"Akaroa: New Zealand's early French settlement" Top 5 Page for this destination Akaroa by Kate-Me

Akaroa Travel Guide: 251 reviews and 628 photos

Ah, Akaroa, place of so many great memories from my 5 trips there ....
the latest one, March 2015, was the longest. I got to spend a whole week in this lovely place.

I don't know where to begin to say how lovely this place was, so I'll start at the beginning, but it will be long, I assure you...

Enjoy some photos of the trips there.

It was great to have more time to enjoy the little township, wander about leisurely and explore a lot more in depth...

The name 'Akaroa' means 'long harbour' in the Maori language.
The harbour is indeed long (takes about 1/2 an hour by cabin cruiser/boat from the wharf to the mouth of the river where it meets the sea) and rather attractive, surrounded by rolling hills (that this time were a little dry as they are experiencing some drought conditions) and quite some forest.

The first settlers to the Canterbury area were the Maori, living here relatively peacefully for many centuries before the first Europeans (whalers) landed in the area.
The area was named in honour of Joseph Banks, the botanist, and was originally called Banks Island, as it was only later discovered to be a peninsula.

In August 1838, Jean Francois Langlois, Captain of the Whaling ship Cachalot, 'purchased' Banks Peninsula in what has been referred to in many historical sources as a 'dubious land deal' from the local Maori for the sum of 1000 francs. (Dubious because the Maori had, unknown to them, allegedly already sold the land to the British)

Attempts followed by a cast of a group of several hundred (including millionaire investors, Government supporters, the Catholic Church, and lastly, on board the ship for the actual journey to New Zealand to put it all into place, French sailors, 53 French settlers and also several Germans.

The settlers were to colonise Banks Peninsula as a preliminary step towards the French government's grander plan of possessing the entire South Island of NZ....but during the long sea voyage, unbeknowns to them, the Treaty of Waitangi was signed between the British and the Maori chiefs, effectively putting an end to any future official French plans.

After re-negotiation, and being in a state of limbo in the region for quite some time, the French settlers (mainly peasants) were able to own and stay on their land, and still be a French village in the now officially British ruled land.

Banks Peninsula became the French voice in New Zealand.

Those early French and German settlers arrived in Akaroa aboard the ship 'Comte de Paris' in August 1840.

The feel of the town, though a bit less French in appearance as the years go by (there even used to be a 6' high model of the Eiffel tower in the main street about 10 years ago, but it is long gone). There is more importance now, however, on the annual French Festival, which is now a major South Island event.

I would have to say, the place does still have a nice, charming European atmosphere, almost Mediterranean feel when the sun is shining brilliantly on the rocks down by the smaller of the 2 jetties, and it is the atmosphere and charm of the town most of all that I'd like to share with you all via my photos, tips and travelogues.

Still some more to come...till then, enjoy!

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Beautiful bay, beautiful Hectors dolphins, French style charm
  • Cons:A little remote, winters could be bleak
  • In a nutshell:A beautiful jewel in New Zealand's pacific crown
  • Last visit to Akaroa: Mar 2015
  • Intro Updated Apr 26, 2015
  • Add to Trip Planner (?)
  • Report Abuse

Reviews (51)

Comments (14)

  • jo104's Profile Photo
    Apr 26, 2015 at 5:25 AM

    Some nice tips here are the prices in USD or NZ$?

  • Nov 8, 2010 at 2:38 PM

    Staff handled $ after coughing & went directly to food prep without washing or using gloves. Bare hands in to uncooked fries, prepared burgers all without washing hands or using gloves. It may be cheap but at what cost - you risk catching anything!

  • Aug 3, 2008 at 8:45 AM

    Great tips, thanks for the info. Going there in Nov

  • cnango's Profile Photo
    Apr 17, 2007 at 7:45 PM

    Hi Kate, I only read your very informative Things to do tips. I will be back to read more later. I also enjoyed ur gr8 photos,brought my some memories of a day I spent in beautiful Akaroa 5 yrs ago.

  • Vulindlela's Profile Photo
    Apr 1, 2007 at 9:31 PM

    What an interesting place! Thank you for sharing.

  • TheWanderingCamel's Profile Photo
    Feb 16, 2006 at 8:03 AM

    It's Akaroa this Easter for me this year - thanks for the info and some lovely photos. leyle

  • nipper1's Profile Photo
    Jan 25, 2006 at 7:05 PM

    fantastic location. I like the french car.

  • Jim_Eliason's Profile Photo
    Jul 25, 2005 at 3:45 PM

    great tips!

  • RoyJava's Profile Photo
    Oct 23, 2004 at 3:03 PM

    Great VT Akaroa pages... wonderfull pics and comment. Ancious to visit... greetzzz RoyJava

  • Lekky's Profile Photo
    Oct 13, 2004 at 8:29 PM

    Thanks for your page on Akaroa. I am going to NZ (to Christchurch) for a quick 4 day holiday. I am planning on spending a day in Akaroa and your pictures and words have enticed me!


“Make photos while the sun shines!”

Online Now


Top 1,000 Travel Writer
Member Rank:
0 0 2 8 6

Badges & Stats in Akaroa

  • 51 Reviews
  • 136 Photos
  • 0 Forum posts
  • 12,550PageViews

Have you been to Akaroa?

  Share Your Travels  

Latest Activity in Akaroa

Travel Interests

See All Travel Interests (5)