Posts Tagged ‘Akaroa’

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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This novel would fascinate anyone with an interest in the history of Banks Peninsula.  A branch of my family lived in Akaroa in the late 19th century, I’ve spent many holidays there, and I’ve walked the Banks Peninsula Track.  With careful research of the historical setting the book tells the stories of two fictional early Pakeha settlers in Akaroa, the struggle between French and English for control over the area, and the interaction with takata whenua.  The willow tree of the title, sometimes thought to be the ancestor of the willows that now grow along the Avon/Otakaro, came from a slip from the willow beside Napoleon’s grave on St Helena.

The book opens unusually with a glossary of Maori words.  There was only one I wasn’t familiar with – Tinirau, guardian of sea creatures, son of Takaroa.

The descriptions of the area have the power of authenticity, especially when characters walk up the Rue Balguerie, past the stream.  I loved the description of the forest “where birds seemed not so much to twitter as to shout”.

My only quibble about the writing was that it sometimes seemed to me a little ponderous, almost as though the author couldn’t decide whether she was writing serious history or fiction.  The story is well worth reading and an excellent addition to local knowledge.

“”The separate settlements unfold
as Akaroa’s story’s told.”

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With an Australian nephew visiting briefly, a day trip to Akaroa was our intention.  We stopped at the Little River Craft Station, where Paul, who’s a telecommunications engineer, was intrigued by the antique switchboard.


In Akaroa he was even more intrigued by a KTM vehicle.


KTM usually make racing motorbikes, but this was definitely a sports car.  The full face helmets and body harness suggest it might be capable of going very fast, and I’ve learned it’s the first four-wheeled model in KTM’s history.  I was told that no windscreen or canopy are required because if it rains you’re going so fast the raindrops don’t reach you!

We lunched on fresh fish and chips on the Akaroa wharf while we watched tenders from the cruise ship Noordam travelling back and forth.


One of the commercial boats had a sea-faring dog.


The Akaroa Lighthouse light was flashing intermittently, something I’ve not seen before.


We drove up to look more closely and found the lighthouse is open to visitors, 12.30-3.30pm on Sundays and cruise ship days.  By now it was 4pm, so we were too late to go inside.

On the drive home, we were very nearly involved in an accident.  Rounding a bend, a car ahead of us went over to the wrong side of the road, and almost crashed into an oncoming vehicle which was towing a boat.  The erring driver, who just managed to return to the left hand side, was Asian and the car was from Apex Car Rentals.  We followed them cautiously for a short distance, when they turned in a driveway and headed back towards Akaroa.  It was some time before we had sufficient cellphone coverage to be able to report the incident to the *555 Roadwatch line.

“A day in Akaroa – bliss
not so good – a car crash near miss.”

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Classic Cars

In Akaroa we saw numerous classic cars – Thunderbird, Studebaker, Austin Healey, Maserati.  It’s obvious that many visitors there are rich, and perhaps have little concern about global warming.  However, the one I liked most was this S-Cargo with the eyelashes.

Love those Lashes! (Small)

“Of many fancy cars we saw
This was the one I hankered for!”

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Fabulous Fox!

We sailed on the Fox II, the oldest gaff-rigged ketch in New Zealand, which offers cruises in Akaroa Harbour twice a day, from December to May.

Fox II

Fox II

Ruth 'steering' the ship.

Ruth ‘steering’ the ship.

We headed out under engine power, but once we were close to the harbour heads the sails were unfurled and skilfully manipulated.

Under sail

Under sail

Many Hectors Dolphins dived and swam alongside  – or maybe it was just a few staying nearby.

Dolphin surfacing

Dolphin surfacing


Dolphins swimming alongside

Dolphins swimming alongside

The Captain played music which he assured us attracted the dolphins – a variety of sailing songs.  We also saw seals, shag colonies, a giant petrel, and an albatross.  The three hour cruise was an exhilerating experience.  When we were out on the Pacific Ocean there was a heavy swell and the boat rocked violently.  A crew member handed round candied ginger ‘to settle the stomach’.   I’ve twice been out on the Black Cat, and would strongly recommend Fox II as the better experience.   There were just 11 passengers on our trip, although she can take up to 30.

When we returned to shore (after complimentary hot drink and biscuit) we found our mooring spot usurped.  The crew then moored mid-harbour, got us all to put on life jackets, and we transferred to a zodiac which ferried us back in.

Abandon ship!

Abandon ship!

This was an exciting end to a wonderful cruise.

“Who knew that dolphins like a song
and that it makes them swim along?”


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