There are larger war memorials in New Zealand, and higher ones, and, of course, also more important ones. But you will not find a lot of more beautiful ones and in a lovlier setting than the one in Akaroa.
The foundation stone was laid on 31 March 1922 on the site of the former Akaroa Borough School, and it was unveiled on 12 March 1924.
The memorial is a Gothic pavillion, designed by H. St. A. Murray. You can see it from afar as it is crowned by an obelisk-like kind of spire which has a cross at the top.
On several panels you find the names of the men from Banks Peninsula who died in the South African War and First World War; the names of those who fell in World War II were later added.
A beautiful garden surrounds the memorial, sheltered by a high hedge, with lots of roses on the manicured lawn and four spectacular established palm trees.
The location is beside the Visitor Centre in Rue Lavaud.
Update November 2012
The War Memorial has been slightly damaged in the earthquakes. It is fenced off but you can still sit on the lawn and seats of the garden that surrounds it.
That’s a truly lovely building you cannot miss, located at the end of the beach and the start of the promenade (103 Rue Jolie), just across the street from the bakery.
However, the Coronation Library is not really in use anymore after a combined school and public library has opened next to the school at the corner of Rue Jolie and Selwyn Avenue, just further down Rue Jolie, and then to the right.
The Coronation Library building opened on 22 May 1875. It got its new frontage in 1911, giving it an Arts and Crafts/English Domestic Revival look – well, I read this detailed description on the Civic Trust website ;-)
The Library was erected to house the Literacy Institute that had formed in 1863. With the renovation in 1911 also came the name change into Akaroa Coronation Library, referring to the coronation of King George V.
This building has also been closed after the earthquakes, like so many other buildings that were not badly damaged but considered unsafe because their strength is significantly under the new building code. Be assured, the Coronation Library is as beautiful as ever from the outside - and you will have a look at it one hundred per cent!
Akaroa's Museum has been considered unsafe quite a while after the earthquakes and is now closed. The collections are in a safe place until its reopening.
“Musée très intéressant”, they write on their sign on the footpath. Ok, the accent on the “très” is the wrong way round, d’aigu instead of grave, but the French is close to perfect. And as it is just funny, it does not matter – as they also claim that Akaroa’s small museum is better than Te Papa. This probably explains why you have to pay a NZ$ 4 entry fee, and Te Papa is free ;-)
The Akaroa Museum focuses particularly on the history of Akaroa and Banks Peninsula. They show a 20 min film on Akaroa's history. Exhibitions are changing. Museum shop.
The Langlois-Etéveneaux House, one of the oldest in the South Island, the Court House, and the Custom House (1852) at Daly Wharf are also part of the museum.
• Summer (Nov - April): 10.30am - 4.30pm
• Winter (May - Oct): 10.30am - 4pm
• Adults $ 4, children $ 1.
Update May 2011 - Update Nov. 2012
The Duvauchelle Hotel was badly damaged in the earthquake that rocked Canterbury on 4 September 2010. Parts of it have been demolished just now. They will rebuild and hope to be up and running again by Christmas.
... which was a nice dream. Another Christmas is looming and there is no sign of any building activity.
The Duvauchelle Hotel at the northern tip of Akaroa Harbour, right on SH 75, about 10 km from Akaroa, is said to be the oldest one in the country.
The hotel is named after the settlement, and the settlement was named by two French brothers named Duvauchelle in 1840, after the arrival of the French ship “Comte de Paris”.
The hotel was built by François Lelièvre at some time before 1850. It had frequently changing names, starting as the “Travellers Rest”, and later (among many other names) “The Somerset”, “Hotel des Pêcheurs”, etc. In 1971 the then publican named it “Robbers Return” as the guests were always complaining he was robbing them.
The family of the owner who ran the hotel from 1861 to 1874 (Ben Shadbolt) are still running the farm across the road.
In the hotel flyer I read a funny detail about what publicans had to sign to get a license. For example, to supply accommodation, water and oats for at least two horses, to be sworn in and act as constable, and to keep a safe boat to ferry passengers to Akaroa. Try to get one of those flyers in the hotel, they contain a lot of interesting historic photos and information. The website (www.duvauchellehotel.co.nz) does not work at the moment (end May 2008), the account has been closed – perhaps they have not paid their fees… ;-) But I can assure you, the hotel and pub are open ;-)
You cannot miss the hotel. It is right on SH 75, on the right side if coming from Christchurch. A huge kiwi (bird) sculpture with a chef’s hat on the head is in front of the verandah.
You get several kinds of accommodation at this hotel. First of all they have ten fully self-contained motel units (with kitchenettes) off the street, with panoramic views of the bay.
Across the street are backpackers units ($ 25 pp) for which you get the key at the hotel.
The hotel has a main bar, lounge bar and huge garden bar plus a separate restaurant for private functions. They also have tables and benches on the verandah. When we sat there in the sunshine we were entertained by fantails chasing insects under the roof.
The interior is really fantastic, reminding of the early days of the pioneers.
They advertise to have the finest and biggest meals on the peninsula (see on photo 2). The latter might be true, but I have problems to agree on “finest”. My husband’s wedges were really dark and not crisp, and my creamy bacon pasta contained cream and pasta, and probably also bacon but that tasted more like ham. The onions were more boiled than glazed and swam in the liquid cream, and unfortunately also in sugar. Either they had used sugar instead of salt, so it could have been an accident. If I want to eat something as sweet as this I normally order a cake or icecream… The service though, was very friendly, and we enjoyed our drinks and the nice atmosphere. Perhaps we should stick to Akaroa salmon and T-Bone Steak with prawns – but we wanted something simple for lunch and not a full meal.
On photo 2 you can see the food.
Update Nov. 2012
Nearly two years after the first big earthquake the Christchurch city council's engineers have found out that the old post office building is unsafe, therefore it was closed - and with it the visitor centre. This has been temporarily relocated to 120 Rue Jolie (corner with Selwyn Ave). It is easy to find. Rue Lavaud (which is the main road coming into Akaroa) becomes Rue Jolie at the point where you would turn right into the promenade (which is one-way traffic in the opposite direction anyway).
Almost certainly you will have a look at Akaroa’s former Post Office as it is now home to the Visitor Centre. It is located in 78 Rue Lavaud, the main street, opposite the (no more striking...) Langlois-Etéveneaux House, Akaroa’s oldest private home, and the Bank of New Zealand building.
The first post office was built at the site of the present building in 1856. It was a single-storey wooden building. It was replaced by the present building in 1915. Like the Coronation Library, it was influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement. This is a rarity for post offices built in this era, as those were mostly in the much more dominant Edwardian style. This one blends much better into Akaroa’s architecture.
It ceased serving as a post office in 1993 when it was sold by NZ Post. After that it has housed the Council Service Centre and the information centre.
The “Place de la Poste” named little square beside the building reminds of the original purpose – just where the Charles Meryon statue is standing.
You can book all kinds of activities at the Information Centre if you do not want to do it beforehand on the internet. In the peak season it is well advisable to book in advance, as Akaroa can be very crowded, and some activities (swimming with dolphins, penguin watching) do not accommodate big groups.
Daily 9am - 5pm
The little harbourside town of Akaroa has a bit to offer the visitor. Cruises on the harbour to see dolphins and penguins are popular as is a walk to see the historic lighthouse. There are many wlaks and hikes through the surrounding hills.
For those who are not so active why not get pampered at one of the spas and then stroll among the colonial buildings and dine at one of the many cafes and restaurants.
The shopping is good here - especially Blue Pearl jewelry.
The Fox II is a red-sailed beauty - the oldest gaffed rigged ketch in New Zealand. Built in Auckland in 1922, her home port nowadays is Akaroa, and an afternoon in her company spent exploring the harbour is a fantastic experience. Whether you choose to actively crew or simply sit back and enjoy the peace and quiet of cruising under sail, it's a great way to see the harbour, learn some of its history and meet some of the wildlife that inhabit this lovely place.
As the ketch makes its way right out through the headland to open sea, the skipper tells stories of the history of the Harbour, both Maori and Pakeha. Sailing close to shore in places, the cruise takes you past interesting natural and historical features such as the extraordinary rock formations that tell of the harbour's volcanic origins, the Maori village of Ônuku - a place of great significance to the Maori of the South Island and Greenpoint where, following the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, the Britiish raised the Union flag prior to the arrival of the French settlers who arrived soon after.
Throughout the months of summer (October to May) the Harbour is home to Hectors dolphins - the smallest of all the species. It's a rare cruise that doesn't get good sightings of these delightful creatures as the slower speed and quieter atmosphere means they will usually approach quite closely and even swim alongside. You'll need to be quicker with your camera than I was though to get a photo.
The seals are more obliging. The rocky shore on the north side of the harbour is home to a couple of colonies and, again, as the quiet approach doesn't disturb them, you can get really good sightings.
This was just the nicest way to spend a morning!
The Eastern Bays Scenic Mail Run delivers not only the mail and the morning newspapers to the little hamlets and isolated farmhouses of the Outer Bays of the Banks Peninsula - it also delivers a unique opportunity for visitors to ride with the mailman over some 120kms of backroads, down steep hills into 10 of the peninsula's beautiful little bays and up to the highest points of the crater's crest with spectacular views all the way - including a marvellously panoramic view of both sides of the peninsula from a height of 2000m
Leaving from the Post Office promptly at 9am, the trip takes about 4 and a half hours. Along the way you'll have time to visit little churches, walk along quiet sandy beaches, stop at scenic viewpoints and enjoy a delicious morning tea break. Gerry Trott, the mailman, was a mine of information about the history and personalities of the area and the morning was a real highlight of our Akaroa holiday. Don't miss it!
2012 Update Gerry has retired but the mail run is still operating. All the details can be found here
The mail bus can carry eight passengers, and is very popular, so booking is advisable.
Reservations may be made through the AkaroaInformation Centre (03) 304 8600 or direct with the new operators, Robin and Jo (03) 304 8526 between 5.00pm and 7.00pm.
As mentioned in a general tip about the French street signs in Akaroa, the worst thing about Duvauchelle is the pronounciation. If you pronounce it correctly in French nobody understands you, so just say “Du-wot-shelley”, with the stress on the second syllable, if you want locals to know that you are talking about their place. (Ah, and many also love to add an –s at the end, so you get “Duvauchelles”… or: “Du-wot-shelleys”. Just be prepared for the worst case LOL)
Adding to the linguistic torture is the fact that the two French brothers the tiny township is named after never took residence. They bought the land from the Nanto-Bordelaise Society but somehow never made it to the place. Instead, they settled in Akaroa.
Duvauchelle is the perfect starting point to explore Onawe Peninsula, this thinnish piece of land reaching far out into Akaroa Harbour, separating the head of the harbour into Barrys Bay on one and Duvauchelle and Robinsons Bay on the other side (permit needed; info in Onawe tip). And it is only a short drive to French Farm which is well-known for its good food and wine. Since the Duvauchelle Store & Bistro has reopened it is highly praised for its fantastic food.
(Update 8 August 2008: At the moment the Bistro is only open on Thu, Fri and Sat nights, and Sun + Mon from 10am to 5pm. Phone 03 - 304 5807)
A good choice of accommodation, with the Duvauchelle Hotel being the biggest provider, offering hotel, motels, and backpacker accommodation. There is also a campground, the Duvauchelle Reserve Motor Camp (Seafield Road, phone 03 304-5777), as well as some holiday homes. Check here: http://www.holidayhouses.co.nz/Duvauchelle.asp
Update May 2011
The Duvauchelle Hotel has been badly damaged in the earthquake on 4 September 2010. It has been now partly demolished. The publican says they hope they will be up and running again by Christmas 2011.
Banks Peninsula forms the most prominent volcanic feature of the South Island. As Akaroa stands on the heart of this former volcano that existed in ancient times, this town is a main gateway to this peninsula, apart from Christchurch & Lyttleton, which is spectacular! It has an area of approximately 1,150 square kilometres (440 sq mi) and encompasses two large harbours and many smaller bays and coves. Crhistchurch is within north of this peninsula.
This is a pleasant way to enjoy the town as it has loads of scenic views and to breathe in the fresh air around as there were mot many cars around here! So we had a truly fabulous time! All for free too!
We decided to join a walking tour of this town to learn more about its history and we were glad we did! It was a fascinating way to see the place and at the same time get more insights from a local on how the settlers started in this town.
The whole family's interested in history and is grateful for the chance to do engage in this field so through this cruise. It has been one of our trip's highlights for us! We also got acquainted with NEw Zealand native plants and wildlife as taught to us by our able tour guide who's lived in this town for decades.
We reached this port via tenders from our cruise ship, It took a while but it was worth the wait as we were greeted with sweeping views as the town was surrounded by picturesque hills and beaches. It also has a lot of history being a former whaling town settled in by the French in the 1880's.
It was a lovely day, still sunny though windy and we chanced upon a vendor selling "gelato" Italian style but made from NEw Zealand products of course! At NZ$3.50 , it was a steal, tasty and creamy! I had pistacchio & the boys berry and chocolate. We were happy!
We did a walking tour of Akaroa where we visited a few period homes with fascinating decor and architecture typical of the 1800's. The combination of white paint and other pastel shades blend well with the picturesque town surrounded by rolling green hills and lovely beaches!
The homes were built by the early French settlers to the town who engaged in whaling during the 1880's. They came from France but never really colonised the place as the British already laid claim to NEw Zealand when they first arrived in this seaside town. But the homes they produced were fortunately well-preserved and are now a tourist attraction in this place. We're glad we took the walking tour and learned a lot!