Akaroa and its History
Akaroa is a truly magical place where you can be as active or as relaxed as you choose to be. There is a wealth of things to do and see here in one of New Zealand's most scenic hidden gems.....or, you can just sit back and relax and watch the world go by, at Maison de la Mer.
Akaroa has a colourful history - first as a whaling outpost in the early 1800's, which inspired the French whalers to negotiate a land purchase from the local Maori tribe in the late 1830's. This led to a planned French settlement in Akaroa, which had the formal backing of the French government, then very active, and expansionary, in the South Pacific.
Fifty eight French settlers arrived in Akaroa aboard "Le Comte de Paris" in August 1840, along with" L'Aube", a French naval frigate, only to be met by the British who had arrived 10 days earlier to protect British sovereignty established in the Treaty of Waitangi with all New Zealand Maori just a few months earlier in February 1840.The French settlers were assured that their land purchases would be honoured, but under the British flag. Un-deterred, they settled in today's Akaroa, and farmed the surrounding hills and valleys. Many of the original families that settled here have Akaroa Streets named after them. French settlement is honoured every year with a French Festival - "Frenchfest". Part of the French Festival is the re-enactment of the landing of the French settlers in Akaroa. The antique ketch "Fox 11" brings in descendants of the original families to shore in period dress, with placards showing their family names, along to the tunes of our local brass band. It is quite a spectacle!
Much of this early history is documented in the Akaroa Museum, just along from Maison de la Mer on Rue Lavaud, and also in the unique museum at Okains Bay, which in addition to an early settler's museum, has a fabulous Maori artifacts museum - both of which are well worth a special visit.Akaroa has a small cache of specialty boutiques, and galleries to entice you. There are a several artisan jewellers in the village using the locally farmed blue pearls from the local Paua (Abalone). If the French theme is your thing, then La Folie Jolie is for you, with direct imported specialities form France. Looking for fine linens and gifts, then Tully House Linens is worth a visit. There are many more gift and craft stores all around the village.