"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: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
One of my favourite things in Akaroa is seeing flocks of Canada Geese walking around on the beach at low tide. I... more travel advice
Many cruise ships now call in at Akaroa in the Summer and Autumn. Princess Cruises is one line that calls in. 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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