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.
Is that not spectacular? Oh wait … it gets better …
It really is that beautiful
So smooth. So rugged. So extinct.
Cliff resident of type “mountain goat”
You got some very special hooves there, buddy
Seal getting its sun on
Another seal lovin’ some sun
Where Akaroa harbour meets the Pacific
Here come some more guests
Dolphins, curious about our boat
Crag resident of type “moo”
A herd of moo
Sharp escarpments on the Pacific side
West side of the entrance to Akaroa harbour
East side of the harbour entrance
Another guest: yellow-eyed penguin
Ship wake. Harbour entrance
Heading back, because the spectacular just don’t stop
A lot of blue action happening here
Final approach and return to wharf
I made the photos above on 16 July 2012. This post appears initially on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins.com as https://wp.me/p1BIdT-26S.