Monday, June 8, 2009

Akaroa - in the Rain

With the Southerly hemming us in and the weather terrible in Christchurch, there was no real point heading over to Mt Hutt and the Alps as there would simply be nothing to see. However, as I had never been to Akaroa in my life, despite the rain, Liz decided we would go down there as there's a few art galleries to see and some top notch views.

Driving down it was very wet. Water coming off the hills and spilling onto the road, making it quite treacherous. Cattle and Sheep had their own Antarctic 'islands' as they were totally surrrounded in flood water.

We arrived in Cooptown and stopped to look at the gallery. I've tried finding out more about Cooptown before writing this, but there is nothing on the internet at all about it, except in Maori which I can't read. I can tell you though. It was wet. And small. Very small. Blink and eye and you would miss it. So just in case you do miss it, I took a few photos for you..

This was just over the road from the gallery. As you can see it wasn't the brightest day weatherwise. And it was COLD! Freezing in fact.

But this wasn't a deterrent for hardy tourists like myself. And definitely not a deterrent for these hardy southlanders like Liz. They're used to this weather!

Just to let you get the drift of Cooptown a bit more - here's another image of it's most populous residents...

And for those are now enamoured of the place, I found your weekend getaway for sale. Needs a teeny weeny bit of tender care, but could be easily be your next 'do-up' project.. I'm sure the capital gain on it would be through the roof!

It's a cutie really!

Onwards up the hill we come to the top, and the lookout for Akaroa. To mark this spot I took the photo despite the weather...

If it had been a lovely clear sunny day - this is what I would have seen instead...

(Photo taken by another tourist, not me!)

The difference is quite marked don't you think??

At this lookout, there was a hotel, and two old cars were parked outside it. The owners obviously sensibly ensconsed in front of a fire having hot devonshire teas. However the car was interesting, and because of the lack of 'vista' to photograph, I photographed the car instead...

If anyone can tell me what kind of car it is, it would be greatly appreciated. My knowledge of cars doesn't go further than the colour of them! I believe this is the Old Great Yellow Car.

Akaroa in itself was very charming. Old villas and cottages, lighthouses, boatsheds. It's a very historic place. Land ownership passed from Maori into Colonial government in the early 1800's. One of the whalers who put into Akaroa Harbour in the late 1830s was a French captain, Jean Francois Langlois. Langlois returned to France with a land deed signed by some local Maori, believing he had purchased all of Banks Peninsula. The Nanto-Bordelaise Company, with tacit support and assistance from the French Government, decided to found a French settlement on Banks Peninsula. It sent out the Comte de Paris, with close to 60 settlers aboard, in 1840. The settlers were mainly French, but included a handful of Germans.

The French Government also sent out a warship, L’Aube, under Captain Lavaud, to support the settlers. There was a French naval presence in Akaroa Harbour until 1846. By the time the French arrived in Akaroa in August 1840, New Zealand was already British, and the Union Jack was flying from a flag staff on Green’s Point. It had been raised a few days earlier to demonstrate to the French arrivals that the South Island was British. Despite this setback to the plans to establish a French colony on the South Island, the French settlers remained, and their descendants are among the present-day residents of Akaroa.

By the 1850s, after the founding of the Canterbury Settlement and of Christchurch in 1850, the French were outnumbered by settlers of other nationalities, especially British. The small French village of the 1840s, with buildings which had a markedly French look about them, became a typical New Zealand colonial town, with buildings that followed mainly British architectural precedents. But Akaroa has the distinction of being the only town in New Zealand founded by French settlers.

The architecture with the original buildings still havce a french influence. As it was raining, I took the photos from the car...

I could easily live in a cottage like this. Providing it had a fireplace. A big one. And Batts in the attic.

This is the old historic Shipping Office of Akaroa..

It has now been transformed into luxury accommodation, in the form of a two bedroom apartment which you can rent out for $180 a night. It doesn't have a fireplace, but it does boast electric heating. That person under the umbrella is Liz. She had tried to move the wheelie bins away so I could take the photo without them in front. (She's a wonderful photographer's assistant!) But obviously the people who had stayed there last had drunk too much, as they were too heavy to move, so the photo now shows you how Akaroa deals with their rubbish as well!

This next historic building I found is the Coronation Library. Since 1875, residents of Akaroa keen on reading have used this picturesque building as their library. Was built in 1875, and is situated at 103 Rue Jolie. Even the street names are still in French.

I took another image of an old cottage, and have just found out online that this again is quite a historic place in Akaroa. Google is wonderful for that. It's the cottage that Captain Bruce built, an early Scottish settler, he built it for his widowed brother-in-law and his two nieces. It was built in 1856...

One of the oldest surviving houses in Canterbury, the Langlois-Eteveneaux Cottage was built in the early 1840s by Aimable Langlois. He returned to France in 1842.

This is the Fire and Ice building, which was built in 1884, and started life as Akaroa's first Bakery.

By now we decided it was time for lunch, and a quick brisk walk along the waterfront saw us in a cafe offering hot seafood chowder. We couldn't pass that up - it was a perfect day for that food. After lunch we thought this sign would mean a lot to many people..

Back in the car and we drove around the waterfront. I wondered why I saw so many wood pigeons (native pigeons of New Zealand), then realised we were in Pigeon Bay. I'ts not a good photo, but I had everything against me - the light, the rain, the distance it was in the tree..

And then there was the famous lighthouse..

The original Akaroa lighthouse started operation on the precipitous headland of Akaroa Heads on 1 January 1880. One hundred years later, it was moved down to Akaroa Township, after being replaced in 1977 by an automated light. There are now tours of it on request. We didn't request one that day. Too cold!

We did drive down this rickety old road south of Akaroa and I found some old boatsheds...

These apparently do have some historical significance in the area, but I couldn't find out anything about it.

Just before we left Akaroa, we headed into the most delightful art gallery. I saw several pieces of artwork I could have easily bought, for friends and family and myself - but it's the thought that counted isn't it?

But we did spot a quirky piece of art on the side of a building on our way out of town...

I'm not sure what the artist was trying to convey here, because I get the feeling he may be trying to point out that a certain gender likes being on the phone. They'd be wrong though.

Anyway - that was Akaroa - I very much appreciate Liz taking the time to take me to such a spot. And despite the weather, I enjoyed it a lot. I would like to go back one day when the sun is shining though. (Does the sun shine down there?)


Morgan said...

Wow, astounding photos. You should do a book on NZ.

The car is a hotrod. I know that much!

Anonymous said...

Thanks - I might one day. I've since found out that the car is a 1934 Chevy Coupe.

I still prefer it being The Great Old Yella Car though!

hollie said...

Hi. I am the Marketing person for Akaroa and I think your images are great. Is there any chance I would be able to use some of them for marketing and promotional purposes, non commercial?. I would appreciate that. Kind regards, Hollie.

hollie said...

Hi. I am the Marketing person for Akaroa and I love your images. They are beautiful. Is there any chance I would be able to use them for promotional use? (Non commercial). I would appreciate that. And yes, the sun does shine down here. Not today though. Come back in the summer. Regards, Hollie.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for your comment - email me at to discuss.


Mog said...

Fascinating post, great pictures as usual.

More please!

Anonymous said...

Just came across your blog, I think your writing style and photography skills are fantastic! Was good to see another NZ person with a cochlear implant blogging :)

Christopher Lehfeldt said...

Fantastic photographs. You have a keen eye for these wonderful photographs, such scintillating juxtaposition of colors and textures!