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Akaroa, Maori for Long Harbour, is a town 75km southeast of Christchurch, nestled in an ancient volcano on the Banks Peninsula. We wanted to visit because we’d heard you could swim with the rare Hector’s dolphins. On the bucket list for Lola and Tash, we arranged to stay at Onuku Farm Hostel – a hillside camp – that could take you out on early morning boat trips. The anticipation!

Unfortunately, during our drive from Christchurch, the weather changed from sunshine to mist to drizzle. As a result, the views along the journey, which started out promising, became increasingly non-existent.

Driving through misty Akaroa, we admired the town’s heritage buildings and road signs that show off its 19th-century British and French colonial history. Briefly stopping in the rain to buy bbq food from the local butcher, we soldiered on. Shame the weather wasn’t kinder so we could fully appreciate the town’s beauty, set around a lake.

We checked into our stargazer huts at the hostel – oh yes, stargazer huts! Can you imagine anything more magically sounding?!

The sky cleared a little, tempting us with how stunning it would be if only the clouds would lift fully! Nevertheless, the swirling blankets of mist that wrapped around the mountains made us feel like we were in another world!

We should have been able to see down to the bay from our huts (photo above).

As the evening progressed and the rain became heavier, we had to snuggle up in our huts and pray that cyclone Gita, which was to blame for this weather, would blow over during the night. It rained all night long. There were no stars to be seen through the glass roof of our hut. It got colder and colder. The hut started leaking. This wasn’t going well!

Jake captured Lola and Tash cocooned in their hut – photo below (boys were in one, girl’s the other!). 

Rising early, because we were positively thinking that the dolphin swimming would happen, we were absolutely gutted to learn it was cancelled. The gales and rain were not going to let up; the hillside was becoming muddier and increasingly slippy. With crushing disappointment, we had to abort our plans and quickly vacate the hostel and Akoroa, back to Christchurch to the warmth of a lovely family’s converted garage in their garden! We later learned of the damage created by Gita around Kaikoura and Golden Bay, so thanked our lucky stars we hadn’t been seriously affected. We’d go back to Akoroa and stay in the magical huts again…one day!

As we drove away, we caught glimpses of lush green mounds appearing as if out of nowhere…

And this cow seemed to say, “Thanks for visiting, please come back one day!”