Arguing that the small New Zealand town of Akaroa is comparable to the South of France is a bold statement to make, especially since to many, the South of France is one of the most luxurious vacation destinations in the world.
But I am here to do the unthinkable and make the statement that Akaroa offers everything (and more) that the South of France is famous for.
South of France: The laid back French way of life can be experienced walking along the harbor en route to an espresso and croissant. The cities in the South of France have a quiet and rustic atmosphere that provides a peaceful vacationing experience. Just make sure you have mastered the basics of French language to avoid hostility among the proud Parisians.
Akaroa:It is a common misconception that the British were the first western civilizations to discover New Zealand. In fact, French whalers were the first explores to set up base in Akaroa. And to this day, French influence still remains throughout the streets of this old whaling port. Just like in the South of France, you can take a stroll along the harbour on Rue Laverend and enjoy an espresso and croissant at a water front cafe. And the zen-like atmosphere that is found in the South of France is intensified in Akaroa with the “stress-free” kiwi mindset. And locals are also a lot more forgiving if you haven’t mastered the French language yet
South of France: The rolling hills lined with French villas and sparkling blue waters filled with yachts galore is what makes the South of France so special.
Akaroa: Also boasting a landscape of rolling hills and sparkling blue waters, Akaroa has been dubbed the most scenic place in the Banks Peninsula. And catching the landscape in the early morning makes it even all the more spectacular.
South of France: In addition to beautiful villas and super yachts, the South of France also offers the magic of the Mediterranean ocean–warm water and sandy beaches (except for Nice, which has rocky ones). But with this also comes the risk of most likely having to share this slice of paradise with hundreds of other beach goers.
Akaroa: Okay, so the South of France might win in regards to water temperature, because the water in Akaroa is notoriously cold (perks of being so close to Antartica!). But Akaroa makes up for this with its private beaches. Accessible via a kayak or boat, there are both sandy and rocky beaches that you can enjoy in total seclusion! Added bonus, it is highly likely you will encounter a dolphin or penguin out on the water.
South of France: France is known for its splendid cuisine and superior wines. And in the South of France these delicacies can be enjoyed at the beach clubs. It’s hard to beat a selection of crepes other savories with a glass of proseco to compliment the salty taste of the sea.
Akaroa: The best fish and chip shop offers a top-selection of battered fish, oysters and burgers (and with the best vegetarian burger you can ever have also available) is available to eat on the water front. But Akaroa also offers some fine dining experiences that feel as though you are in France! With a vineyard in the hills, you can enjoy a glass of Sauvignon Blanc in a rustic courtyard that had all the South of France feels.
The annual bike race:
South of France: The Tour de France very well may be the most popular cycling event in the world. And chances are that if you are in the South of France towards the end of June you will get to see the event live!
Akaroa: While it may not be as globally known like the Tour de France, every year Akaroa hosts Le Race, a 100km bike race from Christchurch to Akaroa, with the last 30km being a tough uphill challenge. But to the hundreds of competitors, it is well worth the views and spectator support when crossing the finish line by the water.
South of France: One of the most scenic views on the French coastline is found in Eze, in which the magical contrast of rock and water will take your breath away. One glance from the top of Eze will make it difficult for any other viewpoint to beat.
Akaroa: in my humble opinion, Akaroa offers one of the few points in the world that can compete with Eze. Seemingly untouched by humans or wealth, the birds eye view of is one that will surely make you fall in love with the French-influenced town of Akaroa.