Fotoeins Fotografie

questions of place & home

Posts tagged ‘Banks Peninsula’

New Zealand: Akaroa’s long harbour

Above: Black Cat catamaran.

It’s a cool grey morning in Christchurch, and I’m waiting outside the Canterbury Museum for a ride to Akaroa. Will the conditions improve by the time I arrive?

I’ve signed up with French Connection for the shuttle between Christchurch to Akaroa along State Highway 75. As the bus rolls onto the Banks Peninsula, the undulating hills gently rise and fall around the entire horizon. Some of the secluded bays and harbours look steep enough to have been carved by mini-glaciers. It makes a lot of sense, as Akaroa means “long harbour” in Kāi Tahu Māori.

It’s easy to forget Akaroa has French history and roots, but I realize I’m standing on top of an extinct volcano which last saw activity about 6 million years ago. Over time, weather eroded and gradually removed the top layers of the volcano. The post-glacial meltdown about 15,000 years ago saw the sea-levels rise and subsequently inundated the former caldera. It’s not the only extinct volcano around, as the nearby Lyttleton harbour was formed in a similar way.

I decide to go with a nature cruise on Black Cat cruises, and the catamaran heads out with six passengers and two crew. Within 30 minutes of leaving the dock in Akaroa, the skies clear as the breeze breaks and moves the clouds aside. Finally, in the open waters of the Pacific, the boat bobs gently in the light swell.

It’s a perfect sunny winter day, complete with the appearance of a pod of Hector’s dolphins and a couple of yellow-eyed penguins (hoiho).

But all too quickly, the cruise returns to the calm waters of the inner harbour, and the ship comes to a halt back in Akaroa. I’ll doze on the ride back to Christchurch, with lingering memories of the former volcano, and the dolphins who said hello to us earlier in the day.

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New Zealand: la petite ville française de Akaroa

Akaroa is a small, quiet, charming town with colonial-architecture of both English and French stylings. Located about midway down the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island, Akaroa can be reached by car from Christchurch in about an hour. For many, the trip will definitely take longer with required stops in Birdings Flat, Little River, Hilltop, and Duvauchelle.

In the race to claim sovereignty over New Zealand (even though the Maori were present for much longer), Akaroa was claimed by both English and French in 1840. Upon their arrival on the ship Britomart, the English won the “claims race” by a couple of weeks (or a couple of years, depending upon the definition of “claim”).

However, the French influence remains strong on this side of the planet. Even if the antipode to Akaroa lies near France, you’ll see from the photos below that the signs do not lie and help keep alive the spirit of the little French town or “la petite ville française”.

It doesn’t stop with just European history. A daytrip to Akaroa isn’t complete with a trip out into the harbour.

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At Akaroa to surpass 40,000 clicks

In Christchurch, New Zealand yesterday (15 July 2012), the warmest winter day ever in recorded history saw the maximum temperature reach +23C/73F : it was absolutely glorious.

Because of this, I went out the following day to Akaroa (Maori for “long harbour”), also known as the Banks Peninsula. I purchased a two-hour ride on a boat out into the harbour and into the Pacific. The clouds cleared; the skies were wide, clear, and blue; and the seas were relatively calm.

And there were Hector’s Dolphins to be seen, a pod of at least six.

And oh yes, I crushed the 40,000th exposure on my camera.

Akaroa, Banks Peninsula, South Island, New Zealand

Late-afternoon from the main wharf in Akaroa

And if winter’s like this, I have nothing about which to complain, and for which I have every reason to be grateful.

This post first appeared as a status update on my Facebook Page, and now appears here on Fotoeins Fotopress (fotoeins.com).

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