Akaroa Off The Beaten Path

  • Small but lovely: St. Kentigern.
    Small but lovely: St. Kentigern.
    by Kakapo2
  • Banks Peninsula's landscape in the windows.
    Banks Peninsula's landscape in the...
    by Kakapo2
  • Picnic spot above Pigeon Bay and the beach.
    Picnic spot above Pigeon Bay and the...
    by Kakapo2

Best Rated Off The Beaten Path in Akaroa

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    Okain's Bay

    by TheWanderingCamel Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Okains Bay
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    Okains Bay is a popular camping and holiday spot on the eastern side of the Banks Peninsula, just half an hour's drive from Akaroa. It has a beautiful, wide sandy beach that , when we walked along it, a couple of days before Easter, was totally deserted. The water was an incredible blue and the sand absolutely pristine - gorgeous!
    The small township has an important Maori presence with a museum housing a number of treasures including an impressive war canoe. There are also artifacts and displays relating to the early European settlement. Before you leave, take a look at the little wooden Peace Library, built in 1919 to commemorate the end of WWI.

    If you're driving yourself, you can head back up to Summit Road or, if you're feeling a little more adventurous, look for Big Hill Road near the beach and follow it via Camerons and Laverick Roads to the next bay around - Le Bons Bay. The first stretch is a bit rough but it does improve and the views are worth the bumps.

    Le Bons has a safe Sandy Beach and a Backpackers Hostel that is renowned for its excellent facilites, its welcoming hosts and its legenday evening meals.

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    The Eastern Bays

    by TheWanderingCamel Updated Jan 20, 2012

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    The Eastern Bays
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    However you take the time to explore the Eastern Bays of the Banks Peninsula, you'll be well rewarded.
    If your time is limited, or you don't have your own transport, a morning spent with postman Gerry on the Eastern Bays Scenic Mail Run will give you a great introduction to the tranqil bays, small hamlets and wonderful views on offer. With your own car, you could do the same run (around Summit Road and up and down into the different bays) and take time for a beach picnic and some longer stops along the way and still be back in Akaroa in time for dinner.

    More time still? Why not stay at one of the bays? You can choose from a range of accommodation that includes farmstays, B&Bs,backpackers and campsites. It may be possible to make arrangements with the mail run to break your trip if you wish to stay overnight.

    The Peninsula is fantastic walking country and there are several excellent tracks catering for all levels of fitness and enthusiasm. Contact the Akaroa Visitors Centre for more details and information.

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    • Road Trip
    • Hiking and Walking

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    A wee kirk

    by TheWanderingCamel Updated May 13, 2006

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    Ebenezer's kirk
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    The French settlers heading for Akaroa on the Comte de Paris in 1840 took shelter from a storm in Pigeon Bay but no-one was to settle here for a few years until a young Scotsman, Ebenezer Hay and his wife Agnes, arrived in New Zealand in 1840 on the Bengal Queen. By 1843 they had aquired land at Pigeon Bay, one of the Eastern Bays across the Banks Peninsula from Akaroa, where they settled and set about making a life for themselves in their new land. The Hays prospered, the family grew and today there are still many of their descendants living in the area. You'll find a well-polished brass memorial plaque to Ebenezer in the little white church, named for John Knox (the stern critic of Scotland's ill-fated Queen Mary) down the road from the village hall, overlooking the tranquil waters of the bay.
    The church is now part of the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch. Services are held there once a month on the 4th Sunday but it is usually open every day. It has a lovely warm, wooden interior and is clearly well-loved.
    Take a run with the Eastern Bays Mail Run and you'll stop at many letterboxes and farm gates bearing the name of Hay. Ebenezer would be proud.

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    A hidden gem

    by TheWanderingCamel Updated May 15, 2006

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    St Lukes by the sea
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    St Luke's Church, Little Akaloa, is truly a hidden gem. You'll need to walk up the hill from the settlement through a gate and around the hill a bit to find your way to the entrance. If the location is lovely - on a little knoll looking out to sea - the church more than lives up to its setting. The stone walls are a soft, dusky pinky-grey with pieces of paua shell inset to give a pearly gleam - it is just lovely and the interior more than matches the exterior in its attention to detail and fine craftsmanship.
    Built in 1906, much of the work here was done by just one man, John Menzies of nearby Menzies Bay, in the Arts and Crafts tradition that was so prevalent at the time. Beautiful Maori-style wood carving and decoration, paua shell inlays, carving of native flora on the stone font and altar combine under a finely crafted and painted wooden ceiling to create a beautifully harmonious whole - this church has ben described as "the loveliest church on the South Island"

    The church belongs to the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch. Whilst it is open every day, services are only held here on the first Sunday of the month as part of the Outer Bays. rotation.

    Litle Akaloa is one of the Banks Peninsula's Eastern Bays

    Related to:
    • Road Trip
    • Historical Travel

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    Garden of Tane

    by rozehill Updated May 13, 2003

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    Garden of Tane

    It is hoped that as the native trees reach maturity their fruits will attract more birds and the Garden of Tane will become a major seed source for the surrounding hillsides. There are growing specimens of.. Italian Cypress, Pencil Cypress, Scarlet or Pin Oak, Sequoia, Pohutukawa, Lance Wood, Lemon Wood, Mourning Cypress, European Ash, Norfolk Pine, Rimu, Deodar Cedar, Himalayan Dogwood, Spanish Fir, Cedar Atlantis, Eucalyptus Globis, Magnolia Grandi Flora.

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    Langlois-Eteveneaux Cottage

    by rozehill Updated Apr 4, 2003

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    Langlois-Eteveneaux Cottage

    One of the country's oldest houses, the cottage was partly built in France.
    This beautiful cottage, refurbished in the "French style" is the main cause of all the mistaken ideas that Akaroa's architecture is French rather than a local variant of New Zealand colonial. Be that as it may, it is a most attractive little cottage, lovingly restored and forming part an excellent museum. Elements of the French style are that the windows open inwards, the louvered shutters fold over and meet in the middle, and the use of side hung windows. These details have been attributed to Jean-Baptiste Eteveneaux, son of Jean-Pierre and a skilled carpenter, but their origin is still unclear.

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    Wineries

    by rozehill Updated Mar 13, 2003

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    French Farm Winery

    The region has a number of vineyards offering tours and tastings that can be visited from the township. These include Akaroa Winery and the provincial-style French Farm Winery & Restaurant. They offer organised wine tours at these local vineyards.

    Related to:
    • Wine Tasting

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    Giant's House: Best Mosaic Art since Gaudí, Part 1

    by Kakapo2 Updated May 29, 2008

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    Angel and Magician.
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    I have been in Barcelona many times, and what has always attracted me most to this fantastic city is Gaudí's art, all those colourful rounded houses with fantasy chimneys, the Sagrada Familia with its spikey spires, and last but not least, Parque Guell with the witch houses, snake-like seats surrounding squares and the mosaic-covered sculptures.

    I had seen a bit of the mosaic art in the Giant's House's garden in Akaroa on TV and in a magazine but when I finally visited reality exceeded my expectations. The mosaic borders, staircases, benches and sculptures are the most fantastic mosaic art work I have seen since Gaudí - and reminded me of him, although the things this artist named Josie Martin does are very different. She has not designed houses - the Giant's House is in fact rather unaffected in the middle of the wonder garden - but a fantasy garden. But she told me Gaudí has inspired her, and the size of the mosaics is similar, and the colours as striking as Gaudí's.

    The Giant's House was built in 1880 and named by a young girl. When looking up to the house on the hill from the seashore she thought it was so big, it had to be the house of a giant.

    You will also find the name "Linton" in a floor mosaic. From this town in England came the first BNZ manager in Akaroa who built this the house, using precious Kauri and Totara timber.

    Josie Martin bought the house in 1995, not only for its warm feel but also because it offered a lot of wall space for her paintings. Digging the garden, she found old china buried by one of the previous owners. Have a close look at the wide step in front of the house. You will find pieces of this china there. After some work with mosaics her statements became bolder, and she translated historic themes into sculptures and interactive installations. ....

    - cont. Part 2 -

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    • Arts and Culture

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    Banks Pen.: Okains Bay Maori and Colonial Museum

    by Kakapo2 Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    A history-telling wind rose at the Museum.
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    After the long drive from Akaroa, through rural landscape, and up and down the hill, you nearly cannot believe your eyes when you spot this museum on the right side of the road. It is so well presented, and as we always seem to have blue sky and sunshine when we arrive at Okains Bay – ok, ok, we do not start our trip if the forecast is for less perfect weather LOL – the property entrance and the Maori and colonial buildings even look more spectacular. They are perfectly presented, especially the wonderful Maori carvings along the fence (photo 4).

    A visit is as relaxed as you can expect at such a remote place. Normally you try to find someone, so you can pay your entry fee.

    The restored colonial buildings, the museum, the beautifully carved Maori meeting house and food store are located around a central lawn (photo 3). The European buildings include cottages, stables, a print shop, a blacksmith shop, stationary engines and a saddlery.

    In total the collection of Maori and European settlement includes more than 20,000 artefacts. In the museum you can learn a lot about Maori life, from their way of fishing, catching birds (including the terrible snares which killed the huge NZ woodpigeons), life and customs, you see their tools, weapons, clothes, homeware, jewellery, and a big selection of boats. While we were there an old chap came and asked if we had questions. Good service, I think. And if you are interested in birds, there is a huge collections of stuffed animals (photo 5) .

    Open daily 10am – 5pm (except Christmas Day)

    Entry fee $6 (children $2)

    Address: Main Road, Okains Bay, Banks Peninsula

    I split this Museum tip up into several tips because it is not just a small village’s museum but highlights the history of the entire Banks Peninsula.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Museum Visits
    • Road Trip

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    The Giant's House - Part 2 - Stay at the B&B

    by Kakapo2 Updated May 29, 2008

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    The Nosey Parkers - on the way to Magician & Angel

    Part 2

    What fascinates me is that on a nice day you can spend a lot of time sitting in the middle of the sculptural installations, as many of them serve as long winding benches, so you can sit on Adam's lap in the Valley of Butterflies, have a chat with a lot of guys at the "Place des Amis" (Friends' Square), a fabulous arrangement behind the house, at the bottom of a fantastic staircase leading up to Magician and Angel, past the Nosey Parkers (a cat and dog leaning over the fence). You also find gymnasts balancing with balls. And lots more.

    There are so many details to explore that you might walk back and forth and around the house several times. You admire something two or three metres away from you and walk there, and on the way you think: Oh, I am walking over stories on the mosaic staircase! And back you go... ;-)

    At the entrance is a quirky little house where - if you are lucky - the artists welcomes the visitors herself. You get a brochure with a description of the garden and the art work, so you can make your way through the wonderful grounds at your own pace.

    The Giant's House also serves as a B&B, and for functions, weddings and soirées. Open daily, Dec 26-Mar 12pm-4pm, Apr-Dec 24 from 2pm-4pm. Admission $12 (as May 2007).

    Walk or drive up Rue Balguerie (opposite the Info Centre), it is to the right after 600m. I suggest walking as you will never have heard as many bellbirds sing in a township, and NZ woodpigeons flying around. It was like a trip into another world - although we also have bellbirds and fantails in the garden.

    Part 1

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    Banks Peninsula: Okains Bay – The Beach

    by Kakapo2 Updated Jan 25, 2008

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    Access to the beach across the dunes.
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    This has to be one of my favourite spots on Banks Peninsula – but I have a lot of favourite places there LOL

    I have never been there during the school holidays in January but several times during the rest of the year, and it was mostly deserted. Another car or two, sometimes three, at the carpark on the beach, another car at the museum, but not more. If you want to get away from it all, go there or to the next bay, Le Bons Bay. To my taste, they have the most beautiful and remote white sandy beaches of the whole peninsula.

    The beach is white and wide, sheltered by dunes topped by dune grass. You have to walk about 100 metres from the carpark until you reach the beach behind the dunes. The bay itself is limited by East and West Heads. On the western side there is even another beach, called North West Bay, and this one is limited by West Head and Spy Glass Point.

    The recreational reserve is great for swimming and boating. Many people bring their inflatable boats, and float around on lilos. As it is sheltered it is also rather safe for children.

    Right behind the dunes you see some holiday homes. At the western end the Opara Stream flows into the bay. From up the hill (you can drive up there) this looks spectacular, as in sunshine it has the same turquoise-blue water as the bay.

    A new toilet block comes very handy, and camping is allowed.

    Photos 2 and 3 give impressions of the beach.
    Photo 4 is a fabulous aerial view of Okains Bay and the Opara Stream, including the bridge you have to cross to get to the spot from where you can take such photos ;-)

    Directions:
    There are several ways to get to Okains Bay. Coming from Christchurch on SH 75, you can either turn left onto the Tourist Drive at the Hilltop Tavern, and then turn left where Okains Bay is indicated, or carry on until after Duveauchelle, and then turn left where indicated. Finally you can turn to the Tourist Drive shortly before Akaroa (I would do this after a visit to Akaroa on the way back to Chch), indicating “Eastern Bays”.

    Related to:
    • Beaches
    • Water Sports
    • Sailing and Boating

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    Okains Bay Museum (5): Waka Kereru and Maori Life

    by Kakapo2 Updated Jan 25, 2008

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    The Whakaata in beautiful surroundings.
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    This special item – the Waka Kereru – in the Okains Bay Museum - which you see on photo 2 - made me shiver as not in a lifetime I would kill a bird. But if you see it less emotionally it is a primitive but very effective tool of the times when Maori had to be self-sufficient, and it was totally normal to feed on birds that are now strictly protected. Birds like the kereru, the huge native woodpigeon.

    Those bird troughs were partly filled with water and snares placed around the rims, and the troughs then placed on trees up to 20 metres high. When the pigeons fed on the berries of the miro tree they got very thirsty and were pleased to find water right next to them. On the attempt to drink many of them put their heads into the snares and then got strangled, as the water surface was quite a way down, and they had to stretch their necks to reach it. The dead pigeons were plucked and then cooked, then coated in their own fat dripping in the cooking process, and by doing this they could be preserved for up to a year.

    You can find a lot of other – and less tricky – tools and weapons the Maori used in the early days when they survived as hunters and collectors.

    On photo 3 you see baskets for catching all kinds of fish and seafood. The basket in the foreground was for catching crayfish.

    Photo 4 shows the so-called Tini canoe. It was built about 1865 and was used on Lake Wairewa, both with sails and paddles. It is about 7.60 metres long (24 foot, 8 inches), and made of totara wood.

    On photo 5 you see beautiful spears, with typical Maori carvings at the tips, and decorated with a ribbon of feathers.

    Photo 1 shows the Maori store house, the Whakaata.

    General info about the Museum in the introduction tip.

    Directions in the tip about the township.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Museum Visits
    • Arts and Culture

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    Banks Pen.: St. John the Evangelist in Okains Bay

    by Kakapo2 Written Jan 25, 2008

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    The third oldest stone church of the Chch diocese.
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    The foundation stone of St. John the Evangelist in Okains Bay was laid on New Year’s Day 1863, and the church finished on the last day of June 1863 – debt-free ;-) It cost 554 pounds at the time. It is the third-oldest stone church in the diocese of Christchurch.

    This Anglican church is the result of the labour of the first vicar of the parish, Henry Torlesse, who was ordained a deacon in 1859. He was in charge of Okains Bay, Le Bons Bay, Duveauchelle, Little Akaloa, Port Levy and Pigeon Bay.

    The stone for the construction was taken from the creek and the local quarry. The white stone is from Quail Island, in Lyttelton Harbour. The bricks were locally made, and the timber was milled in the bay. The only imported things were the slates and the stained glass from England. The funds for all that were raised from friends in the colony.

    In 1884 an American organ was bought from St. Barnabas in the Christchurch suburb of Fendalton. In 1912 the bell was hung, donated by the then vicar, W.H. Wilkinson.

    In the 1950s the church was in desperate need of repairs. So in 1955 the stonework was reappointed, the walls were tied with steel rods, and also the roof and the bell were repaired. This cost 400 pounds – nearly as much as the whole building a hundred years earlier. In 1959 the floor began to break away and had to be replaced by a concrete floor. The walls were replastered, and the building was painted.

    Opposite the church is the old library building. See on photo 2.

    Directions:
    There are several ways to get to Okains Bay. Coming from Christchurch on SH 75, you can either turn left onto the Tourist Drive at the Hilltop Tavern, and then turn left where Okains Bay is indicated, or carry on until after Duveauchelle, and then turn left where indicated. Finally you can turn to the Tourist Drive shortly before Akaroa (I would do this after a visit to Akaroa on the way back to Chch), indicating “Eastern Bays”.

    When you reach Okains Bay the church is on the left side of the road.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Architecture

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    Banks Peninsula: Okains Bay – The Township

    by Kakapo2 Updated Jun 12, 2008

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    The store provides basic food and drinks.
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    On the way to the fabulous beach you pass the township of Okains Bay. Its number one attraction is the Maori and Colonial Museum which displays historic cottages and collections from the entire Banks Peninsula. That is why most people go there.

    The rest of the village looks like a scene from a very old movie. Somehow prehistoric LOL But at the same time very romantic with its laid-back atmosphere.

    A family makes her living with running the store, the petrol station (on photo 2), and the post office (photo 3). The latter is from the day when we still had the royal mail, and the signs are still on the outside wall, next to an old sofa on the verandah.

    In the store they sell grocieries and frozen food, drinks, some fresh fruit and vegetables, ice-cream and pies which they heat on demand, so you can sit on the benches in front of the store and enjoy your modest meal.

    Next to the store is the petrol station which consists of two pumps for petrol and diesel.

    There is even a public phone in a red royal booth which is in perfect working order – and not only the hiding place of the store people’s young son ;-)

    The gems of the place beside the Maori and Colonial Museum and the wakas which are used on Waitangi Day are the Anglican church St. John the Evangelist, the third oldest stone church in the diocese of Christchurch, and the old library opposite the church. Not a lot more to tell you – just that it is very remote, laid-back, and peaceful.

    Update June 2008
    The owner has given the store to the museum - but the store will keep on operating. The gesture should only underline the historic significance of the store.

    Directions:
    There are several ways to get to Okains Bay. Coming from Christchurch on SH 75, you can either turn left onto the Tourist Drive at the Hilltop Tavern, and then turn left where Okains Bay is indicated, or carry on until after Duveauchelle, and then turn left where indicated. Finally you can turn to the Tourist Drive shortly before Akaroa (I would do this after a visit to Akaroa on the way back to Chch), indicating “Eastern Bays”.

    Related to:
    • Road Trip
    • Beaches
    • Historical Travel

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    Banks Pen.: Okains Bay Museum (2) - Slab Cottage

    by Kakapo2 Written Jan 25, 2008

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    The cottage is made of totara, slabs and shingles.
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    This tiny cottage gives a lovely insight into the modest life of the second generation of settlers on Banks Peninsula.

    It was built in the 1880s by the Jensen brothers from Kaituna Valley (closer to Lyttelton Harbour). The construction materials were totara posts, slabs and shingles.

    The Jensen brothers ran a dairy farm until 1896, making butter and cheese. The land was sold in 1898 and then used as temporary accommodation for seasonal workers. By 1930 it was run down and only used to give shelter to hikers and boy scouts. In 1968 a terrible storm totally wrecked the cottage. After that the remains were given to the Okains Bay Museum. There it was re-erected in its former shape.

    Photos 2 and 3 provide a look inside the cottage.

    General info about the Museum in the introduction tip.

    Directions in the tip about the township.

    Related to:
    • Road Trip
    • Museum Visits
    • Historical Travel

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Akaroa Off The Beaten Path

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