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

Akaroa Travel Guide: 248 reviews and 595 photos

Ah, Akaroa, place of so many great memories from my trip....

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 our 2 days there (the first one sunny, the second not so good).
And now also I've added in the photos from my second visit there, in December 2005. It was great to have more time to enjoy the little township, wander about leisurely and explore a bit more in depth...but I did find that even in the year since I'd been here, some things had changed quite a bit... for example Cafe Eiffel that I just loved so much in the main street is now gone....along with the several feet high model of the Eiffel tower, which I thought added to the main street....so that was a bit of a disappointment...also our backpackers had had some major modifications, not all of them for the better...but that's life, nothing stays the same (and sometimes I wonder if it's worth going back to places where the memories are so strong).

The name 'Akaroa' is said to mean 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 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 landed on these shores.
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.

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.

In these modern times, with a few exceptions, most of the descendants of those early French and German settlers who arrived in Akaroa aboard the ship 'Comte de Paris' in August 1840, have small interest in their European roots.

The feel of the town though, I would have to say, does still have a nice, charming European atmosphere, almost Mediterranean feel, 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.

Much 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: Feb 2004
  • Intro Updated Dec 31, 2005
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Reviews (50)

Comments (13)

  • 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!

  • Jul 11, 2004 at 10:15 PM

    Loved reading about your swim. I have swum with Hectors on 3 trips to NZ. But i have to say, swimming the the Duskies in Kaikoura is a MUST! pricier yes, but 100 times better! 100's of dolphins in one pod!


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