Saturday, January 08, 2011

Arrival in Akaroa

Given the weather I had encountered on the Summit Road, I wasn't expecting to have pleasant conditions for walking when I arrived in Akaroa. But the weather can change quickly on Banks Peninsula. I arrived at the camping ground- so crowded and regimented after the more relaxed camping ground at Okains Bay!- and found that by the time I had set up my tent, the temperature had definitely warmed up. So I headed steeply downhill via the local walkway into the township, (knowing I was going to have to climb all the way back up later...)

I had visited Akaroa once quite a few years before, and remember being enchanted by its village atmosphere, and by finding little surprises from the days of the early French settlers all over the place. But this time I was struck more by the brash tourist nature of the place, and didn't fall in love immediately. (Perhaps last time my first walk was in the quiet of the morning, a better time to quietly appreciate such things.) However, I soon began finding some 'treasures'. There was this old house with some quirky 'sculptures' on the side.
And the Catholic Church, much of it dating back to 1865- very old by New Zealand standards!- was a very peaceful, prayerful oasis of cool and quiet.

I did enjoy seeing the wide range of signs with French names on them all over Akaroa, but this large modern sign outside the petrol station was arguably the most impressive one of all.

There were still many houses that clearly dated back to colonial times.

I was feeling very hot and hungry after a few hours of wandering around the township, but couldn't quite bring myself to eat in a trendy tourist eatery. I was pleased then to find that the 'local' hotel had a family bar and restaurant area, and I had a long cool drink with lots of ice, then ate an excellent meal there.  

And finally, replete after that meal, I had to climb slowly back up the hill to the camping ground- noticing the bland, modern 'gendarmerie' building as I passed. 


  1. I'm enjoying your camping trip, Kiwi. That one-legged hammock swinger is a trifle bizarre!

  2. French in New Zealand? Why? The condensed version will do.

  3. The lady next to her talking on the telephone- that you can't see- was also pretty bizarre Robert. Made a nice change amongst all the 'authentic' French stuff! Andrew- basically there was a boatload of French settlers en route here, who settled in Akaroa, and the Brits only got a Union Jack hoisted days before they arrived... ( I have photos in a post or two..)

  4. Andrew, you do not like "les français"? Isn't it a nice little change to see another culture in an overwhelming English society? Now maybe I am a little biased... Qu'en penses-tu Margaret?

    I have enjoyed reading about your camping trip, and again seeing more of your beautiful country.

    Michèle, Ottawa (ON) Canada (born in Québec, Andrew)

  5. Michèle, I think you are more than a little biased! Andrew is from Australia (Melbourne) so I don't think he was being anti-French, just surprised to hear that we had French settlers here in NZ.
    I have enjoyed reading your friends' blog of their trip here. They have been very active and done things eg the Milford Track, that I have never done!

  6. Here is a good website that explains the origins of French settlement in Akaroa. The Brits were well established in the North Island, but some Frenchmen thought they might annex the South Island for France. They were only just beaten to it by the Brits.

  7. I was teasing Andrew, though I don't know him, I hope he was not insulted. Thank you for the link to the history lesson, interesting. You would think they would have learned their lesson when they bought (read took over) land from the aboriginals here in Canada in the 1600s.

  8. The Brits did the same here Michèle. The bay I was camping in was supposed to be kept as a Maori Reserve when there was a land sale to a Brit land agent, but the Maori people in the area were dispossessed still.