State Highway 75 leads from Christchurch out onto the peninsula, curving along the southern portion past Lake Ellesmere. There are interesting stops on your way out to Akaroa. The small town of Little River used to be the end of the line for a now-defunct railway line from Christchurch; the route is now a walkway and bicycle trail. The old, wooden train station houses a crafts gallery and information office, and a café is next door in the grocery store. Pick up the Peninsula Pioneers brochure of the area, which details the Heritage drive from Little River to Akaroa. When you reach Hilltop, pause for your first glimpse of Akaroa Harbour; on a sunny day it's magnificent. (At Hilltop the highway crosses the Summit Road, the other major route through the peninsula.)
Barry's Bay Cheese Factory. And if you're hungry after the drive over the hill, swing by Barry's Bay Cheese Factory and taste the local product, one of Akaroa's earliest exports; they've been
making cheese since 1895. It's only made every second day and if you're there before about 2 in the cheese making season (Oct.–May), you can watch the day's cheese being manufactured. They also sell local wines, preserves, honeys, and gifts. 5807 Christchurch Akaroa Rd., Akaroa, 7582. 03/304–5809. www.barrysbaycheese.co.nz. Daily 9–5.