Thursday, January 1, 2015

Akaroa - New Zealand's French village

Hi there
I absolutely positively adore Ohope Beach, but Akaroa down the South Island is, in my opinion, the prettiest place in New Zealand. 

Way back in the 1800's,  a French explorer landed there, thought the area was magnificent, sailed home to France, collected a whole swag of settlers, and sailed right on back to New Zealand.

Uh oh.  In the meantime, the British had claimed Akaroa.  Goodness, they had planted their flag!  And this always reminds me of British comedian Eddie Izzard's routine on "Dress to Kill" (TV, CD, and DVD).   He imitates an early explorer landing in a foreign country, and says petulently something like, "but I've planted a flag!"  A flag, of course, gives one immediate ownership over any country and its people.

The French settlers stayed in the area.  Many bays and coves have French names.  The street names offically start with the word "Rue".  Yearly, the French heritage is celebrated. 

When I was in Akaroa I went on the mail run with the postie (in his van).  I don't know if the mail run still exists but every corner we turned, there was the most spectacular view.  If you go to Akaroa, you must really go up high to appreciate the scenery.

At the information office, I picked up lots of walking maps.  One walk was the toughest I think I have ever done.  I swear that I climbed straight up this monstrous hill!  It wasn't until I reached the top I realised there was actually a winding road I could have walked or driven on.  However, walkers up the road may not have got such good views.  Every inch of every walk I went on was bursting with sheer beauty.

On my fourth evening in Akaroa, I stepped in a penguin burrow and hurt my ankle so bad I could only hobble around for my last three days.  As a friend pointed out later, I always seem to come home from a holiday with some injury or other!

image by Trey Ratcliff (taken from internet).  Click for closer look.

There are day trips to Akaroa from Christchurch and there are still, I think, guided group walks from Christchurch to Akaroa that take 3 or 4 days.
PS:  a dozen hours after I wrote  the above...  Helen, our reader in Europe, read about my visit to Akaroa and mentioned that poet Pam Ayres wrote and performed a poem called "Akaroa Cannon".  It's on You Tube.

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