Akaroa voted top cruise port in New Zealand and Australia
Akaroa has been named top cruise destination in New Zealand and Australia in the annual TripAdvisor cruise awards.
Picton rated third behind Sydney, and ahead of Melbourne and Tauranga, based on reviews posted on TripAdvisor's Cruise Critic website.
This year Auckland dropped out of the top five after coming third in 2016.
ChristchurchNZ spokesperson Caroline Blanchfield said the recognition was great for Akaroa, despite the added strain on the village's infrastructure.
About 147,000 passengers visited Canterbury last cruise season, bringing an estimated $57m to the regional economy.
* New cruise $56m cruise ship berth for the Port of Lyttelton
* Ovation of the Seas returns to Auckland's shores
* Akaroa dubbed Tack-aroa after cruise ship boom
* Bigger berths needed to buoy up cruise industry growth
In the coming season Akaroa is scheduled to host visits from 77 cruise ships, sometimes two at a time.
Mid December will be particularly busy with four vessels carrying more than 8500 passengers and crew visiting over two days.
However Akaroa will face competition from the Port of Lyttleton when a new cruise berth opens there in 2019.
Cruise New Zealand chair Debbie Summers said the award reinforced Akaroa as an international cruise destination, and helped put New Zealand grow its cruise business.
Marlborough Tour Company takes many cruise passengers on day excursions to vineyards, private gardens and on cruises of the Sounds and general manager Scott McKenzie said Picton's improved placing was very pleasing.
He said the port's sheltered aspect meant it picked up extra ship visits when the weather was bad and it was also able to handle very large cruise vessels.
"It was nice to pip Auckland last year with Ovation of the Seas being able to dock at Picton whereas it couldn't dock at Auckland."
Lack of port facilities for the super sized cruisers has been a problem with Ovation of the Seas bypassing Canterbury and forced to tender passengers ashore in Auckland.
Income from the cruise sector nationally has doubled over the past five years to be worth an estimated $490 million.
The Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment is planning research into its economic impact of passenger spending in the regions