Nestled in the heart of an ancient volcano, Akaroa is surrounded by beautiful bays and teaming with wildlife. We took a sailing excursion that was skippered by a man originally from New York. He and his young family had sailed around the world, fallen in love with Akaroa, and relocated there a number of years ago. First they opened a B&B, then bought and restored the boat. He was very good at telling us about the surroundings and pointing out the abundant sealife. This bay is home to the largest colony of little penguins on mainland New Zealand (the ones we saw swimming were less than a foot long). The sea lions on shore appeared to be no more than two feet tall; there were also very small dolphins, and some very long-knecked birds.
The surrounding hills are very steep and are, surprisingly, mainly farmland. There are lots of sheep (we learned that there are ten times as many sheep as there are humans in New Zealand) that are herded by specially trained trained dogs. Occasionally a sheep will slide off the hillside onto the rocks below and there is no way to rescue them.