Akaroa: “There’s a flower and a spider in my cereal bowl”

April 9, 2013
Following a few failed attempts, we finally made it to Akaroa, a small village on the Banks Peninsula. Akaroa is best known for it’s French influences, after they settled there in 1838. There are only 500 residents in the small town; but it’s popularity with the tourists is evident in all of the shops and restaurants along the wharf.
Being only about an hour from Christchurch, Scott and I decided to head out for a lazy weekend holiday in Akaroa. We packed clothes for any kind of weather (thankfully!), our road bikes (mine’s new!), and Scott packed his appetite for French pastries.

I found the town charming, but I think we waited until a bit too late in the season. We had to layer up for our hike in the hills, and the wind whistling across the bay kept us disinterested in the dolphin tours. Actually, a dolphin tour is not really at the top of my list anyways, but I’ve been told the dolphins in Akaroa are not to be missed. And yet, we missed them.
Oh, and don’t get Scott started about the lack of boulangeries (your source for authentic French pastries). Promising the man a chocolate filled pastry and then delivering nothing of the sort will leave your sorry French imposter of a town at the bottom of his list. Thank goodness we at least found some fromage de chevre and some yummy wine.
Cute downtown colors
This B&B is for sale… am I old enough to be an inn keeper yet?

 

View from our chilly hilly hike, looking down on Akaroa

We stayed in an… interesting spot. I did very little Internet research before booking a place (so uncharacteristic of me!) and chose a spot solely because it was in a tree. A tree house. Many reviewers who stayed on this farm, in the tree house or one of the other huts, commented on how eclectic and eccentric the proprietor is. I sort of shrugged it off, thinking, I’m open and accepting. No big deal.

Wow. They were right. We were greeted with a scowl, which I later discerned was because she thought Scott’s car was too loud. He actually seemed to remain on her bad side right from the get-go, but never mind. We entered the main house to discover the most animal pelts in one place I have ever seen and meet a dove that appeared to be a resident of the kitchen cupboard. There were herbs strewn about the room, something was boiling on the stove, and a black cat slinked around in the next room. I felt I’d stepped into the dark side of a fairy tale.

Next, we were led to our outdoor bathtub… in the middle of a thicket. She told us that she would build a fire under the tub, and when night fell, we were to put our robes on and traipse out to the thicket and hop in the tub. Isn’t the water going to be… boiling? The answer to that was yes, but there was a cold water hose running into the tub, so with a bucket and the spicket, one is able to adjust the temperature of the water in the cauldron tub.

Lastly, we found our room. We weren’t shown our room, but rather sent off with vague instructions. Either way, we found it, being that we had reserved the one that is up in a tree (which I find fantastic). Unsurprisingly, it was as eccentric as our host. We entered to find a possum fur bedspread complete with multiple possum tails (like, 20!), candles of many shapes and colors, herbs and flowers strewn about, and a shiny red chandelier hanging over the bed. And lots of purple everything.

Flower thicket surrounding outdoor tub
Outdoor tub, pre-fire
View of our tree house
Tree house up close
Scott exploring…

So I have to admit, although I felt a little bit like we were Hansel and Gretel being led into the oven (or cauldron), the boiling nature bath was actually quite lovely. It did take us a good 10 minutes to regulate the temperature of the water, but we got there, and add a bottle of champagne, and a cool, clear night… it was fabulous. And the stars down here… no light pollution, or air pollution, or noise pollution… wow. Just you and that sky. I’m pretty sure the only other time I’ve seen so many stars was at Lake Tekapo.

The next morning was equally as entertaining as our arrival. First things first, Scott irritated our host again… although I’m not sure how. Once that was complete, we ambled down for breakfast. On one hand, it was delightful. We were handed a picnic basket with fresh roses and warm croissants. I asked for herbal tea, which turned out to be a mixture of hot berry juice and herbs. Like, stalks of herbs…. in my tea. Which is all good. We sat on animal pelts (of course), and were given some morning reading material. A book actually… about skulls. Animal skulls. Of course.

Scott had me cracking up when he said “there’s a flower and a spider in my cereal bowl”, and the proceeded to empty and flick the residents out as if it were expected and normal. By this point, I suppose it was.

Breakfast “Room”… just a little different than your average Hilton

Before departing (alive!!!!), we were actually encouraged to climb up the hill and pick apples in the orchard. I had images of Adam & Eve, Snow White, and other such stories of trickery swirling in my head as we trudged up the dewy hill. I tried really hard to remember if there were any apples in the Hansel and Gretel fairytale… and if Brother Grimm or whoever had been on vacay in New Zealand when he dreamt up that story.

Anyways, we had fun picking apples, climbing trees, and sampling all the different sorts we found. I also learned what a beech nut looks like when it grows on the tree, which I would have never guessed in a million years.

The friendly and attractive casing of a beech nut
Apple trees seemed taller when we were smaller

 

The (literal) fruits of our labor

I feel like I should put a disclaimer here because we truly enjoyed our stay in Akaroa. I’m not sure if I would return to the tree house because of the pricing, but I found the whole experience to be seriously entertaining. I love places that make you feel one with nature, which this spot surely did. And it’s way better to stay somewhere unique. Now I have a brain full of hilarious memories instead of one more motel to file away in a list of boring accommodations. If this place sounds like somewhere you would enjoy (ie: you would also name your cat “Slutty Pants”) then please message me- I’ll give you all the details!

We finished our lackadaisical weekend with a road ride in the mist and a quick stop for ice cream on the way home. What a wonderful weekend.

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