Akaroa is a small town that is steeped in history. Two distinct histories in fact. British and French.
The French went very close to being masters of New Zealand and Australia and only time, fate and distance prevented what might have been. But Akaroa is that example on how close the French influences might have been. Akaroa for nearly two generations was a French settlement.
Akaroa is a magic place; history, views and activities are now the hallmark of a very active tourist business. Akaroa is very dependent on good weather to be able to show itself off. Great weather a great location.
Set on a beautiful, sheltered harbour and overlooked by craggy volcanic hills, Akaroa is a popular resort village and in summer the temporary population can reach 7,000 which places stress on the water supply, which is entirely dependent upon rainfall on the hills.
In 1838 Captain Jean Franšois L'Anglois bought a parcel of land in Akaroa. Although sailors from the hastily-dispatched HMS Britomart proclaimed British sovereignty over the South Island at Akaroa in 1840, the area was settled that same year by French settlers who had intended to establish a colony. The local museum has an array of information on the settlement of Akaroa, many of its which deals with the French settlement of the area. It is clear from this that even though the French and British both lived on the land it is the French who had the wider influence.
The Akaroa Museum gives great detail about the townĺs history, and also and importantly one of Akaroa's favored sons Peter Woolsey has a thought provoking exhibition on Shackltons exploration to the South Pole.