Akaroa: a bit of French magic in New Zealand

My previous post was of Fisherman’s Bay Garden, just 20 minutes away from the pretty coastal town of Akaroa, on the south island of New Zealand.

Akaroa is the Ngai Tahu word for Long Harbour.  The Maori, who were the first to occupy this Bay, took advantage of the abundant supply of “food from the forests, seas, river, and skies”.

No wonder the British explorer, Captain Cook, when he had circumnavigated both islands, sent word back to England that he had ”found Paradise”.

During our holiday in New Zealand we were charmed in every way….not only was the weather perfect, but our B&B was set in a beautiful garden.

The volcanic soil and plentiful rain makes gardening look easy in New Zealand. ( As you can see I have garden envy!)

In this bucolic environment the morning began with a slow walk through the green lush garden, and then a stroll down the hill to the coffee shop.

In 1838 a French whaler Captain Jean Francois L’Anglois was so impressed with Akaroa Bay that he  made a provisional purchase of the land in the Banks Peninsula from the local Maori.

However, by the time the French settlers arrived in 1840, the Treaty of Waitangi between the British Crown and the Maori chiefs had been signed.

However, the French still established a settlement with 60 French immigrants and the descendants of these original French settlers are still in New Zealand.

Today Akaroa is seen as both a historic French and British settlement.

The small French community has had an immense influence on wine and other imports from France.




One of my favourite buildings ..the Coronation Library.

We watched children (and young adults) jumping off the pier to swim…what an idyllic way for children to grow up!

Our B&B host had told us that the butcher sold very tasty baguettes at lunch time, and she was right!

Every day we bought some baguettes overflowing with cheeses, ham, salad, local pickles, and chutneys …we sat under the trees near the town square, and watched the boats coming in and out of the bay.

In the town square was a sculpture of a French artist and well known engraver, Charles Meryon whose later work in Paris reflects the influence of his stay in New Zealand.

Sculpture of French artist Charles Meryon

On our last evening we sat in the garden of a restaurant called Mandala, which had Pacific Indian and Asian fusion food..

After a delicious meal we walked around the beautiful bay..needless to say, I took more photos than I could ever use!

The combination of seeing the Fisherman’s Bay garden, and staying in Akaroa made this a very special place.

When we arrived back in Australia we faced a long summer of bushfires and unpredictable weather. (now coming to an end, hopefully)

It has been a lovely distraction looking through these photos, and Akaroa will always have a special place in my heart.

Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved.










24 Replies to “Akaroa: a bit of French magic in New Zealand”

  1. Thank you for the lovely visit. Now where is the photo of that fabulous baguette??? My mouth is watering! Many of these lanes remind me of small towns right here in central Virginia. As here, I so wish utility lines were required to go underground. Glad you had fun. Diane

    1. Yes, I should have taken a photo of the baguettes, and the wonderful glossy cookbook featuring Akaroa produce… I’ll have to return!

  2. It looks and sounds so idyllic, Gerrie. The sculpture is absolutely delightful and the garden in your last photo looks so inviting that I want to be there right now. 🙂

    1. I love that last photo of the garden, and yes, I have wished I could airlift myself back into that peaceful garden many times!

  3. I did enjoy this post and was happy to share it with my brother with whom I am spending the weekend as he also spent time in New Zealand. Thank,you so much for your excellent photographs.

    1. I’m glad that you and your brother could enjoy seeing this beautiful part of New Zealand again. It is a most photogenic country!

  4. It’s decades since I went to Akaroa, Gerrie, so it’s such a pleasure to renew my acquaintance via your post. What a delightful town it is. You must have doubly enjoyed your trip as it was an escape from fire and drought as well as a beautiful tour of NZ. I hope you had some rain in Canberra recently.

    1. Glad you enjoyed seeing lovely Akaroa again, New Zealand looked so lush and green compared to Australia. Yes, we have had some good falls of rain in the last two weeks, and the gardens are springing to life….amazing!

  5. Yes, thank you for the lovely visit. Such a beautiful place. And what a bonus to find a store with good baguettes for lunch outside. Also, because my ancestors are French Canadian, I found it interesting that there was a small French enclave in New Zealand. I did not know that.

    1. Very interesting to read your ancestors are French Canadian. The French were hardy folk to explore the far corners of the world.

    1. Thanks Judy…in the last month we have had much needed rain, and now the fires are officially extinguished. The clearing and building across Australia begins….a tough job.

    1. I loved those little cottages too, and some of them are overflowing with flowers. I’m sure you would enjoy New Zealand and Australia, in different ways. Thanks for the comment.

  6. What a wonderfully relaxing holiday that was! The gardens so lush and colourful and those gorgeous houses! I hope those awful fires die out completely very soon,

    1. The fires have been extinguished by rain, but it has been a very long hot summer. Thank goodness for the rain, I think the UK could start selling us water soon!

  7. Oh it certainly is paradise! What a fantastic place to visit, I would have taken thousands of pictures too. I do hope to visit New Zealand one day, thanks for the marvelous tour.xxx

  8. Yes, I think I could get used to that! It does look a very relaxing place to be.
    I’m so relieved to hear that the bushfires have finally been extinguished. As ever it’s a world of extremes, we have more rain at the moment than we know what to do with. Perhaps unsurprising as it still seems to rain in abundance everywhere I go. Even Uluru had a one in fifty year rain event while we were there. Perhaps ScoMo could be persuaded to give me a visa?? OK, worth a try 🙂

    1. I’ve seem photos of flooding water in some parts of the UK. Well, if you can bring on rain at Uluru, I’m sure you will be most welcome in Australia. You could promise to do a rain dance for ScoMo!

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