Akaroa on Banks Peninsula

Only Settlement of French Immigrants in New Zealand

Akaroa is a name with Maori roots and carries the meaning of "long harbour". While the Banks Peninsula was given by James Cook who honoured with his choice Joseph Banks the botanist on his ship Endeavour.

The harbour quality started the almost career to become one of French colonies.

The French whaler Captain Jean-Francois Langlois believed in 1838 this an ideal location to service whaling ships. At this time the Parisian street lamps were lit with whale oil. A good reason for about 60 French whaling ships to sail regularly the waters between Australia and New Zealand.


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The Pacific Ocean was yet to be acquainted for French colonization plans. With the North Island in the centre of British and Maori interests the South Island was propelled into the middle of French trading interests. Langlois put his idea straight into action and negotiated a trade with obviously different system of values with the local Maori chief. The agreement was to pay a part immediately and the rest at his return.

Back in France he arranged everything from governmental backup, installing a trading company, and gathering French settlers to inhabit this new colony.

In the end he arrived at his destination. The British already had signed the Treaty of Waitangi including the South Island and the Union Jack was introduced to proclaim British sovereignty.

After the arrival of the French emigrants Langlois managed with tactful diplomacy at least to secure the previously traded land around Bank Peninsula.

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Consequential this earned him recognition in his homeland because the land was sold and resold multiple times before the Captain had returned.

 


 


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Traces of French settlements are still noticeable. The distinct French provincial village feel, street, and inhabitant names close the circle from presence to history.

Here you are invited to visit our resources about France where the local population originates from.

In a distance of 82 km from South Island’s biggest city, Christchurch. Akaroa is a popular destination for day trips and bears the reputation of being well facilitated for extended stays.

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French Akaroa

Today much of the waters around the peninsula are protected in a marine reserve to conserve the smallest of the dolphin species the Hector dolphins. This enables a noticeable eco-tourism industry to offer tours that include swimming with Hectors Dolphins .

Tours start from Christchurch, over a duration of 9 hours. Included is a tour through Akaroa with its whaling history and swimming with dolphins.

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