Akaroa and Banks Peninsula

After the Gondola and Lyttelton we drove on down the coast to the hilly Banks Peninsula. This old volcanic caldera is a big contrast to the city itself. With picture-perfect hills and countless secluded bays this area is a very popular holiday destination. On a sunny day like this the area also provides lots of great photo opportunities. The most spectacular views were down from the windy tourist road leading to Akaroa, the main settlement in the area. High up from the hills Akaroa Harbour is a magnificent sight.

Unlike most of the South Island Akaroa was originally settled by the French. While this makes very little practical difference these day this fact is milked to a great extent while marketing the town. All the streets have French names and many of the restaurants have a French theme too. As the only real town on the Peninsula the place can get awfully busy in the summer. But luckily in the winter it’s nice and quite, yet still beautiful. Sadly this also means that quite a few places close down for winter.

After a quick stroll through the town I got back to the harbour to get some sunset shots with the sun going down behind the big hills on the other side of the bay. Unfortunately the sunset itself was rather disappointing with very dull colors. But luckily the golden colors on the hills behind Akaroa were beautiful indeed. I also did some night photography in the harbour area with some decent results.

We had few hours of time to spare so on the way back we walked up the Onawa-Pa, an old hillside Maori fortification. There’s little left of the settlement itself but it’s easy to see why ancient Maori picked the spot. This steep hill within the Akaroa Harbour is only connected to the mainland by a narrow landbridge making the position extremely defensible. And the views are spectacular too! The walk up the hill is bit of a hike, but even Eija made it after some huffing and puffing.

After our walk it was time to head back to Christchurch to pick up Jacinta who was flying in few days after me and Eija. We picked her up from the aiport and then started driving inland and finally towards the mountains!

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