When my brother came to visit we decided we would show him Banks Peninsula and Akaroa on the day he flew out. The drive is a gorgeous road that winds its way up the Banks Peninsula hills. You will find yourself travelling a thrilling 20-30km/hr as you head over the hill due to the sharp bends and turns, but as you travel higher and higher up the views make the drive totally worth it. While I am not sure I could permanently live along this road it is a gorgeous drive and you are able to look out over the beautiful vistas of the gorge as you head towards all the little bays that make up the Banks Peninsula.
The road we took, the Christchurch Akaroa Highway, winds you past Lake Ellesmere before you head up the ranges. This lake is one of the most controlled lakes in Canterbury. The lake sits just behind a spit and due to the medium shingles that separate the lake from the open ocean it often has to be dug out to allow the lake to drain into the open sea. This is quite an endeavor that requires lots of diggers and approval from multiple stakeholders. The road will then slowly begin to head you up the Banks Peninsula Hills.
The first bay you will come to is Barrys Bay. It is a very still bay that is protected and encapsulated by the Banks Peninsula hills. There is space to pull off the road and have a picnic on a sunny day and a small town to have a look around in. Barrys Bay has a famous cheese shop which is a great place to stop if you have some spare time, or get the mid morning or mid-afternoon munchies.
The second bay is Duvauchelle Bay, which I have absolutely no idea how to pronounce. This is just a small bay and there is not a lot of room to pull over to have a look. It is a small town with not too much happening. It is good for one or two photos but not much else.
The next bay is Robinsons Bay. I like Robinsons Bay for the wharf that juts out from an access track off the main road. There is an area to park a car and boat, but not a lot of space for multiple vehicles. You can drive from this area down a small bumpy, mainly one way road, to the wharf. The wharf is composed of old railways tracks and sleepers and ends in a wharf that you can fish off. It is amazing for some photos, especially in good weather.
The last bay before Akaroa, is Takamatua Bay. This bay has a lot more going on and you can get some amazing photos when the tide is out, as it exposes quite a large part of the otherwise generally very still bay. There are places to pull off and take photos and would be a good place to stop briefly. I do suggest spending most of your day in Akaroa, as there are a lot of shops and things to see and do. Unfortunately this time around I did not get any photos of this cosy little bay.