Well, I thought I had seen the Cote d’Azur of New Zealand on the North Island in Mount Maunganui but had I known what Akoroa is like, I would have saved the comparison for this place. Akoroa was the site of New Zealand’s first French settlement and is still very much like a French provincial village, down to the street names, houses and shops.
It is quite touristy here but as it is now so hot, I had lunch and rested at the campsite during the hottest part of the day and only wandered down into town towards the end of the afternoon, when the crowds had reduced a little due to the shops being closed. After a wonderful ice cream on the sea front, I ended up having a drink and dinner with a girl whom I had met in the hostel on Stewart Island and bumped into today at the i-site. We shared a delicious seafood platter and sat on the beach for a while afterwards, watching the sun set and children play in the water and on the beach
I still cannot believe how the weather has changed- just 2 days ago I was covered in layers and now I am hot and rejoicing over every cold shower I can get. It is definitely not typical-even the kiwis are commenting on the strange, extreme weather changes they have been experiencing during these past few weeks…I don’t think anyone here would deny that climate change is taking place.
Tomorrow is my last day in New Zealand and I have to admit I am feeling quite sad. I could easily have travelled on for another few weeks like this. It has been such a wonderful blessing to soak in all this beauty, to just “be” for a while. Part of me is a little frightened that I will fall into a bit of a hole when I get home…no job to go to, cold, miserable weather……it will be so easy for reality to kick in with a bang. But then again there is also a sense of deep trust that all will work out well–and there are so many special people and moments to look forward to back home and so I am also excited about returning.
In short, I will enjoy my last day here to the full. I plan to visit the museum in Akaroa tomorrow morning, perhaps take a peek at some of the quirky shops, before enjoying the drive back to Christchurch and the spectacular views over the sea (which looks more like a lake than the sea from above) from the hills surrounding the peninsula, which was formed by two gigantic volcanic eruptions about 8 million years ago. I will, of course, also explore Christchurch itself before finding the campsite I have booked for tomorrow, close to the Happy Campers office where I have to hand in my little van on Sunday morning. No doubt there will be a bit of a packing and cleaning frenzy in the van, as well as a session to clear out the fridge, in the evening, to ensure the camper is ready to be handed over to its next happy lucky temporary owner
It has now gone completely dark and the lights of Akoroa just below us down the hill are all on. It could be very peaceful but a Swiss couple has arrived late in a camper and is faffing around with parking up in unbelievable ways…apparently someone was on their slot but the man has a rather loud voice and so the whole campsite knows about the issue. 😀 This is the flipside to the nights I have to spend on bigger campsites to ensure the van is fully powered up…..but then again I have also met some lovely people on sites like this.
It is probably time for me to make my bed and tuck up for my penultimate night in my little camper…..were it not for the noisy Swiss couple, I would probably hear more of the wonderful birdsong which I can make out during the silences here.