Okains Bay is where time has stopped and is full of places of historic interest to visit and explore. Being part of Banks Peninsula, there are plenty of other interesting places to explore or activities to try within an hour or so. Here is a list of possible places of interest within Okains Bay and the surrounding area.
Click on the headings to expand each section and read about that activity.


Okains Bay Maori and Colonial Musuem

Probably one of the most famous places to visit within the bay is the Okains Bay Maori and Colonial Museum. Started as the private collection of a local, Murray Thacker it offers a wide range of items including over 3000 Maori items as well as Colonial items from days gone by. A Blacksmith's smithy, Colonial Cottage and a Printing Shop are also highlights of this amazing Museum. One of the highlights of the Museum is the Whakaata (meeting house) while across the road from the Museum is the Waka shed which features two large waka (war canoes) Many smaller waka are also on display. Just down the road are the Library and the original Schoolhouse (School) looking just as it was when opened in 1872s.

Okains Bay Store

In the middle of the village is the Okains Bay Store, the longest continually operating store in New Zealand. Opened in 1873, it still serves the needs of the local community. Drop in for an ice cream, souvenir or those forgotten items. It also supplies petrol and diesel from outside an original 1800s Cocksfoot grass cleaning shed.

Little Okains Walk

Just twenty minutes walk from the Camping Ground is Little Okains Bay, a very important part of the history of Ngai Tahu and Maori settlement of Banks Peninsula. Enjoy stunning sights and the sound of bellbirds and other native birds as you wend your way over to this idyllic spot where you are more than likely to have the beach to yourself! Explore the nearby caves or play on the beach. Ideal for a family game of cricket, etc

Millenium Bridge

There are plenty of great opportunities for walking around the village. Walk up the main road, taking in the historic precinct and old buildings that are just as they were in the late 1800s and then cross the Millennium Bridge to return on the opposite side of the river, taking in all the native wildlife as you go.

Big Hill - photo ops

You can get some great shots of Okains Bay and the whole valley up the Big Hill Road which is just off the main road before the entrance to the Camping Ground. Please note, the road is quite steep and narrow at the start and is not really suitable for campervans. It is an easy 10 minute walk which will reward you with some wonderful views.

St Luke's Church, Little Akaloa

St Lukes Anglican Church at Little Akaloa was built in 1906 to replace the 1874 church which was destroyed by fire after early use as a school.
Chief benefactor John Menzies, a lay reader, not only donated much of the money for the new church, he did much of the construction and decorative work. Menzies' designs, using Maori motifs, are a feature of the church. This church is often used for weddings and cannot be recommended highly enough for a visit while you are in the area.
Take the Little Akaloa/Chorlton Road just up to the right from the camping ground. The drive througth to LIttle Akaloa offers great scenery and lots to see as well as being a great alternative route if you are heading back to Christchurch. About 30 minutes travel time to Little Akaloa.

Barry's Bay Cheese Factory

Banks Peninsula was one of the first areas in New Zealand to commercially produce and export cheese and by the late 1890’s, there were at least 9 cheese factories producing butter, cheddar and other cheeses including Okains Bay. Today Barry's Bay Cheese is the only one that remains. Along with the cheeses, they offer a wide range of wines, local preserves, honeys, oils, antipasto items and gifts to compliment our cheeses. The Cheese and Wine Shop is open 7 days 9a.m to 5p.m. During cheese making season between the months of October to May you can view cheese making every second day through the gallery window in the shop. Well worth a visit while staying on the Peninsula.
More info
here

Eastern Bays Scenic Mail Run

The best way to see the area and find out a little of the history and fauna and flora of this area is to take the Eastern Bays Scenic Mail Run with your tour guide Robin, a former Conservation Ranger with over 20 years local experience who gives an interesting commentary on the Peninsula’s natural and social history. Experience the magnificent natural beauty and isolation of the Eastern bays, valleys and coastline. Travel 120km, weaving in and out of 10 bays from sea level to the crater rim delivering mail to farms and settlements. The Mail run operates 6 days a week (Mon- Sat) and takes four and a half hours travelling amongst some of the most stunning scenery you’ll ever see! The tour includes a beachfront homemade morning tea, a visit to an historic Church and a short walk on beautiful Le Bons Bay beach. Plenty of photo opportunities and comfort stops. 9am departure from Akaroa. Tours operate all year round. Check out more here

Akaroa Village

Enjoy this little taste of France in this historic French town. Plenty of shops to explore, cafes, galleries, a great museums, boating trips of all kinds, swim with the dolphins, an original lighthouse from the Akaroa Harbour heads right on the foreshore - Akaroa has it all. Plan to spend at least half a day in Akaroa.
Looking for somewhere for a meal in Akaroa? - check out some of the dining here

Ellangowan Scenic Reserve

Turn left at the top of the road out of Okains Bay onto the Summit Road. Travel for some time until you come to the Hickory Bay Road and travel 1 km to the signposted car-park.
From here walk down the road for 5 minutes to pick up the start of the track.
The start of the track is marked with a DOC green and gold post. The track climbs to the ridge and then along to a rocky outlook on a 12-metre bluff near the centre of the reserve. It then drops down to meet with Hickory Bay Road, with a short walk back to the beginning.
This reserve is the north-eastern limit of beech trees on Banks Peninsula. There is an excellent contrast between wetter and drier faces, and many of the rocky bluffs are home for a variety of interesting herbs.

Montgomery Park Scenic Reserve Walk

An outstanding feature of this reserve is a huge forked lowland tōtara which may be 2,000 years old and measures 8.5 metres around its trunk.
The tōtara can be reached after a few minutes walk into the bush which also features tōtara, mataī and fuschia/kōtukutuku. The track winds up steadily through forest and then north through open grasslands and regenerating bush. Good views are possible from this section of track. The track then turns and climbs steeply up a gap in the bluffs, over boulders. It reaches open tussock tops before eventually climbing onto “Rocky Peak”, with views of the peninsula and Akaroa Harbour. Montgomery Track links up with the longer Summit Road Walkway Track.
Time: 10 min return to tōtara tree, 2 hr return to Rocky Peak
Turn left at the top of the road out of Okains Bay and head along the Summit Road to a small area at the side of the road where you can park.

Nikau Palm Gully Scenic Reserve Walk

Travel to Akaroa and then follow the Kaik Road 4 km to the road end at the front gate of a private farm hostel. Follow a farm track from the hostel for about 1 hour 30 minutes, winding in and out of several headlands. The scenic reserve is sign-posted with a cut track and staircase leading into the gully in the creek bed. Travel down the boulder bed of the creek to the waterfall with fine views along the sea-cliff faces. The size and number of nīkau palms is one of the best coastal forest remnants in Canterbury.
Time: 4 - 6 hr return Note: Closed for lambing August - October
Crosses private land to reach Nīkau Palm Gully, so obtain permission to cross. Ring beforehand. Contact Jeff Hamilton, Onuku Farm Hostel, phone (03) 304 7066 .

Tutakakahikura Scenic Reserve

Tutakakahikura Scenic Reserve is a narrow stand of remnant red beech/tawairaunui forest, in a steep gully. Red beech has a very limited distribution on Banks Peninsula, making this small reserve a significant regional feature.
Travel to Akaroa and then take the Akaroa Lighthouse Road for about 7 km. Turn left onto Flea Bay Road - the reserve is signposted about 1 km from the turn-off. These roads are steep, narrow, gravel roads suitable for 4 wheel-drive vehicles.
Time: 1 hr

Black Cat Cruises

Cruise around an extinct volcanic crater and experience majestic scenery and stunning wildlife on daily harbour cruises with Black Cat Cruises. See the rare NZ native dolphin - the Hector's Dolphin, as well as penguins and other sea birds. You'll catch glimpses of the White Flippered Blue Penguin, the smallest penguin in the world and there are many different bird species in the harbour, including five different cormorant (shag) species and the endangered yellow-eyed penguin. You'll see giant volcanic sea cliffs and hear about Akaroa's fascinating past. If you are very lucky, you may see Hector's dolphins with their calves which can be seen between October and March The tour also stops at Lucas Bay to look at a salmon farm where thousands of salmon from fingerlings to adult fish are farmed in a series of cages.
Cruises depart every day, weather permitting.
More info here

Sail on the Fox II

Sail with the dolphins in the crater of an extinct volcano on New Zealand’s oldest gaffed rigged ketch Fox II and enjoy the wildlife of Akaroa Harbour up close. Relax and soak up the sun, sea and hills or take part as one of the crew. See Hectors dolphins, yellow-eyed and blue penguins, New Zealand fur seals, albatross and other sea birds. Be surrounded by giant volcanic sea cliffs, caves and rock formations along the journey. A guaranteed highlight of your trip that you will remember for the rest of your life.
 See ALL the wildlife of Akaroa Harbour  Crew or just relax  Learn about local history  Tour the harbour the eco-friendly way  Enjoy real Pacific Ocean sailing (not just Akaroa Harbour)
Find out more
here

A Class Sailing

Based in Akaroa, they offer a two and a half hour fun and information filled cruise twice daily in the 47' classic vintage yacht Manutara, a design with four Sydney/Hobart race wins to its credit. An unforgettable "hands on" sailing experience as you take the helm or "hoist the sails". See the rare Hector's dolphins, the white flippered penguins, seals and variety of sea birds up close in their natural habitat. Find out more here

Jet Boating in the harbour

If you are looking for something more adventurous, try an unforgettable jet boating experience on the 20 seat, Twin V8, 600 Horsepower "PHAT TIME" . This 7.5 metre Cobra jet is the latest design, combining power and speed with built in comfort and exceptional safety features operating from October to April. Check it out here

Akaroa Information Centre

Looking for other things to do? The Akaroa Information Centre in the old Post Office in Akaroa may be able to help you with further ideas of things to do while in Okains Bay. Contact them here