Snippets Of Akaroa and Canterbury History

Crikey, so much for slowing down to smell the roses! We frequently hear people our age, saying they wouldn’t know what to do with themselves if they stopped working. Maybe, if they tried doing less work, they’d discover there are many people close to them to spend time with. And amazing places to see. Then maybe they could imagine work being a lot better at the bottom of their priority list? Rather than the top. But that’s just our opinion, based on our recklessness and desire to live lives to the full. Of course, I’m still finding opportunities to work, but I work to live (because I have to), not the other way around.

We returned to NZAreandare yesterday, Sunday 22nd November, after a terrific two weeks catching up with Jamie in Christchurch, then Rod and Tracy in Wellington. Having got up to date with our last blog, I’ve not found sufficient time since to let you know what we’ve been up to. Hopefully, this week will give us enough ‘down-time’ to do so …

Amazing Akaroa

Last Sunday, 15th November, Jamie kindly drove us to Akaroa. At the southern tip of an incredibly beautiful peninsula close to Christchurch. Oh. My. Goodness. What a stunning place. It’s rather off the beaten track, arrived at via a long, windy, hilly road; but undoubtedly worth visiting. Our only regret is not having more time to absorb its delights. It’ll definitely go onto the list of places to re-visit when we return to the South Island next year for an extended period of exploration.

I read that French settlers arrived a mere five days after the British hoisted their flag in 1840. They stayed anyway, and generations of the first families can still be found there. One of our Gisborne friends, Gary LeBeau, can boast his whanau (family) were some of the first settlers. Sadly nowadays, about 60% of the properties are just holiday homes. One would imagine that winters could feel rather bleak with few folks around.

We were so lucky with the weather throughout our Canterbury stay. In Akaroa we walked slowly along the seafront; people watching and snapping photos (mostly Barry!). We lingered a while for a drink at a bar, then bought chips to eat on a bench by the sea. Barry and I then carried on to the famous lighthouse, with a brief detour for a delicious ice-cream served by a friendly young woman from Cardiff. She was most grateful to be in Akaroa, not south Wales! Jamie walked back to the car with Ewok, then came to find us.

I only took a few photos on our brief stay, mainly because I couldn’t do justice to the location. Check out Barry’s slideshow at the end of this post for a far better collection. He’s even slipped a few into the main body of the post – see if you can recognise which ones they are?!

Edmonds Factory Gardens

After Akaroa, Barry and I went for a stroll around the area where Jamie lives – Woolston. We’d heard on the Tram ride that one of the 740 parks in Christchurch is the Edmonds Factory Gardens. Lo and behold a short distance away, we came upon it!

I’d not heard of Edmonds best-selling cookery books until I lived in New Zealand. Thomas Edmonds arrived from England in 1879, set up a grocer’s shop, and began experimenting with ingredients to make baking powder. His motto became ‘Sure To Rise’ – hence the sunshine images that the Edmonds brand logo showcases.

Check out some of the recipes – https://edmondscooking.co.nz – I’ve got a cookbook on board NBAreandare and often make a ‘slice’ or two.

Sadly, despite a hard fight by the Local Neighbourhood Association and Historic Places Trust, the Edmonds Factory was foolishly demolished in 1990 to make way for a subdivision. How extremely short-sighted and selfish of the person who then owned the site. Fortunately, in 1991, Christchurch City Council bought the remaining subdivision to the west of the site which included gardens planted in the 1960s and 70s. So the history isn’t completely lost to the community and country.

More Catching Up

Whilst in Christchurch, I was eager to catch up with another dear friend I’ve not had a chance to see for many years. Catherine worked as a Midwife in Gisborne for two years about 15 years ago. She’s got an auntie there, who I met when mum and dad visited me in early 2002. It sure is a small world! I suspect in New Zealand there’s a maximum of three degrees of separation, rather than the usually quoted six!

We had a gorgeous get-together at a Linwood cafe called ‘Under The Red Veranda‘. Hopefully, we’ll also see each other again next year.

Canterbury Museum

We’d heard that there’s free entrance to the museum in Christchurch, so took the opportunity last Monday after seeing Catherine, to visit. Unfortunately, our car parking skills weren’t terribly great, so we only had two hours available. We’re conscious of our limited income and the expense of visiting places and socialising, so we’re doing all we can to limit spending. Not always successfully, I might add! Maybe I need to work more … Yes. You’re probably correct! However Barry will be supplementing my income very soon so that’ll help our diminishing coffers.

Anyway, we relished the time we had to look at the fascinating things in the museum. Like most places in New Zealand, there’s a mix of Pacific/Maori history as well as European settlers. I found ‘The Emigrants’ song moving, relating in only a tiny way the feelings of estrangement from family when living in Aotearoa. It must’ve been such a wrench to leave, knowing how unlikely it would be that you’d see again those you left behind.

I’d read in a magazine a while ago about Fred and Myrtle’s ‘Paua shell house’ in Bluff. I adore paua shells; I have done since first arriving 19 years ago and enjoying paua shell hunts on Gisborne’s beaches. Having adorned their home with over 1,000 paua shells, and welcomed over 1 million visitors, the couple died many years ago. The house was sold, but all their paua shells and other collections have fortunately been gifted to the museum by their family in 2008.

There’s a cool collection of Kiwiana including films produced and directed here in New Zealand. I’m sure you’re aware of the amazing Peter Jackson? Sam Neill, originally from the UK, is a famous kiwi actor. You’ll most likely have seen him in Jurassic Park, or The Piano (a brilliant film about the early settlers to NZ!). Watch this clip of a fabulous 1995 portrayal of his journey from England to New Zealand, including his thoughts on Christchurch. It gives a fascinating insight:

Dissapointingly we didn’t notice the ‘Bird Hall‘ till it was almost too late. Our two-hour car park ticket was running out and we didn’t want Jamie to recieve a parking ticket! Yet annother place to return to in 2021.

Saying Haere Ra For Now

On Monday evening, we took Jamie and Nate out to dinner. Their choice of venue was a bar called ‘Pomeroys Old Brewery Inn‘ – supposedly modelled on a British Pub. A quaint and welcoming place, one of many around New Zealand serving craft beer much to Barry’s delight.

After dinner, we found another venue – for a pub quiz. Between the four of us, we didn’t do too badly – actually we were pretty shambolic! Not great, but they had a fun method of awarding prizes. First, second, then two random places. We got a $30 bar tab for coming 13th out of 16 teams. After announcing the places that would get the prizes a few rounds before the end, Barry thought we might get the 6th place! In your dreams Barry 😉

On Tuesday morning, Jamie gave us a lift to the train station, bright and early, ready for our next leg and location.

A Great Train Journey

At 7 am on Tuesday 17th November, we joined the Coastal Pacific train to Picton. There are only three ‘great train journeys’ in New Zealand. This one. The Trans Alpine. And the Northern Explorer.

We’ll tell you more about this one in the next post. Including a whole host of friends and family connections and new adventures awaiting in Wellington …

Barry’s Slideshow

In the meantime, here’s more brilliance from Barry’s perspective of these experiences. To get the most out of them, click the first image to open up the slideshow:

9 thoughts on “Snippets Of Akaroa and Canterbury History

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  3. Akaroa is wonderful. We’ve been twice and both times it was humming as there was a cruise ship in and there were hordes of visitors but yes, I bet it’s pretty quiet in winter. Some of the prices seem to reflect the fact that it’s very much a tourist attraction.

    • Indeed. Lots of places we’re visiting are missing the cruise passengers. However there’s heaps of kiwis travelling their own back yard now so tourism isn’t doing too badly. And campervan/motorhome travellers are in abundance.

      We find the cost of living here really steep. GST on food doesn’t help!

      • Especially fresh meat and fish, which we always thought were more expensive than they should have been. We loved the Gizzy Saturday morning market for vegetables and fruit. So glad to hear you’re having such a great time. x

        • Absolutely – I buy a small pack of meat and halve it. Means we eat less which can only be a good thing.

          And I love the Farmers Market too though again it’s not cheap 😂. However, in the plus side, the food here is fresh, seasonal and tastes bloody great 👍

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