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Archive for the ‘Travel in Australasia’ Category

Floral Friday

This magnificent rata tree was in full bloom on Beach Road in Akaroa.  This southern rata is native to New Zealand and can grow up to 15 metres tall.  Like the pohutukawa it is sometimes called New Zealand’s Christmas tree because it flowers in December.  Maori legend tells of the young warrior Tawhaki and his attempt to find help in heaven to avenge his father’s death.  He subsequently fell to earth and the crimson flowers are said to represent his blood.

“This is a spectacular tree
one simply has to stop and see.”

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Akaroa Ambling #3

Two years ago I’d walked through Akaroa’s Garden of Tane to the Anglican Cemetery, then back along the Onuku Road.  It had been a long walk, and with a storm forecast I decided it would be easier to get Stephen to drop me at the graveyard and walk back.  We passed a sign for the Roman Catholic Cemetery, but saw nothing to indicate the Anglican one which I recalled had a large car park.  A track sign at the side of the road said Anglican Cemetery, so he dropped me off there and I walked along a bush track to discover the car park.  Obviously there was a side road which led to it, but no signpost.  I’d come armed with directions, and easily found the grave where two of my Nicholls great-uncles are buried.  One died from tuberculosis contracted while serving in the South African (Boer) War, and the other died of pneumonia as an infant.

Nicholls great-uncles’ grave

After paying my respects I thought I would take a track to the Garden of Tane.  The well marked path instead led directly down to the Lighthouse.

Akaroa Lighthouse

By now the wind was fierce, so I decided the best choice was to head back to our unit and a cup of tea.

“I visited a family grave
within the Anglican enclave.”

 

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Akaroa Ambling #2

The French Cemetery Walk was supposed to start with a five minute uphill climb on a steep bush track.  I found the track had been boarded off, so walked up the Rue Brittain instead.  The French Cemetery is where settlers of all faiths were buried before larger denominational cemeteries were opened in the 1860s, and it was the first Christian burial ground in the South Island.

 

French Cemetery

There are probably 50 people buried here, but many names are unknown.    Those that are known are recorded on the memorial, including that of Captain LeLievre who died of ‘vegetable colic’.  This is now thought to be a form of poisoning from the casks of Normandy cider which were bound with lead.    It’s a peaceful spot, with the noise of busy cicadas and many birds.  From the cemetery I was able to take a bush track to Libeau Lane, and Rue Grehan where there are still some of the cottages built in the early days of settlement for brickmaker Joseph Libeau’s family and workers.

Libeau Cottage at 54 Rue Grehan

The walk continues along Rue Lavaud to St Patrick’s Catholic Church, built in 1865 and in regular use ever since.  The architects were Bury and Mountfort of Christchurch, and it has a Category 1 listing from Heritage N.Z.  The stepped bargeboards and offset spire add to the French flavour of the church.

St Patrick’s Church

Inside the church

“This walk includes early French links
important to hist’ry methinks.”

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Akaroa Ambling #1

A new series of walk pamphlets has been produced by the Rod Donald Banks Peninsula Trust Te Pataka o Rakaihautu.  I tried several of their Akaroa village walks.

The Boardwalk to Children’s Bay led round the north end of the harbour, where I haven’t walked before.

Akaroa Harbour at low tide, from the boardwalk.

Part of the way is along a boardwalk, then an unsealed road leads to the beach, which is said to be named for the children of the French Eteveneaux family who arrived in 1840 on the Comte de Paris.  The only visible action on the harbour was a speedboat with a whooping passenger on a ‘biscuit’.

From the beach there is a walkway which leads up across farmland.   It goes over the headland to Takamatua, but I turned back before then.

Walkway from Children’s Bay

“An easy walk to Children’s Bay
was perfect on a summers day.”

 

 

 

 

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We chose the hottest week of the hottest month in New Zealand since records began to spend time in Akaroa.  On the way we stopped at the Little River Cafe and Gallery.   This is always an exciting place to visit with amazing artworks.  We sat outside in the shade and admired the sculptures, especially this one:

‘Global Warming’ by Hamish Southcote

It’s hard to see in the shaded photo but it features a polar bear with a shopping trolley with bags of ice.

We stayed at L’Hotel where we’ve often stayed before, and appreciated having an airy balcony and a large efficient fan.  The weather was HOT, around 30 degrees most days.  One night I had a cool shower before bed, then got up a couple of hours later to have another one.  Luckily we had a fridge with icecubes, and enjoyed frequent drinks of Barkers Limes and Elderflower cordial.

Akaroa Harbour

We knew beforehand that there were likely to be cruise ships in the harbour on Monday and Thursday, and our unit was well positioned to watch the thousands of trippers swarming through on Monday.  It was lovely when the town reverted to its usual quiet the next day, and we were happy when Thursday’s cruise ship visit was cancelled because of stormy weather.

We enjoyed eating out, with many options close by.

Dinner at Bully Hayes

Whitebait omelette for breakfast – yum!

On our way home we stopped at the Cheskin Orchard at Cooptown, where we bought beautiful fresh cherries and apricots.  We’ve not been there before, but we certainly will again.

“This small town is a lovely place
without cruise ships there’s lots of space.”

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I was kidnapped by Victorian Railways in Australia.  I was visitng my brother in Melbourne and he knew I loved train travel.  We were on an inner city circuit and he asked if I would like to go around again.  “Yes, please!”  Unbeknownst to us this particular train changed routes at 3pm and headed off into the hinterland.  Luckily we were able to get off, cross the tracks, and catch a train back to the city in time to retrieve our car, and get to the airport for my flight home to New Zealand.

“The train ran off a different way.
It’s lucky I got home that day.”

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Delightful Dunedin

We found lots of fun things to do in Dunedin.  My favourite was the Tropical Rainforest in the Otago Museum, where a butterfly alighted on my hand, and quails shuffled around our feet.

butterfly-on-ruths-hand-small

Here’s a slideshow of some other highlights:

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Back to ‘normal’ life now.

“It’s good to see another place
and to come back to our home base.”

 

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