We have just returned from an brief (overnight) visit to Akaroa. It takes just over an hour of travel from Christchurch via Waihora, Lake Forsyth and Little River. We loved the place with it's numerous Catagory 1 historic buildings and various cafe's. Luckily, the village has escaped serious damage from the recent earthquakes largely because most buildings are of wooden construction.
As I always do I headed up for the hills along a walking track that assends directly behind the village on Rue Bulgarie. The trail rises up steep roads that eventually give way to a grassy trail that heads up to a saddle pass over to the next valley. What superb scenery! The run-down farmland has clumps of reverted kanuka and ngaio that create a park-like landscape. I saw rabbit, hares, geese, a hedgehog and a few woolly sheep. There are also healthy numbers of kereru, tui, and bellbirds.
If you were looking for viable farming ventures, forget it. These farms can't even be paying their Council rates and are nothing more than large life style blocks (life sentence more likely). Closer to the village are the remnants of many failed alternative life style ventures, especially protea groves?
It is tourism that provides today's economy at Akaroa. My thoughts were that the Akaroa environs are typical of the wider New Zealand scene. Beautiful scenery and pleasant villages but few signs of viable enterprises.