Just 75 kilometres from the city of Christchurch, New Zealand, Akaroa is a historic French and British settlement nestled in the heart of an ancient volcano. Explore the village with its colonial architecture, galleries, craft stores, and cafés. Relax or take part in the many activities that are on offer. Explore the dramatic outer bays and take your time to soak in the magic of this area. A wide range of accommodation is available and you will need more than a day to explore this little piece of paradise.
Akaroa is a village on Banks Peninsula in the Canterbury region of the South Island of New Zealand, situated within aharbour of the same name. The name Akaroa is Kāi Tahu Māori for ‘Long Harbour’.
Akaroa is 84 km by road from Christchurch and is the terminus of State Highway 75. In the 2006 New Zealand census of population and dwellings, the permanent population was 567, a decrease of 7 since 2001. The village has a high (29.6%) ratio of residents aged over 65.
Set on a beautiful, sheltered harbour and overlooked by craggy volcanic hills, Akaroa is a popular resort village and in summer the temporary population can reach 15,000which places stress on the summer water supply, which is entirely dependent upon rainfall on the hills.
Many Hector’s Dolphins may be found within Akaroa harbour, and ‘swim with the dolphins’ boat tours are a major tourist attraction.
In 1830 the Māori settlement at Takapuneke, just east of the current village of Akaroa, became the scene of a notorious incident. The Captain of the British brig Elizabeth, John Stewart, helped North Island Ngāti Toa chief, Te Rauparaha, to capture the local Ngai Tahu chief, Te Maiharanui, his wife Te Whe and his young daughter, Roi Mata. The settlement of Takapuneke was sacked. Concern over the complicity of John Stewart, amongst other lawlessness among Europeans in New Zealand, led to the appointment of an official British Resident James Busby to New Zealand in 1832 – the first step in the British involvement that led to the Treaty of Waitangi.
In 1832 Te Rauparaha, fresh from his successful three-month siege of Kaiapoi, took the pa on the Onawe Peninsula at the head of Akaroa Harbour.
After constantly refusing to recognise New Zealand as a British colony the Crown issued an Imperial Proclamation on 15 June 1839, which cited New Zealand as part of the British Realm.
After being informed of the French intent to colonise Akaroa and use further as a whaling port, the English ship the “Britomart” was despatched in order to proclaim sovereignty for the Crown. The “Britomart” arrived in Akaroa on 16 August (although the captains’ log shows this arrival date as the 11th of August in 1840 ),Captain Stanley raised the British flag and held a court at each of the occupied settlements.
James Robinson Clough, also known as Jimmy Robinson, had arrived at Akaroa several years before. He acted as interpreter for Captain Owen Stanley at the flag-raising of 1840, and was the first Pakeha to travel up the river Avon in 1843. Mr Robinson Clough’s descendants are still prominent on the Peninsula today.
The following English emigrants settled in both Akaroa and German Bay (Takamatua) along with many German farmers who set up dairy, sheep and cocksfoot farms. The great majority of the artifacts currently held at Akaroa Museum are of the early farming community and their lifestyle of the time.
In 1838 Captain Jean-François Langlois made a provisional purchase of land in “the greater Banks Peninsula” from Tuaanau. A deposit of commodities in the value of ₤6 was paid and a further ₤234 worth of commodities was to be paid at a later period. On his return to France, he advertised for settlers to come to New Zealand and ceded his interest in the land to the Nanto-Bordelaise Company, of which he became a part owner. On 9 March 1840, 63 emigrants left from Rochefort. The settlers embarked on the “Comté de Paris” — an old man-of-war ship given to them by the French government — for New Zealand. The “Comté de Paris” and its companion ship the “Aube” captained by Commodore Charles François Lavaud arrived in the Bay of Islandsin 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.
Before 1840, the area of the current Akaroa village was also known as Wangaloa, and the subsequent French settlement was known as Port Louis-Philippe, named after theFrench king of the time