A Taste of France on the Banks Peninsula

When I first read about the little town of Akaroa I just knew we couldn’t leave New Zealand without visiting.

A bit of French Heritage.

Akaroa Building

This applies both to Akaroa and to Jason. His maternal grandfather was born in New York to French parents. When Gaugie was about 3 years old, they returned to France, where he spent the remainder of his youth.

For that reason, French culture has always enthralled Jason . He has such a strong connection to his grandfather, in fact that is where he got his love of photography! Akaroa was the perfect first stop on our road trip, as J shares his love of France (and photography) not only with his grandfather, but with Gina (J’s mom) as well!

Fence Post Sunset

A little town history.

In 1838 a French whaling boat captain by the name of Jean François Langlois made a provisional purchase of land in the greater Banks Peninsula in hopes of beginning a French settlement. This was 2 years before the British formed Wellington, the first official settlement of New Zealand. Langlois then returned to France to recruit settlers.

On 9 March 1840, 63 emigrants left from Rochefort. The settlers embarked on the Comte de Paris – an old man-of-war ship given to them by the French government – for New Zealand. The Comte de Paris and its companion ship the Aube arrived in the Bay of Islands in the North Island on 11 July 1840, where they discovered that the Banks Peninsula had been claimed by the British. The French arrived in Akaroa on 18 August and established a settlement.

The area still has a French influence, reflected in many local placenames.[1] 

A Scenic Drive.

Akaroa is a quick hour and a half from Christchurch along windy but extremely idyllic roads. You finally descend down the steep incline into the little town nestled on the harbor shore. We arrived in the early evening. After setting up camp at the Top 10 we wandered down the dirt footpath into town. While not centrally located, the holiday park we chose had a lovely view out over the town and harbor.

Wandering around a bit we were treated to a candyfloss sunset and diving pied shags off the pier.

Cocktails at a little waterfront bistro with a roaring fire was how we ended the night. After a busy first day, we began to ease into our road trip in the little town of Akaroa.

Sunset over Akaroa

Candyfloss sunset

Akaroa Pier

Here’s a sneak peak at what we got up to the following day.

Hector Dolphin Tail

Check back tomorrow for a review of our tour with Akaroa Dolphins!

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