Akaroa Things to Do Tips by Kakapo2 Top 5 Page for this destination
Akaroa Things to Do: 91 reviews and 219 photos
Akaroa's War Memorial near the Visitor Centre.
There are larger war memorials in New Zealand, and higher ones, and, of course, also more important ones. But you will not find a lot of more beautiful ones and in a lovlier setting than the one in Akaroa.
The foundation stone was laid on 31 March 1922 on the site of the former Akaroa Borough School, and it was unveiled on 12 March 1924.
The memorial is a Gothic pavillion, designed by H. St. A. Murray. You can see it from afar as it is crowned by an obelisk-like kind of spire which has a cross at the top.
On several panels you find the names of the men from Banks Peninsula who died in the South African War and First World War; the names of those who fell in World War II were later added.
A beautiful garden surrounds the memorial, sheltered by a high hedge, with lots of roses on the manicured lawn and four spectacular established palm trees.
The location is beside the Visitor Centre in Rue Lavaud.
Update November 2012
The War Memorial has been slightly damaged in the earthquakes. It is fenced off but you can still sit on the lawn and seats of the garden that surrounds it.
The library reminds of King George's V coronation.
That’s a truly lovely building you cannot miss, located at the end of the beach and the start of the promenade (103 Rue Jolie), just across the street from the bakery.
However, the Coronation Library is not really in use anymore after a combined school and public library has opened next to the school at the corner of Rue Jolie and Selwyn Avenue, just further down Rue Jolie, and then to the right.
The Coronation Library building opened on 22 May 1875. It got its new frontage in 1911, giving it an Arts and Crafts/English Domestic Revival look – well, I read this detailed description on the Civic Trust website ;-)
The Library was erected to house the Literacy Institute that had formed in 1863. With the renovation in 1911 also came the name change into Akaroa Coronation Library, referring to the coronation of King George V.
This building has also been closed after the earthquakes, like so many other buildings that were not badly damaged but considered unsafe because their strength is significantly under the new building code. Be assured, the Coronation Library is as beautiful as ever from the outside - and you will have a look at it one hundred per cent!
Un musée très intéressant... ;-)
Akaroa's Museum has been considered unsafe quite a while after the earthquakes and is now closed. The collections are in a safe place until its reopening.
“Musée très intéressant”, they write on their sign on the footpath. Ok, the accent on the “très” is the wrong way round, d’aigu instead of grave, but the French is close to perfect. And as it is just funny, it does not matter – as they also claim that Akaroa’s small museum is better than Te Papa. This probably explains why you have to pay a NZ$ 4 entry fee, and Te Papa is free ;-)
The Akaroa Museum focuses particularly on the history of Akaroa and Banks Peninsula. They show a 20 min film on Akaroa's history. Exhibitions are changing. Museum shop.
The Langlois-Etéveneaux House, one of the oldest in the South Island, the Court House, and the Custom House (1852) at Daly Wharf are also part of the museum.
• Summer (Nov - April): 10.30am - 4.30pm
• Winter (May - Oct): 10.30am - 4pm
• Adults $ 4, children $ 1.
Address: 71 Rue Lavaud; P.O. Box 35, Akaroa 8161
Other Contact: Email 2: firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone: and Fax: (03) 304 1013
A sad reminder of the good old days in Duvauchelle
Update May 2011 - Update Nov. 2012
The Duvauchelle Hotel was badly damaged in the earthquake that rocked Canterbury on 4 September 2010. Parts of it have been demolished just now. They will rebuild and hope to be up and running again by Christmas.
... which was a nice dream. Another Christmas is looming and there is no sign of any building activity.
The Duvauchelle Hotel at the northern tip of Akaroa Harbour, right on SH 75, about 10 km from Akaroa, is said to be the oldest one in the country.
The hotel is named after the settlement, and the settlement was named by two French brothers named Duvauchelle in 1840, after the arrival of the French ship “Comte de Paris”.
The hotel was built by François Lelièvre at some time before 1850. It had frequently changing names, starting as the “Travellers Rest”, and later (among many other names) “The Somerset”, “Hotel des Pêcheurs”, etc. In 1971 the then publican named it “Robbers Return” as the guests were always complaining he was robbing them.
The family of the owner who ran the hotel from 1861 to 1874 (Ben Shadbolt) are still running the farm across the road.
In the hotel flyer I read a funny detail about what publicans had to sign to get a license. For example, to supply accommodation, water and oats for at least two horses, to be sworn in and act as constable, and to keep a safe boat to ferry passengers to Akaroa. Try to get one of those flyers in the hotel, they contain a lot of interesting historic photos and information. The website (www.duvauchellehotel.co.nz) does not work at the moment (end May 2008), the account has been closed – perhaps they have not paid their fees… ;-) But I can assure you, the hotel and pub are open ;-)
You cannot miss the hotel. It is right on SH 75, on the right side if coming from Christchurch. A huge kiwi (bird) sculpture with a chef’s hat on the head is in front of the verandah.
You get several kinds of accommodation at this hotel. First of all they have ten fully self-contained motel units (with kitchenettes) off the street, with panoramic views of the bay.
Across the street are backpackers units ($ 25 pp) for which you get the key at the hotel.
The hotel has a main bar, lounge bar and huge garden bar plus a separate restaurant for private functions. They also have tables and benches on the verandah. When we sat there in the sunshine we were entertained by fantails chasing insects under the roof.
The interior is really fantastic, reminding of the early days of the pioneers.
They advertise to have the finest and biggest meals on the peninsula (see on photo 2). The latter might be true, but I have problems to agree on “finest”. My husband’s wedges were really dark and not crisp, and my creamy bacon pasta contained cream and pasta, and probably also bacon but that tasted more like ham. The onions were more boiled than glazed and swam in the liquid cream, and unfortunately also in sugar. Either they had used sugar instead of salt, so it could have been an accident. If I want to eat something as sweet as this I normally order a cake or icecream… The service though, was very friendly, and we enjoyed our drinks and the nice atmosphere. Perhaps we should stick to Akaroa salmon and T-Bone Steak with prawns – but we wanted something simple for lunch and not a full meal.
On photo 2 you can see the food.
Address: Duvauchelle Hotel, SH 75, Duvauchelle, Banks Pen.
Other Contact: email@example.com
Phone: (03) 304 5803
Detail of the Visitor Centre.
Update Nov. 2012
Nearly two years after the first big earthquake the Christchurch city council's engineers have found out that the old post office building is unsafe, therefore it was closed - and with it the visitor centre. This has been temporarily relocated to 120 Rue Jolie (corner with Selwyn Ave). It is easy to find. Rue Lavaud (which is the main road coming into Akaroa) becomes Rue Jolie at the point where you would turn right into the promenade (which is one-way traffic in the opposite direction anyway).
Almost certainly you will have a look at Akaroa’s former Post Office as it is now home to the Visitor Centre. It is located in 78 Rue Lavaud, the main street, opposite the (no more striking...) Langlois-Etéveneaux House, Akaroa’s oldest private home, and the Bank of New Zealand building.
The first post office was built at the site of the present building in 1856. It was a single-storey wooden building. It was replaced by the present building in 1915. Like the Coronation Library, it was influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement. This is a rarity for post offices built in this era, as those were mostly in the much more dominant Edwardian style. This one blends much better into Akaroa’s architecture.
It ceased serving as a post office in 1993 when it was sold by NZ Post. After that it has housed the Council Service Centre and the information centre.
The “Place de la Poste” named little square beside the building reminds of the original purpose – just where the Charles Meryon statue is standing.
You can book all kinds of activities at the Information Centre if you do not want to do it beforehand on the internet. In the peak season it is well advisable to book in advance, as Akaroa can be very crowded, and some activities (swimming with dolphins, penguin watching) do not accommodate big groups.
Daily 9am - 5pm
Address: 120 Rue Jolie, Akaroa (temporarily)
Other Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone: (03) 304 8600
The Duvauchelle Backpackers Motel.
As mentioned in a general tip about the French street signs in Akaroa, the worst thing about Duvauchelle is the pronounciation. If you pronounce it correctly in French nobody understands you, so just say “Du-wot-shelley”, with the stress on the second syllable, if you want locals to know that you are talking about their place. (Ah, and many also love to add an –s at the end, so you get “Duvauchelles”… or: “Du-wot-shelleys”. Just be prepared for the worst case LOL)
Adding to the linguistic torture is the fact that the two French brothers the tiny township is named after never took residence. They bought the land from the Nanto-Bordelaise Society but somehow never made it to the place. Instead, they settled in Akaroa.
Duvauchelle is the perfect starting point to explore Onawe Peninsula, this thinnish piece of land reaching far out into Akaroa Harbour, separating the head of the harbour into Barrys Bay on one and Duvauchelle and Robinsons Bay on the other side (permit needed; info in Onawe tip). And it is only a short drive to French Farm which is well-known for its good food and wine. Since the Duvauchelle Store & Bistro has reopened it is highly praised for its fantastic food.
(Update 8 August 2008: At the moment the Bistro is only open on Thu, Fri and Sat nights, and Sun + Mon from 10am to 5pm. Phone 03 - 304 5807)
A good choice of accommodation, with the Duvauchelle Hotel being the biggest provider, offering hotel, motels, and backpacker accommodation. There is also a campground, the Duvauchelle Reserve Motor Camp (Seafield Road, phone 03 304-5777), as well as some holiday homes. Check here: http://www.holidayhouses.co.nz/Duvauchelle.asp
Update May 2011
The Duvauchelle Hotel has been badly damaged in the earthquake on 4 September 2010. It has been now partly demolished. The publican says they hope they will be up and running again by Christmas 2011.
Beige, bland, boring... Sad new look.
Here you see what they have done to the wonderful Langlois-Etéveneaux House in Akaroa. It did not make me cry but speechless.
The "light buff colour", as they call it, has transformed the splendid colonial cottage into a "no-one looks at it anymore" place. I stood on the footpath and apart from me nobody seemed to look at it. My husband had even walked past without turning his head although I had told him earlier that I was excited to see the result of making the house look like in the very early days. He had just not noticed it, and believe me, he knows Akaroa. Before the building had been a show-stopper, or better: crowd-stopper. The contrast of the green paint with the red bricks and the pinkish roses at the white fence was so perfect. Now it is bland, bland, bland, and all the beauty is gone.
Still I am able to admit that the house might now look like the original. But I hate it :-)
If you have not read my original tip about the Langlois-Etéveneaux House, here once more the explanation for the transformation: In a microscopic study of the lowest of 13 layers that coated the house it was found out that this layer was the crappy colour you see now...
Directions: Corner of Rue Lavaud and Rue Balguerie, opposite Visitor Centre and Bank of New Zealand.
The nice colour is a thing of the past.
You will not see Akaroa’s oldest house as beautiful as it looks on this photo. When I was there some months ago it was stripped down. And the people who have done this really seem to be called strippers LOL Anyway. A scaffolding was erected around the building, and those strippers wore blue overalls and prepared the house on the main street (Rue Lavaud) for a new coat of paint. Unfortunately this was not the wonderful greens which made it stand out but in a light buff colour – which means: as bland and impersonal as all those beige and cream and white interiors of modern homes for sale… (See the result in my next tip...)
Also unfortunately the reason for the change of colour is sincere and even understandable although I do not like the idea at all. In a microscopic study of the lowest of 13 layers that coated the house it was found out that this layer was this crappy colour.
Sure, in other cases where a modernisation annoys me I would say restoring a building to its original look is always the best thing you can do. As I absolutely loved the greens of the Langlois-Etéveneaux House I am no more sure about it LOL What if already the first owner applied the second layer? And anyway, the first owner perhaps had no other choice because they had only taken one kind of paint with them from France or Germany and would always have loved to have a green house? LOL
You see why my husband sometimes says it is hard to please me ;-)
It is not sure but very probable that Langlois-Etéveneaux House – sorry: la Maison Langlois-Etéveneaux – is the oldest surviving house of Canterbury. It was most likely built in 1841 as the ship Comte de Paris with the French and German settlers arrived in Akaroa in 1840, and the first owner, Aimable Langlois, went back to France in 1842. After Langlois’ death Jean-Pierre Etéveneaux bought the cottage in 1858. So that is where the double-name comes from.
Long time it was believed that the house was prefabricated in France but now it seems to be clear that this is not possible because native New Zealand timbers were used in the construction. The shape of the roof and a few other features are similar to that of other cottages of the same period. It is now thought that the French look – including the louvred shutters and elegant fanlights – came up later when Jean-Pierre Etéveneaux’s son, Jean-Baptiste, made alterations.
After that far more changes and additions were made. But in 1963 and ’64 most of these additions were removed and the cottage returned to its original size (two rooms) and furnished with French furniture. All this makes this house clearly Akaroa’s most important reminder of its French origins.
Most other cottages are neither purely French nor purely English but a blend of French, German and English styles that have become a unique New Zealand style.
The house is part of Akaroa’s museum next door (as is the old Customs House) but you cannot go inside – only look through the windows.
Address: 71 Rue Lavaud
Directions: At the corner of Rue Lavaud and Rue Balguerie, opposite the Visitor Centre and the Bank of New Zealand. If you come from Christchurch it is on the left side of the street.
A wonderful place: Greens Point with the memorial.
The Union Jack was hoisted here, 11 August 1840 – and it is still blowing in the wind beside the memorial obelisk at Greens Point. (Well, most probably not the original flag although it is slightly damaged on the edges.) The memorial was erected in 1898 to mark the diamond jubilee of Queen Victoria.
The British ship, Britomart, harboured here just six days before the arrival of the French settlers. The Captain who raised the flag was Owen Stanley.
The inscription on the memorial plaque says the raising of the flag demonstrated British sovereignty to the people on Banks Peninsula and the French Corvette L’Aube which arrived on 17 August.
The site of the obelisk is wonderful, so peaceful and quiet. You can drive there but the nicest way is to walk. It is just a 20 min walk from the Town Wharf, past the lighthouse which is about half-way. Some steep stairs lead up from the road to a lawn which sits high above the cliffs like a deck, surrounded by a small pocket of bush on the hill side, and some cabbage trees, flax and toetoe on the sea side.
When we were there yesterday it was so beautiful, with the turquoise blue harbour below and the sun shining from a cloudless sky, and mild temperatures, and a busy bellbird chatting with me… We sat down, relaxed, read the newspaper, and only two or three people showed up during the time we were there. You can watch the boats pass like from the panorama window of your castle, and if you are lucky you can spot dolphins. (If not you can see the boats stuffed with tourists standing along the guard-rails trying to spot dolphins... ;-) Truly wonderful.
Do not get confused with Britomart Reserve and Britomart Memorial, they have nothing in common but the word Britomart. The Reserve is the lawn area between the Town Wharf and the public toilets, the Memorial is a 20 min walk from there, past the lighthouse.
Photo 2 shows the Union Jack on the flagpole beside the obelisk.
Address: Greens Point, Beach Road, Akaroa
The light of the lighthouse.
Only on Sundays you can access the lighthouse. It is open from 1.30pm to 4.30pm.
There is a telephone number for group bookings (03 304 7347) – but let me tell you, when five people are on one of the three levels it is overcrowded!
The mechanism which makes the light flash every some seconds is still working perfectly.
On the wall on level 2 you can see photos of the relocation in 1978.
On level 3 you can get out to the deck and get a very nice view of Akaroa and the harbour.
Mind your head there and on the narrow ladder-like stairs between the three levels.
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