When you think of the connection between France and New Zealand, nowhere says it more than beautiful Akaroa. Your French Akaroa experience will immerse you in the History and beauty of Akaroa, you’ll meet French Kiwi’s living in the region and bringing French cuisine to NZ, along with sampling terrific French style wine and cheese.
Pick up in Christchurch by your French driver guide (English speaking)
Drive to Akaroa (1hr40 – 90km) via scenic drive.
In the 1830s approximately 60 French whaling ships were making regular journeys between France and New Zealand for the profitable whaling trade. To further solidify the access to whaling in the South Island, French whaler Langlois and his friend Le Lievre felt that Akaroa would make an excellent French base, and began forming plans to colonise Banks Peninsula for France. He held negotiations with 12 Ngai-Tahu Māori chiefs from Port Cooper, obtaining signatures from them all, therefore believing then that he had bought the majority of Banks Peninsula.
The deed he put in place dated 2nd August 1838, is understood to state that the land was bought from the Māori for a deposit of 150 French francs in goods. The remainder of the total price was to be settled on Langlois’ return to take possession of the land.
In 1840, 64 French and German settlers arrived at Akaroa after enduring many months at sea, only to see the Union Jack flying on Green Point. New Zealand had just been annexed under the Treaty of Waitangi by the British. The French & German settlers were offered the opportunity to stay on in Akaroa to live under British rule, and on realisation that the dream of a French colony in New Zealand was gone, they agreed.
Once arrived in Akaroa. Visit Akaroa Museum. The Akaroa Museum collections are focused primarily on the human history of the Banks Peninsula area.
The collections are extremely varied, including taonga Maori, artefacts from the first French, German and English settlers, objects associated with the whaling industry and a large costume collection. Thousands of photographs form a valuable resource and many are available for viewing by visitors.
Local history is preserved in the form of archives and records of families and organisations. A complete run of the Akaroa Mail newspapers, from 1876 to the present day, is available for research. Access to a reference library focused on local and family histories is also available by appointment.
Then, visit of the Cemetery
When Bishop Pompallier, a Frenchman, visited his compatriots in Akaroa before the end of 1840, he consecrated this ground as a cemetery. It is thought that over the next few decades some 80 people were buried in the cemetery.
In the 1850s and 1860s, public cemeteries were opened at the other end of town (see Town Cemeteries), and the number of burials declined, but people with family members already interred in the French Cemetery were buried there possibly as late as 1880. The disused cemetery then fell into disrepair and became overgrown. The wooden crosses that marked the early graves disappeared, but metal plaques mounted on two of them survive.
In 1925, the overgrown cemetery was cleared and the surrounding concrete wall and central memorial were erected. The names of people known to have been buried in the cemetery were inscribed on the memorial, though the list is probably not complete or entirely accurate. Now surrounded by fine old trees and attractively planted, the cemetery is a calm, restful place.
Group will enjoy French crepes for lunch. One savoury and one sweet. This business is run by a French Lady named Elise.
Then visit French Peak Winery and wine tasting. The group will also have the opportunity to taste some cheese from Barrys Bay Cheese and buy some cheese at the store after the wine tasting.
French Peak is a 3.5 hectares Boutique Vineyard located in the centre of an ancient volcano, on the shore of Akaroa harbour, Banks Peninsula.
Run organically and Biodynamically by French Vigneron, Renan Cataliotti, to respect the soil and craft the best Pinot noir, Chardonnay, Pinot gris and Rosé from our very unique and special terroir.
If the group want to buy some cheese after the tasting, the driver/guide would be more than happy to stop at the cheesery.
At Barrys Bay Cheese, the milk comes from local, grass-fed cows. They don’t know their names, but they know where they live. Sourcing their most important ingredient from a single farm in the same geographic area is one of the ways they ensure that every piece of their cheese tastes as good as the last. Being so close to the source of their most important ingredient also has implications for their cheese. Not many people know this, but milk doesn’t like being jiggled about inside a milk tanker. So the less time it spends on the road, the better. By minimising the travel time from the farm to our factory, they do their best to preserve the unique flavour profile of the local milk that gives Barrys Bay cheese its distinctive taste.
Around 5.30 pm
Drive back to Christchurch