Friday, October 7, 2011

New Zealand Day 9 Part 1 : Akaroa

Day 9 : Wednesday, 14 September 2011

We checked out early that day from City Central Motel. The plan was to take a detour to Akaroa, before driving to Lake Tekapo. The journey to Akaroa from Christchurch is about 90km which takes about an hour, while driving to Lake Tekapo from Akaroa will take approximately 4 hour within the distance of about 300km, so basically we had a long drive to go and had to start early.

Our first stop was at Little River, a small settlement located between Christchurch and Akaroa. For those who love arts stuffs, Little River will be a perfect stop as it has art gallery just next to the main road. I was browsing the prices of the painting.. it costs from NZD1k to NZD5k.. opps! That's definitely not within our budget. Little River also has a couple of cafes so it will be a good stop if we want to just take a coffee break.

The drive from Christchurch to Little River was quite smooth as it is at sea level, but after Little River, I noticed the road started to become hilly and it was quite steep, until we reached the hilltop where there's lookout point to see the valley.

The view from the hill top was refreshingly beautiful, it is kind of nice to see civilisation down there from up the hill. The combination of the greenery, deep blue from the sea and the hill around it is simply beautiful.

Akaroa simply means 'Long Harbor', the name perhaps taken based on its logistic. The French established a settlement in Akaroa in 1840, and to this date there's still a lot of visible French influence in Akaroa - that includes streets name and building name. The moment we set our foot in the heart of Akaroa, it is obvious that this is a retirement town. The town centre is so peaceful, and I particularly like its cinema which looks like a normal shop lot. Akaroa's population is just about 500, and about 30% of them are over 65yrs - kind of too many for a small town isn't it?

We can also see some French flags displayed outside some of the building within the town centre. We stopped by at Fire & Ice, a place where they sold their own handmade paua shell and paua pearl based jewelery items. Paua is a type of edible shellfish which can be found in New Zealand, where its beautiful shell (after being cleaned) are widely used to make jeweleries. We can find paua sheall-based items sold almost all gift shops, but the ones sold in Fire & Ice are of a better quality with plated with silver or gold. The price, is of course much higher than the one we can get in the normal gift shop. We just bought a small pendant made of gold, paua shell and paua pearl for Mr D's daughter. It costs about NZD95.

Akaroa's speciality is its nature, and the kind of activities we can do there are also nature-related. Apart from the beautiful scenery, we can also board the Akaroa Nature Harbor Cruise where visitors will be cruising around the extinct volcanic crater, and at the same time enjoy the wildlife especially the Hector's dolphin and penguin. There's also swimming with dolphin cruise, but we can't board both of it as it was closed that day.

But at the place where we can book the black cat nature and swimming with dolphin cruise, we can also find a gift shop, but I can say that it is not the cheapest we see, I saw cheaper of the same thing in Te Anau and Queenstown later. But we did bought some more paua jeweleries for the girls back home, but this time a much cheaper version which cost somewhere in the region of NZD10 to NZD30.

Akaroa town is not big, but it is so quiet and peaceful. We spent some times walking around the town, observing the locals and also searching for what we can buy.

It was already 1pm by the time we finished with walking around town, so we decided to just have lunch at a seafood restaurant. I ordered tomyam soup set, which was served with rice, while Mr D settled with fish and chips. One thing we have to remember about buying fish and chips in countries like New Zealand, is the possibility of the batter being mixed with beer, and the possibility of fat being used as the frying medium. So be careful selecting your fish and chips.

The fish and chips was OK, the tomyam was OK.. the tomyam was filled with mussels, fish, prawn and some squid, not hot, more like a sour soup kind of taste. I completed my meal with a cup of hot blackcurrent, and that became my favorite hot drink nowadays. I don't really fancy coffee and tea, so if there's blackcurrent as an alternative when Mr D wanted to stop for coffee break that will be good.

When we head back to the place where we parked our car, we found Akaroa Woolshed. This gallery sells many wool items and some can be very interesting. I particularly love a sheep skin shoe which can be used in the house, suitable for the rainy days when it can be quite cold and we don't want to have contact with the floor. I straight away remember my mother, and thought to buy that for her as her feet can sometimes be very cold. It costs NZD79 per pair. There are also cute baby items, but some are not suitable to be brought back to Malaysia.

What I can say about Akaroa is it is beautiful, it is peaceful, and it is a place to relax. Not surprising, as old citizen make up the huge portion of the population. Wonder how the life like in here...

Next : Off to Lake Tekapo


  1. cantik cantik betul gambar, buat teringin nak pi NZ satu hari nanti... jangan lupa tempek lebih banyak gambar nanti yea...

  2. Farha, nanti next trip plan ke NZ pulak.. my camera ni jenis murah, it doesn't do justice to the actual beauty.. kalo camera farha yg ambil gambar mesti jadi lagi cantik nanti :)