"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: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
Maori people aren't as common to see in the South Island as the North, but if you want to see a little of their... more travel advice
Medium sized mini bus, $20 return (for a 1.5 hour journey each way from Christchurch) which we thought was a rather good... more travel advice
Kate-Me's Related Pages
Akaroa Travel Guide
Member Travel Pages
- "The Magic World of Banks Peninsula and Akaroa"
- "Akaroa: New Zealand's early French settlement"
- "The blissfuly beautiful Banks Peninsula"
- "ATXtraveler goes to Akaroa"
- "Akaroa & Banks Peninsula"
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- Warnings and Dangers in Akaroa
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