Akaroa New Zealand and the Banks Peninsula

12 02 2013

IMG_0097With the balance of the warm sunny day before us, and with no set schedule, we decided to visit New Zealand’s South Island’s Banks Peninsula and the picturesque seaside harbor of Akaroa! Angelique, Yurira, Elwin, myself, and Oscar piled in to the Camry and headed southeast. Oscar and Yurira, even though this is their third season here, had never been there and wanted to check it out.IMG_0094

Having everyone there was unparalleled for me! I’d met Elwin and Angelique in Patagonia. Yurira and Oscar in Oregon, and here we were in New Zealand!

The road passes through beautiful valleys filled with cow and sheep, before climbing, winding up and over the peninsula. While Christchurch is relatively flat, the peninsula is mountainous. In places you are hundreds of feet above the ocean and one can see forever! I caught a glimpse of a sailboat race outside Akaroa. I would see sailboat races all over New Zealand.

IMG_0096If you are in Christchurch, the Banks Peninsula is definitely worth visiting. It sticks out like a grape southeast of town. It has “spokes” of inlets, flanked by mountains, radiating out from the center – so one can find incredible seclusion there. The drive is ridiculously scenic. It is a 1,150 sq km volcanic feature, formed by two eruptive volcanoes. Waters are sapphire blue, and palms are common.IMG_0095

Sun splashed Akaroa was dry, warm, with a gentle breeze blowing through the palms by the harbor. A nice place to window browse, walk the pier, admire the comings and goings of boats, stroll the avenues, and take in a 20-oz British pint of ale under umbrella by the water.

I would be remiss if I glossed over Akaroa’s rich French heritage! Not only is it a beautiful palm studded town on a warm bay, but it is rich in French architecture, heritage and cuisine. The fact is, the South Island narrowly missed becoming a French colony right here. In 1838 French whalers bought the peninsula from the Maori and went to France with the news. They returned with French settlers, but just two days earlier English pounced with their flag, proclaiming it for the English Crown. Nevertheless, nearly 70 French citizens started the settlement, and to this day French heritage is celebrated.


We had a terrific day with Oscar and Yurira! They had much advice for us on our journey ahead. I’m grateful and hope to maybe join them in Alaska next summer!





%d bloggers like this: