From the Oceanic Discoverer in New Zealand
Jan 28, 2013 - Oceanic Discoverer
Akaroa Harbour is the gem of Banks Peninsula. The harbour was formed by volcanic action, as is its sister harbour, Lyttleton to the north, which is the major port for the city of Christchurch.
Akaroa Village began its European life in 1838 when the French whaler, Captain Jean-Franqois Langlois, landed on its shores and bought – or so he thought – the entire peninsula from the Maori. Sixty-three settlers set out from France on the Comte de Paris to create a South Seas outpost there. But they arrived too late, only to find the Union Jack of Great Britain flying. Pipped at the post by the English, nevertheless they stayed and even today it still holds to its French origins with street names such as Rue Lavaud, and the charming colonial style predominates and has been protected by town planning rules. Of most note is the Langlois- Eteveneaux House, now fitted-out as a display and part of the Akaroa Museum. The other building of note is the Catholic Church on the Rue Lavaud which the oldest building in anything like its original form. These were both visited by those of us who took the opportunity of a guided historical walk.
Right on its doorstep is the habitat of the rare Hectors Dolphin, New Zealand’s only endemic dolphin. Hectors dolphin Cephalorhynchus hector is the smallest of all dolphins at just 1.5m long, and has a diagnostic round dorsal fin. There are two subspecies: C.h.hector which found around the South Island and the critically endangered Maui dolphin C.h.maui, whose population is estimated at only 150 individuals, all living around the North Island.
Today we all enjoyed not only our chartered trips dolphin-watching but a real treat has been a visit to a working family farm not far from Akaroa that has been in the same family since settlement in the mid-1800s.
The weather could not have been more prefect, with little wind and temperatures in the mid to high 80’s.