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Akaroa Without A Car - Part 1
Dorothy - 6/8/99

Akaroa from the Lighthouse Road
Akaroa from the Lighthouse Road
Photo source Peter Hunt
Relax, unwind, enjoy the views, visit the Hector dolphins in the Canterbury Cat, take photographs, go walking, boating, fishing, explore the history , visit the art and craft shops, and have interesting meals from a good choice of eating places....

All this is possible without a car, so visitors who arrive on the shuttle can have a great holiday without leaving the Akaroa area. There is a wide range of accommodation in Akaroa to suit every budget, so book in and enjoy a holiday at a leisurely pace in this lovely village with its French connections.

What will you do?
I suggest that you start your exploration with a visit to the Information Centre, part of the old Post Office building, on the corner of Rue Lavaud and Rue Balguerie. You can't miss it on the main street. There you can find pamphlets and maps which will help you to choose what activity most appeals to you.

History displayed before you

The Langlois-Eteveneaux cottage
The Langlois-Eteveneaux cottage
Photo source Peter Hunt
Visiting the Langlois-Eteveneaux Cottage and Museum diagonally opposite the Information Centre provides a good start. The house is probably the oldest in Canterbury, dating from around 1846. It has been furnished in the style of a French colonist and shows figures of a man and a women in period costume. An unusual feature is the inward opening windows à la française.

Exhibits in the museum cover a wide range and give a picture of life in Akaroa in earlier times.

The museum has recently been extended and new displays have been added. A new feature is the time line covering the last hundred years - up to the millennium.

There is an excellent new video produced by Bob Parker on the civilisation of Maori and Europeans on Banks Peninsula.

There are displays of native birds and exhibits featuring sawmilling, cocksfoot cutting and whaling.

Outside the museum is a model of a shearing shed from the colonial period with the blades for shearing and a wool press.

The garden in front of the museum displays plants mentioned in Raoul'sChoix de Plantes de la Nouvelle Zélande dating from 1846.

The Courthouse used from 1880 to 1976 is adjacent to the museum and has been developed as an extension with further displays. There is a court scene set around the turn of the century with the the magistrate, the lawyer, the witness, the accused, the policeman and the stenographer taking notes at an old typewriter - all in period costume.

The Custom House at Daly's Wharf is also part of the museum. It dates from the 1850s and is built of pit-sawn timber and lined with sod. It was carefully restored in 1976 and shows a man on duty surrounded by old records and equipment. To view the Custom House walk down Rue Balguerie towards the sea.

Walking around Akaroa
Once you know some of the history of the place you'll get special pleasure out of simply strolling around the streets of the little town and looking at the buildings which include examples of many styles of architecture from 1846 to the present day.

The Akaroa Civic Trust has produced a brochure called Akaroa - Historic Village Walk. It gives the story of forty five older buildings. To complete this walk takes about two hours.

Old buildings opposite the recreation ground
Old buildings opposite the recreation ground, from left, St Patrick's church, Arts et Métiers (a cooperative craft shop), C'est La Vie Restaurant, and a protected historic house.
Photo source Peter Hunt
Old buildings have been put to innovative uses. You can go to a monthly concert or view an exhibition in The Gallery Akaroa which used to be a Power House.

Where Mr Morecambe, the tailor, made the conservative clothes for Peninsula dwellers around the turn of the century there is now a restaurant, C'est la Vie".

Walking on the flat
If you find walking uphill difficult wander along Rue Lavaud.

Historic churches
Visit the beautiful old churches. The Catholic Church of St Patrick was built of totara, black pine and kauri in 1864 after two earlier buildings had been destroyed, the first by fire and the second by a violent storm. Trinity Presbyterian Church just off Rue Lavaud in Rue Brittan is the second on the site, built in 1886. Back in Rue Lavaud visit St Peter's Anglican Church built in 1863 and extended in 1877 - regarded by many as one of the finest of Canterbury's old wooden churches. It holds a historic treasure - a Communion set with a Latin inscription, "For use in the Church of Canterbury". It is one of four sets used on the First Four Ships that brought English settlers to Lyttelton in 1850.

Shops and cafés
Look in the shops which offer everything from food and clothes to gifts, souvenirs and the work of local artists and craftspeople. When you want to rest, stop for tea or coffee or a glass of wine in one of the cafés or licensed bars.

View of the waterfront area from the wharf
View of the waterfront area from the wharf
Photo source Ann Vizer
Walk around the waterfront to the Lighthouse
Note the trypot which Captain George Hempleman used at Peraki Bay on the south coast of Banks Peninsula from about 1837 when he established a shore-whaling station there.

Look for the stone which marks where Akaroa's first settlers landed. It is near to three trypots built into a brick surround in the way in which the trypots would have been arranged when used to render down blubber at sea on a whaling ship.

Carry on to Green Point and view the Akaroa Lighthouse brought from its original site at the entrance to the harbour and re-erected at Green Point.

Harbour trips to see Hector dolphins .....
The Canterbury Cat offers at least one cruise daily on the harbour. Cruises includes a full commentary by the captain who has a wide knowledge of the history and wildlife of Akaroa. The covered cabin seats over fifty passengers and there is a large observation deck. Highlights of the trip are watching the Hector Dolphins which will play around the boat in the summer months, viewing the little white flippered blue penguins found only on the Canterbury Coast, and seeing young salmon being fed on the salmon farm at Lucas Bay.

Amusez-vous bien.

Read Part two for information about more energetic activities in Akaroa.

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