On Friday 3rd February we set off down south to Christchurch, to try our third attempt at getting airborne in a hot-air balloon on the Saturday morning. It was disappointing to find out at 4am that once again, weather conditions were unsuitable over the Canterbury Plains. However, we re-booked for the next day, and decided to go to Akaroa for the day instead. SJ and I had visited in 2005, when he was only 4 years old, but he couldn't remember it, and Wifie had never been at all. So we headed even further south for the 1.5 hour journey to Akaroa, on a rather grey and dreary day.
Akaroa itself was as beautiful and quirky as ever, despite the foreboding skies and occasional drizzle. The little town has a strong Frwnch influence, and many of the street names are in the Feench style: "Rue Jolie" etc.
We had a lovely few hours meandering around the streets, visiting the French cemetery for a geocache, and doing some bargain-hunting at the flea market and book sale. For lunch, we opted for an impromptu picnic overlooking the sea, feasting on fresh bread, olive oil, dukkah, Whitestone's brie, cherry tomatoes and fresh fruit. Yum! C'était délicieux!
As well as the bronze statue of a French painter, which is designed so that you can put yourself in the picture(!), my favourite find was the quirky cows and goats made of recycled metal, which were on display outside a local shop. Price tags over $500 and made by a company called "ee-i-ee-i-o." Some of these wondrous creatures had a lid on top, and you could open them up to fill with ice and use as a highly decorative and useful outdoor "chilly bin!" Very quirky, which is always a hit with me! So, next time I have a spare $500+ to spend on quirky and functional outdoor artwork, I know exactly where to go! Might take me a few years, but if money were no object I would have bought one on the spot!
Somehow, wandering the streets of Akaroa felt more like being transported to a picturesque French village than a small town just south of Christchurch! Akaroa, c'est très jolie!