home. Every Saturday from 10-1, the main street comes alive with stalls of fresh fruit and vegetables, free-range eggs, bread, meat, fish, cheese, juices, herbs, and plants to name a few. This is one of the best farmers’ markets around, set in the backdrop of the surrounding mountains and harbour. I’m sure you can find a free sample or two along the way.
Adventures with nature!
The final idea we have for you is to use the forces of nature to your advantage.
For as long as humans have lived in New Zealand, we’ve used the ocean and gravity in a variety of ways to create thrills.
Here are some ways you can do this for free:
Go surfing or boogie boarding in one of the many beaches or bays of Banks Peninsula. Taylor’s mistake near Sumner, or Hickory Bay an hour out of Christchurch are standout spots. Don’t own a board? Go body surfing instead. It’s a lot of fun in its own right, simply swim with a wave and let the energy carry you to the shore.
If you own a mountain bike, explore one of the many tracks at a level suited to you and your family. Haven Mountain bike park is just 30 minutes from Christchurch in the beautiful Banks Peninsula. These guys are passionate about pest control and restoration and it shows in the park’s stunning views. In the hills above Akaroa are the trails of Akatrax park. Their website has a detailed map with trails ranging from a wee beginner to an advanced veteran.
By the beach
Ever jumped off a wharf before? Either you have and need no more convincing, or you haven’t and this is the sign to do it this summer! Akaroa has a couple of wharves that are perfect. I’d recommend the one right by the beach, as it’s not too high and you can chill on the sand after your adventures. If you’re feeling brave though, there’s always the much higher main wharf you can send it from. Just take care where you jump, and assess the conditions first.
A personal favorite thing to do in Akaroa though is crab spotting! Along Akaroa, where the water meets rocks a little bigger than your fist, are thousands of little crabs. Walk along, lift the rocks, and watch the crabs scuttle away. I’ve been crab spotting in Akaroa for as long as I can remember. The trick to picking them up is to avoid the claws by picking them up from behind! Be sure to be gentle with the crabs and put them down in the water after a few seconds.
Kids Cruise Free In Akaroa
And this school holiday 2 kids cruise free (valued at $40 each) with 1 full price adult ($95). This saves at least $80 per family. Simply enter the code ‘FREEKIDS’ at the checkout between now and the end of the April school holiday (Sunday May1st), and your children’s rate will be $0!
We still offer free spaces to under 5’s and our Hector’s dolphin guarantee, so there’s no better time to get out and Do Something Autumn! Find out more here.
See you guys somewhere on Banks Peninsula!
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words by Josh Bingham