Exploring Akaroa: The French Capital of New Zealand
Little blue penguins, Hector’s dolphins, New Zealand fur seals, albatross, terns, shags, petrels… Every day since arriving in Akaroa, we have seen a part of its wild side. The waters are teaming out there! If we see another dolphin, we swear to God… The lure of the ocean has sort of distracted us from the town itself, the town that they call “The French Capital of New Zealand”, as you do. For our final (or maybe not so final…) day in Akaroa, we are going to explore the town and find the “giant”.
Come on, Akaroa, show us your French flare!
Finding it a little easier to park our Jucy car than previous days, it’s clear that the boom of the Christmas and New Year period is starting to wear off. Without much of a plan, we start to wander around Akaroa. The “Frenchiness” of the town is hard to miss. Street signs are in French, French flags hang off cafes, the names of shops and restaurants are also in French. Some businesses have really taken the French name seriously, such as “L’Escergot Rouge”, while others seem to be taking the easy route with “Le Mini Golf” and “Le Thai”.
God save the lighthouse!
After finding a few fun sculptures around town, (the painter and frame sculpture just begs for photo opportunities), we head towards the Akaroa Lighthouse. It’s in a bit of an ineffective location, just a 10-minute walk from town, which is nestled inside the Akaroa Harbour, but it turns out that a bunch of lighthouse enthusiasts saved the lighthouse that once stood at Akaroa Head. When it was threatened to be demolished, they brought the lighthouse to Akaroa as just another pretty thing to look at. Hurray! To reward their efforts, we, like many others, walk up to the lighthouse, take a few photos, and enjoy the views of bobbing yachts and town.
Cheese in the garden
With all these Frenchy names and exotic-sounding restaurants, we possibly do the most Frenchy thing possible in New Zealand’s Frenchest town: eat some cheese.
A musician plays some easy-listening covers on guitar in the vibrant garden of the Brassiere. Each section of tables are surrounded by colourful lilies, sunflowers and other flowers that we, quite frankly, don’t know to name of.
The time has come
Joined by a couple of locals, we eat cheese and try to make a plan on what the we are going to do while our campervan is getting fixed in Christchurch. Although we are pretty bummed about our office, home and vehicle being out of action for a while, it’s a bittersweet scenario. Thankfully, just like the guys at Pohatu Penguins who have been lending us their sleepout for the last six days, there are some super kind people here in Akaroa who may just be able to help us with accommodation while our van is being fixed. That means we can spend more time in this awesome place. And YES, there are heaps more activities to do here! Just watch this space…
So for our last day before taking a break from 365 Days: 365 Activites, the locals have recommended that we also check out “The Giant’s House”. They don’t have any way to describe the place, saying: “Go. Just go.” Well, that works for us.
Gabbing in the gardens
The Giants House
The Giants House is a little up the hill in Akaroa along a residential street. At first, it seems like we are about to wander into somebody’s back garden, but with music playing, a house painted in various pastel colours, and the heads of mosaic sculptures popping up from behind the bushes, we think this is going to be a pretty weird and wonderful back garden.
Joining the band
A lady at a stand takes our fee then we wander right into the middle of a mosaic band playing some French music. There’s one band member missing from the group, and that’s at the empty chair at the piano! We’ll sort out their sorry situation…
Flowers and mosaic steps lead to a super blue water fountain made out of, you guessed it, mosaic! (Ok, the whole place is a mosaic). The gardens wind uphill to behind the back of the colourful wooden house with various different routes to get there. You can walk under mirrored arches, to hidden seating areas, past veggie patches… Right at the top of the garden, we pass some animal sculptures representing the five senses. We have to admit, we do enjoy sitting at a mosaic throne overlooking our minions in the garden.
Is there something you missed? Likely!
The Giants House is a place where you can walk around once quite quickly, so it’s worth going round two or three times to take a route you may have missed or discover some details you might have missed. This place is all in the details!
One detail you don’t want to miss in a bridge around the back of the house leading into a mini art gallery. Here, the works of Josie Martin, the creator of The Giants House, are on display, as well as documentary playing about the artist.
After seeing possibly the most whacky and wonderful garden we’ll ever see, we head back for our final night with the Pohatu guys and get ready for a day of rushing about like crazy trying to find someone to fix our camper in Christchurch. If that doesn’t count as an awesome activity in New Zealand, then what will?! (Nah, jokes, we always find something fun to do). See you tomorrow!
Our mosaic throne at the Giant's House
Our mosaic throne at the Giant's House
Spherical Image - RICOH THETA
Our mosaic throne at the Giant's House Spherical Image - RICOH THETA
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See you tomorrow!