Sailing into Akaroa this morning the volcanic origins of New Zealand couldn’t have been more obvious. A large central circular, water filled area with cliffs above on all sides except for the opening through which we sailed, into the caldera or cooking pot. Take your choice.
At one point (in spite of the lovely video at the historical museum) I suspect was a small but prosperous town. First the Maori (more than one tribe) then the European setters of English, French, German and other later persuasions came to this beautiful area.
It is hard for me to imagine the area in other than today’s stark beauty, but the reality is that it was heavily forested which explains the logging industry. The whales explain the arrival of the whalers.
The Brits explain (Colonialism and wanting to beat out the French) their eagerness to govern. The earthquake and the cruise ships explain the growth of the town today which can swell from the less than 1000 permanent residents to thousands thronging the streets with the arrival of the tenders. (Lyttleton Harbor where the ships used to dock 10 minutes from Christchurch is not not functional after the quake).
Two ships in town was just unmanageable. Given that most of the large tour buses were from Christchurch and proceeded to block streets, travel and loading it was more than a challenge. Now I could see this happening if the ships happened to belong to RCCL and HAL. They don’t talk to each other. But today it was the Solstice and the Radiance. (Hello? Home office?)
Anyway, I bailed off early and was met by Bev who drove over the mountain from Christchurch. I feel so lucky to have accumulated a circle friends around the world and hope that I can pay back at some point. We traded goodies (yarn went that way along with the last Heidelbear, and I have patterns, possum yarn and some lovely fleece from her personal alpaca).
We walked the town early, looking at the historical buildings,
climbed up to the French Cemetery
and poked in shops here and there. After a nice coffee stop, we saw the Lighthouse,
a local Maori location
and took a ride out to the peninsula that extends into the heart of the caldera.
And then we have stubborn. There is this spit of land that stretches well into the center of the bay. Before the earthquake it was all of a piece. Not so anymore and you can see where both a break occurred and the one portion has not quiet finished coming apart. As a result, the first small look out is posted as off limits. Not knowing all of that, I just decided to be a good kid and play by the “walkway closed, take the lower route at low tide.” Coming around the end…. I probably don’t weigh enough to help finish the job started by a twitchy mother earth, but it probably doesn’t pay to be too stupid.
Down, around and the most amazing rock formations. I kept going, up the next hill. And on, and on and on, along the path to the far promontory.